Embracing a New Career: Helen Kim’s Decision to Leave the Healthcare Industry and Join Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp

healthcare

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health promotion, Helen Kim started her career in healthcare. Soon after, she furthered her study by completing an ophthalmic technician program. But after seeing her husband, a Java developer, work from home every day, she realized she wanted to do the same. Enticed to transition into the tech field, Helen began researching programs and came across Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp.

“I started immediately planning how to get through this program,” she said. “With support from my husband and family, I left my job and the healthcare industry completely, which was a big move — and scary.” 

Embracing a rigorous learning experience 

After joining the boot camp full-time, Helen had to quickly adjust to the rigorous schedule and course material. The full-time program condenses a wealth of coding content into just three months, which meant Helen had class every weekday — Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

“It was very fast-paced,” she said. “Basically you learn new things every week. You learn HTML one week, then CSS and JavaScript. After we learned these new skills, we would immediately start a group project using that skill set. Doing these projects, you learn as you go.”

Coding under pressure 

Outside of mandatory class hours, Helen’s TAs held optional review sessions in the mornings before class started and the afternoons after it ended. For the majority of the program, learners used this time to ask their instructors questions about their homework and brush up on skills they were learning in class. 

Toward the end of the semester, however, TAs dedicated these sessions to job interview preparation, specifically the coding exams that many big technology companies administer to applicants. During a process called whiteboarding, participants could practice solving complex algorithms under a time constraint. 

“You basically volunteer to go up to the whiteboard, and the instructor will give you a question,” said Helen. “Next, you think out loud, start solving your answer, and we all review it. With a lot more practice, you’ll become comfortable, knowledgeable, and prepared for the coding exam.” 

Although Helen didn’t personally volunteer to whiteboard, she still arrived early some days and reviewed the problems others were tackling. In hindsight, she wishes she had participated more — and recommends that future learners take advantage of the opportunity. 

“In a lot of the interviews that I did after graduating, I got nervous and felt pressured by time, and my mind would go blank,” said Helen. “But if I’d participated a lot, I would’ve been used to it, more knowledgeable, and done a lot better on coding exams. When I think back now, that could’ve been really helpful.” 

Branching out into the tech industry  

While still enrolled in the boot camp, Helen started working as a front end developer at a startup. She also reached out to her career advisor from the boot camp, whom she spoke with every few weeks. 

“My advisor was really supportive,” said Helen. “When I emailed her with any questions, she immediately replied and offered to help.” 

While still working for the startup, Helen landed a part-time position as a developer and designer in the retail industry. In this role, she had the chance to hone new skills, like Photoshop, WordPress, and eCommerce. After six months, she found a job at her alma mater, The University of Georgia, where she currently works as a web developer. 

“Typically, you would need some kind of education in the tech field to obtain a tech job,” said Helen. “A lot of big companies look for bachelor’s degrees in computer science, but if you have a certificate and the knowledge, you can pave your way there. Without the boot camp, I wouldn’t have even gotten my foot in the door.” 

Ready to open the door to a new career in tech? Learn more about the full-time or part-time boot camp experience by checking out Georgia Tech Boot Camps in coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, UX/UI, and digital marketing. 

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