June 11, 2018
Interview with Actualize Online Live graduate Jennifer Blom
Q: What made you decide to learn to code?
A: I had been working in customer support for most of my career, and one of the common patterns I had kept on encountering in my job was dealing with the errors that the customer would experience when using our software. Ultimately, I wanted to have a bigger impact than just helping the customers avoid these errors - I wanted to help fix the errors. And to do that, I’d have to become more technical and actually work on the software itself.
Q: How did you begin your coding journey?
A: I had expressed early on at my current company, Betterment, that I’d like to transition to their software development team, and they were very supportive. I approached one of the software engineers at Betterment to ask her how to start learning to code. She recommended that I begin with the Ruby programming language and I used various tutorials to begin building small projects.
Q: Why did you join Actualize?
A: Although I was making great progress with teaching myself to code, since I was going to become an actual software engineer at my company, I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have any gaps in my knowledge. I felt that attending a coding bootcamp would provide me with the skills I’d need to truly make the jump. I specifically chose Actualize because one of the other software developers at Betterment had taken it and recommended it.
Q: What is your current role now?
A: I am a Junior Software Engineer at Betterment.
Q: Can you tell us more about a project that you’ve built while at Actualize?
A: My personal Capstone project at Actualize is called Debterment. It’s a web application that helps individuals create plans to pay down their debt. The user enters their various debts and the application graphs out how long it would take to pay down the debt with minimum payments versus adding additional payments. By being able to visualize the immense effect that additional payments have on the debt, the user is encouraged to make those additional payments to tackle their debt faster.
Here’s a video of me presenting Debterment:
Q: What would you tell someone considering learning to code?
A: Learning to code definitely comes with a steep learning curve, but it’s something that anyone can do, no matter their background. However, you’ll need to truly be passionate about it, as there’s so much to learn, and you need to be internally motivated to succeed. Simply joining a course is not a replacement for internal motivation. But if you have that internal motivation, go for it!