A unique feature of software development is that you get to see the results of your work immediately. This can provide a sense of immense self-fulfillment. Just ask Practicum grad Shraddha. Shraddha was studying computer science but yearned for a tech-related job that combined creativity, logic, and fruitful results. She never had the chance to explore her passion, until suddenly, she was given a window of opportunity. Here’s how Practicum helped her navigate the path to her dream career.
A window of opportunity
Shraddha’s passion for computer science began in her college days. Although she was unsure of which part of the field to study, she figured it was a good career option nonetheless. Acting upon her family’s advice, she received her bachelor's degree in computer applications. Next, she won a scholarship for a master’s in the same area, which involved an internship at a tech company. The internship did not allow her to choose a specific field of study, so she ended up working on a data warehouse project for a U.S. customer.
At some point, Shraddha realized that she was really interested in software engineering. She had studied the subject as part of her college curriculum, but never in depth. With software engineering, she liked that the results of her work were immediate. “Painting is my hobby, and I like that if you’re given something to develop, you can see the results [right away],” she explains. “You have a fair amount of areas where you can develop your creative side, but also you have this area where you can develop programming skills… That is what I wanted to do, rather than going into more scientific stuff.”
But given her intense studies and internship, Shraddha couldn’t find the time to fully dive in. “[My education] was really hectic and I never got the chance to invest into what I wanted to learn,” she recalls. However, things changed once she and her husband moved from India to the U.S. She wasn’t allowed to work on a spouse visa, so she finally had the time to explore software engineering.
Diving in deeper
“Initially I wanted to enroll in a college, but for an immigrant, there are just so many steps and bureaucracy to it,” she says. Instead, Shraddha turned to free online resources. But with such massive amounts of information available, learning became a struggle. “Yes, you can learn it, but then there are points on which it would be good to have guidance or a mentor.”
Looking for a systematic educational approach, she spotted an ad for the Practicum Software Engineering Bootcamp in Women Who Code’s resources. She enrolled with no expectations. “When I initially joined Practicum, I had never looked for any other bootcamps, so I had no idea how it was going to be. Thankfully, from the moment I joined, I was satisfied. They gave me very structured learning and a helpful community.”
Enjoying the challenge
At Practicum, all programs are divided into a number of two- to three-week-long sprints. Each sprint is focused on a certain topic, consisting of theory, coding practice, and project assignments. Shraddha could dig into theory and practice coding at her own pace, but had to complete the assignments by the deadlines in order to unlock the following sprints. She had already learned some of the concepts in college, so certain things were easier for her. “But even throughout the course, it was challenging enough for me. It definitely taught me so many things. Not just coding, but also different standards and how they have been used in the industry.”
On a spouse visa, Shraddha was allowed to study and volunteer, so she did have to juggle Practicum and some volunteer work. Finding a balance was not easy: she worked 3-4 hours in the evenings and spent 3-4 full days working on assignments before the deadlines. Still, she says, “There were days when I just couldn’t adjust my day to the Practicum schedule.” But she took the challenge in stride, admitting that, “had the course not been challenging, I wouldn’t [have been] interested.”
Shraddha’s assignments were checked by the program’s code reviewers, who verified that her code was working and made suggestions for improvement. “I have learned a lot through code reviews. I was so excited,” she recalls. “Now that I’ve graduated from Practicum and am trying to learn stuff by myself, sometimes I wish there was a code reviewer or someone to tell me what I’m doing,” she jokes.
The community was a huge help as well. “The entire setup of the community, where you see students coming from different walks of life, has actually inspired me. I see people who are in entirely different fields, in their personal life they have so much to deal with, and then they come to Practicum to change their careers. There were times when I felt like, ‘Will I be able to do it?’ and then I looked up to them and I was like, ‘No, there are people who have more on their plate and they are able to put in so much effort, so I can definitely try to do it.’ That’s what kept me going.”
Armed with a new skill set
Now, Shraddha is trying to navigate her way through the complicated U.S. immigration system and secure a work permit. If she succeeds, she aims to work at a company that will value her growth and development and invest in her skill set. “I would really prefer to work for startups because it’s not always about work for me, it’s about the kind of environment and people I get to work with… What matters to me a lot is that when I get to work, I should be in an environment where my company appreciates and invests in my growth.” Otherwise, Shraddha would enjoy working as a freelancer and being in charge of her own life. “I would enjoy an environment where I’m free and I’m owning the things I do, and freelancing has always interested me.”
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