For years, Amanda Kiehm worked in project management and client solutions alongside software engineers who were developing products and solving complex technical problems. Over time, she became curious about exactly how they did their jobs, and precisely how software is built.
Below, read a Q&A with Amanda, who graduated from our Beginner Coding Bootcamp and now works as a Software Development Engineer I at Generac Grid Services in Colorado.
What drew you to software engineering?
I worked in the educational technology industry for a while as a project manager and found myself growing more curious over time about software development. Working alongside software engineers made me want to learn more about how exactly they built new product features and solved technical challenges.
What led you to enroll in the Beginner Coding Bootcamp? And how was your bootcamp experience?
A colleague of mine completed the intermediate program and had great things to say about her experience with Hack Reactor. When I enrolled, I was exploring coding on my own a little bit and really enjoyed learning about Python. The strong focus on Python in the beginner program was one of the determining factors for me. The program not only instilled a great foundation of coding basics, but also helped me feel more confident about my own ability to learn and grow as a software developer.
What kinds of things are you working on at Generac Grid Services?
As a Software Development Engineer I at Generac Grid Services, I have mainly been working on building new backend features for our distributed energy resource management system, Concerto.
What do you like about your role? What challenges have you faced so far?
I love that I’m working in the clean energy space, and I’m part of a company that is focused on solving complex problems for the future. I also really appreciate the strong culture of learning my team has fostered. Pairing with other developers often is encouraged and I’m lucky to have a fantastic mentor. For challenges, I’ve been learning functional programming with Elixir, which is much different from my background in object-oriented programming! This has been a fun and interesting challenge.
What’s your work environment like? Do you work on-site, remotely, etc.?
I’ve been both going into the office and working remotely some days. Going through the Hack Reactor program remotely helped me get more comfortable with working in that kind of setting. It is also nice to see colleagues in person, which is more of how I’m used to working in the past.
You’ve had some prior experience studying art history and working in project management, as you mentioned. Are there aspects of those fields that you’ve been able to carry over into your new career?
Definitely! With art history, my studies in that area helped me with researching and presenting on topics in front of an audience. Those skills have carried over in my professional career. My project management experience helped me better understand the software development life cycle at a high level, which has been helpful for getting up to speed in my role with regard to my team’s workflow.
How was the post-program job search process for you?
The post-program job search was difficult at times. Not hearing back from companies, or hearing back with rejections, can be defeating and make you sort of question if you’re good enough. But I appreciated having Briana from Career Services to check in with regularly. She helped me keep on track with my application goals and offered great guidance and support. To anyone feeling stuck in the process, I would say mix up your routine with different things like reading technical books/blogs, working on a new project or adding features to an existing one, and just keep sending out those applications!
Do you have any advice for incoming students who are about to start the first day of the beginner bootcamp?
To incoming bootcampers, first I would say congratulations to you on making the first step of this journey! A career change like this is not easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding if you put in the hard work and believe in yourself. To get the most out of your time in bootcamp, stay curious, be patient with yourself, recognize and celebrate your progress (however small it may seem), and ask lots and lots of questions.