Alumni Stories: A Veteran Becomes An Instructor

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Our Weekend Jumpstart program serves several functions. The first is that it gives our students a solid foundation, ensuring that everyone arrives at the full-time program with the same baseline of information to build upon. It then provides a window into the daily lives of our students. Jumpstart is a great opportunity to see what it’s like to learn and interact in a live remote classroom. Participants get to work with instructors, staff members, and current students as they get their hands dirty building a functional website. This allows them to confirm their interest in coding. Dedicating four months of your life to complete our full-time program is a big deal and we want our students to be confident and excited about their decision!

Nicole Mars Rivera was ready for her next big adventure and knew she had values ​​and priorities she wanted to keep in focus. After getting confirmation of this fit in conversations with various team members at LEARN, she went into our Jumpstart weekend program with clear expectations and left with a solid understanding of how teaching works and a fresh mindset, more than ready to tackle the mountain. of learning before her!

Tell us about you! What did you do before LEARN, and what was the catalyst that led you down this path?

Prior to LEARN Academy, I was an active duty member of the United States Navy. I honorably retired after seven long years of service and moved across the country to San Diego, California. I found LEARN Academy on the Veteran Affairs website, and after really connecting with LEARN’s core values ​​and beliefs, I quickly decided it was my best choice. This brave space was just what I needed. I was looking for a compassionate place to learn and grow, and that’s exactly what I found here at LEARN. Jumpstart was just the beginning of a whole new journey for me!

What did you expect coming to the weekend show, and what surprised you about the experience?

When I entered the Jumpstart weekend program, I expected to understand nothing from start to finish. I had very little understanding of the material I was trying to prepare myself for, and didn’t have much hope of putting it together until later in my own time. However, by the end of the weekend, I could understand the basic concepts and even create my own fun logic. The instructors and teaching assistants were patient and able to help answer all my questions. The weekend gave me the fire I needed to get into the headspace to start bootcamp full time!

What was your biggest – it could be specific to coding or more abstract!

My biggest takeaway from Jumpstart was my ability to be patient with myself while learning something new. As much as I love solving problems, I usually try to push new material into my brain as quickly as possible. It doesn’t give enough room for full understanding, and it’s only enough to ‘return’ information. This weekend helped me figure it out and kick a bad habit just in time before the group started. I also learned that relationship programming is a much more open conversation than I first thought. I expected to be paired with more knowledgeable developers, but they were also open to my ideas and creativity.

How has your journey been since Jumpstart?

Since Jumpstart, I’ve graduated boot camp full-time, completed two internships, and been hired as an Associate Instructor at the one and only LEARN Academy. Little did I know that Friday night on the first day of Jumpstart, what incredible growth opportunities would await me. This journey was amazing and life changing. Not only from a technical or professional point of view but also from an interpersonal point of view. I found a real passion in being a guide. It brings me so much joy to have the opportunity to be able to give back to the wonderful community that has nurtured so much of my growth.

Could you share with us more about your current role; How did you find it, how was the interview process and how do you enjoy it? How has LEARN been a resource for you in your job search?

My current role is as an Associate Instructor here at LEARN Academy. I found my current position here when I was still an intern and job hunting. However, my interview process was a little different. I used every piece of advice and tips I received during the professional development week, which I truly believe helped me land this role. This position is everything I was looking for when I left the army. I was looking for a safe and brave space to be me as well as a trusted professional. This is truly the best career I have ever had! The LEARN community has been the greatest resource in my job search.

How did LEARN stand out for you among all the programs available?

The importance of diversity in the tech community and the reinforcement of maintaining a brave space are the most significant factors that led me straight to LEARN and away from any other program I’ve seen. Things that helped verify that their mission statement was correct were each onboarding interview with the team; I asked one simple question, “In what ways does LEARN actively bring more diversity to the technical field?” And without hesitation, the answers seemed almost planned with each of their flares. It told me that every person I interviewed shared the same passion for their overall mission. The sheer size of this community speaks for itself.

Any advice for people considering taking the leap and taking the program?

Just allow yourself to explore other paths with the patience to learn something new.

Any advice for people who have signed up and are about to start the program?

For anyone taking their first brave steps, with the hope of many more to come, I would tell them to lean into the discomfort. Knowing that it will be difficult, but it is easier and more satisfying to make it to the other side. The material will seem lighter, but it is not. You are only getting better.

For Nicole, the Jumpstart weekend program was the perfect next step in her journey with LEARN Academy. This gave her the confidence and skills needed to take on the bootcamp full-time and pursue her dreams of a career in technology. Nicole’s story is a testament to the power of a supportive and inclusive learning environment and the importance of aligning one’s values ​​with one’s goals. Our weekend program is a great opportunity to test the waters and determine your next steps Sign up and find out for yourself!


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