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How This Former Nurse Recalibrated Her Skills to Pursue a Tech Career with Spectrum

Before starting her journey into the tech world, Grace’s career was on a very different path. For nearly two years, she worked in a pediatric emergency department, all while juggling the demands of nursing school, and then she spent another year and a half as a pediatric critical care nurse after graduation. Although she appreciated the hands-on experience and transferable skills she developed in healthcare, Grace began to long for a career that offered a better work-life balance and broader opportunities for advancement.

Her curiosity about technology was piqued when a friend who had recently graduated from LaunchCode, a nonprofit creating pathways into tech careers through free training and career connections, suggested that Grace look into coding. Despite initial hesitation due to her lack of tech experience, Grace signed up for a free JavaScript course and was hooked. From there, she enrolled in LaunchCode’s free web development course, setting her on a new career trajectory.

Now a software engineer at Spectrum, a leading provider of connectivity and entertainment services, Grace shares how she made a successful career change from healthcare to technology. She also details which skills she learned in healthcare help in her current role and why programs like LaunchCode are essential to building a more diverse, equitable tech workforce.

How did you discover the opportunity at Spectrum, and what made you feel that it was a good fit?

Soon after I graduated from LaunchCode’s Liftoff program, I was invited to a Spectrum hiring event hosted by LaunchCode where I had the opportunity to hear from employees about their career journeys with the company. I spoke with former LaunchCode students who joined Spectrum after completing the program, and interviewed with an employee who would later become my hiring manager. One week after the event, I received an apprenticeship offer.

As someone entering an entirely new industry, I knew I wanted my first software engineering position to be with a company that prioritized my professional development. The hiring event was a great opportunity to hear from others who made successful career pivots within the company, and it ultimately affirmed that Spectrum would be a supportive environment to begin my tech career.

What are your responsibilities as a software engineer, and how does the work excite you?

Some of my core responsibilities involve collaborating with developers to conceptualize new feature designs, translating designs into code, and addressing issues that might arise post-deployment by debugging and troubleshooting. I like that software engineering is like a giant puzzle where all the parts of a feature slowly come together until everything falls into place.

You worked in the ER as an emergency technician while attending nursing school. After you graduated and became a nurse, you worked in the pediatric ICU. How have the skills from your previous experiences benefited your work at Spectrum?

The dynamic nature of emergency healthcare provided a good foundation for my transition to Spectrum. As a nurse, you need to quickly absorb information and apply it on the job under unfamiliar circumstances. Through this experience, I realized the importance of empowering myself with knowledge and mastering self-directed learning.

As with any new job, when I started as a developer with Spectrum, I was faced with a challenge that felt similar, in a way: adapting to an entirely new industry, environment, and team. Drawing from my past experiences, I applied the same strategy and proactively started studying and learning as much as I could to bridge the gap.

How has Spectrum supported your professional development?

Spectrum provides a supportive environment that prioritizes learning and exposure to new topics, which allowed me to quickly acclimate to my role and explore new interests when I was ready.

When I first joined Spectrum, I was coding entirely on the front end with React but grew an interest to learn on the back end in Java. I shared this with my team lead who paired me with a more senior Java developer for support. From there, I began slowly taking on Java tickets and, with that mentor’s guidance as well as my team lead’s, I now work entirely as a back-end developer.

Tell us about your experience with LaunchCode, a nonprofit that offers free tech education and job placement opportunities to diversify the tech field.

From start to finish, I had a fantastic experience with LaunchCode. The course I completed involved six months of classroom learning followed by a three-month capstone group project. The curriculum was comprehensive, blending technical education with soft-skills learning through workshops, classroom-style sessions, and mock interviews.

My favorite part was collaborating with fellow students who all came from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of technical experience. Many of my classmates—myself included—worked full-time while completing the course, which was challenging. Together, we were all working to achieve this common goal of a major career change.

How do nonprofits like LaunchCode empower those from marginalized and underserved communities to pursue a career in tech?

The traditional four-year computer science degree can exclude and deter some candidates because of financial and time constraints. With the help of nonprofits like LaunchCode, it’s easier for those without a degree in computer science to start a tech career.

For me, LaunchCode was instrumental in getting into tech because going back to college after paying for my bachelor’s wasn’t an option. LaunchCode offers completely free tech education, as well as special assistance to participants without access to the technology they need to complete the program. By growing the representation of diverse candidates in tech, companies benefit from having a wider range of perspectives, ideas, and experiences.

How do you think Spectrum’s partnership with LaunchCode aligns with the company’s core values?

It’s great that a large company like Spectrum is aligned with an organization that does important work to make meaningful tech careers more accessible. The partnership complements the company’s larger mission of breaking down barriers and expanding access to reliable connectivity services in communities across the country.

What advice do you have for individuals, especially women, who are considering a career change?

When I was first considering the career change, I wasn’t sure if I could be successful outside of nursing or if I’d be capable of learning a technical skill like coding. I also felt intimated by the transition from a female-dominated field to a traditionally male-dominated one. In reality, these doubts were rooted in unfounded assumptions about my own abilities.

My biggest piece of advice for anyone considering a major career shift is to give it a shot and don’t look back. Starting anything new will inevitably come with uncertainty and self-doubt, but keep your end goal in mind and remind yourself of the reasons you decided to start in the first place.

Whether you are an experienced technology professional or new to the industry, Spectrum has careers that can push your skills further. Interested in joining our team? Apply today:

This is an article that was posted on The Muse. Read the original article here.

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