Making Women the Smartest Coders in the Room

By: Fullstack Staff

You could say Katy Eng was always in the market to learn a new language—before attending our coding bootcamp at Grace Hopper, she taught Spanish and French in NYC and also speaks Japanese, reads Latin, and is well-versed in sign language. (Can we get a round of applause for this woman?!) So when a friend recommended she learn to code, she naturally welcomed the challenge of discovering this new and very different language. 

Two things Katy had always loved about her teaching job were collaborating with other inspiring teachers and developing curricula. When she decided to leave teaching, she knew she would have to find a career that would allow her to continue building things—just as she’d built curricula—and growing through collaborative work. Software engineering seemed like the perfect fit.

As she searched for a coding bootcamp that would enable her to transition to this new career, she learned about the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, an all-women’s programming school.

Coding Bootcamp through a Feminist Lens

Bootcamp was a practical option for Katy: It wouldn’t take as long as grad school, so she would be able to hit the ground running quickly after graduation. She wouldn’t have to spend as much money, either—-which is why Grace Hopper Program’s tuition-deferred model caught her eye. Graduates don’t have to pay full tuition until they get a job in software engineering, and Katy knew this opened up the program to a more diverse group of women who might not otherwise have been able to afford it. Diversity within her chosen program was important to her.

While time and money were both huge considerations for Katy, it was really the women-only environment that sold her. Knowing firsthand the challenges that women face in all industries, but especially in the tech world, the thought of going through this process with other women (and only other women!) was attractive. She liked the idea that they would support each other not only during the program, but after too—and that’s exactly what happened. Her cohort kept her going on the good days and the bad days, and they’ve stayed in touch since graduation.

A Life-Changing Experience at Grace Hopper

The diversity within the Grace Hopper classroom that Katy liked so much translated to stronger outcomes, both on group projects and for the students individually as they relied on support and input from their peers during bootcamp and beyond. Katy loved being a part of a group of strong, well-trained women coders who were taking on the industry together.

Shortly after graduation—in just under a month—Katy received two job offers and ended up accepting a position at BlackRock. She felt her success finding a job was largely thanks to her instructors—whether they were giving her feedback, doing mock interviews with her, or drilling her on REACTO problems, it all came together to make her feel prepared and ready for the job interview process.

Advice to Potential Bootcamp Students

Katy’s advice to students considering bootcamp is to choose a program that employs support staff who have actually been through the program. You’ll definitely need help from others who can understand what you’re going through, and we offer that in spades: Our fellows at Grace Hopper are recent graduates committed to providing the same level of support they received from their fellows. 

Grace Hopper fellows gave Katy advice on how to solve problems during bootcamp and how to look for job—-and most importantly, they made her laugh when she was super stressed out. Seeing her fellows tackle challenges while keeping their sense of humor and perspective gave her a model to use at BlackRock, where she now works hard to be the best she can be every day and lower the barriers for other women who want to enter the software engineering field. Her ideal world is one in which the smartest coder in the room is a woman, and by sharing her story with others, she’s doing her part to create that.

Interested in learning more about Grace Hopper? Come to an info session to learn more about our NYC and Chicago campuses.


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