Getting a full-time dev role straight out of Bootcamp

Natalie Davis, a recent Bootcamp graduate, shares how she managed to get hired right after graduating from a Bootcamp.

We also talk about:
  • her experience at a developer Bootcamp,
  • how she managed to quickly get hired after graduating,
  • how she keeps up with all the stuff she has to learn,
  • how she decides to adopt best practices,
  • and how to overcome rejections by staying positive and focusing on growth.
Picture of Natalie Davis
About Natalie Davis
Natalie Davis is a recent Bootcamp graduate, who managed to get a job right after finishing her Bootcamp. She is vividly sharing her knowledge on Twitter and started to make real waves in the dev community within just one and a half years in tech.
Today’s episode is sponsored by ConfigCat – your favorite feature flag management tool to release more frequently with less risks!

Read the whole episode "Getting a full-time dev role straight out of Bootcamp" (Transcript)

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Michaela: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Software Engineering Unlocked podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Michaela and today I have the pleasure to talk to Natalie Davis. Natalie just landed her first tech first job as a software developer after recently graduating from a bootcamp.

But before I start, I want to tell you more about ConfigCat, who is sponsoring today’s episode. ConfigCat is a feature flag management tool. And last week I integrated it with my code review analytics tool. Now, with the help of ConfigCat, I can seamlessly and effortlessly switch features on and off in my application. They provide an intuitive user interface that allows me to set rules that enable or disable the feature for example based on where the user is located, or other characteristics that I know about the user, like the company that they work for, or the date that they signed up. The promise of ConfigCat is that everyone independent of their tech skills is up and running within 10 minutes of training and that now everyone can tap into the sheer possibilities of powerful feature flag management and A and B testing. Their tool is also GDPR compliant and they offer a super-rich free plan. So, please check them out at That is configcat dot com.

But now, back to Natalie. Natalie is a recent bootcamp graduate that managed to get hired really quickly after her graduation. She's vividly sharing her knowledge on Twitter and started to make real waves in the dev community within just one and a half years in tech. I'm really excited to have her on the show and learn how she experienced being in tech, our community, and what she thinks about certain technologies, software engineering practices, and especially how she organizes herself to learn everything that she has to know to position herself as a developer in 2021. So Natalie, I'm really happy that you're here today. Welcome to my show.

Natalie: [00:01:51] Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Michaela: [00:01:54] Yeah. I'm really really excited. So actually, I saw you tweeting that, you know, I just got a job and you were really happy about it and everybody was congratulating you. And so I really wanted to know, like, how did you do it, you know? How was your job search and everything? And I know that you were a little bit hesitant to share it because you thought, well, it was so easy, right? Or so quickly. So quick going. And that it's maybe not typical. But over my experience, like talking with a lot of developers, there are not really typical job search. There are hard ones and long ones, and you know, some that are dragged for several months or even years. But there's not really a typical one. And so I think it's really interesting still to learn about, you know, how was that for you? And also from your whole journey within tech, because I looked at your GitHub in like 2019, the beginning, it was empty. And then suddenly I see like one green dot and then I see more green dots and now it's filled with green dots all over, right? So you're really really active, and yeah. And now you are one and a half months, right?

Natalie: [00:03:02] Yes, I am.

Michaela: [00:03:04] Yeah. Frontend developer, right? So you have your first real job. As a developer, you're coding for money (laugh). And so, yeah, I would really love to hear how you experienced that journey and yeah. What you learned along the way, and maybe also what you can share with others so that they can get their foot into the door.

Natalie: [00:03:22] Yeah, you're right. When you first reached out, I was hesitant. Because we have to be careful with what we put out there in the world and how that impacts others. And I didn't want anyone to see my journey and be like, oh wow, it is super easy. Let me walk away from everything I have in life without giving it further thought. But I really appreciate that you follow back up on that conversation that we had. And throughout some really good points and that there's still some value and sharing what helped make me felt successful. And I really have to, I know people are going to want some kind of like magical technical prep situation that I did, but I have to go back to my retail days and say that that's really what did it for me. The skills I learned about creating relationships and networking in a natural kind of organic way. So yes, my job search itself, like the period where I was actively sending out resumes, was a very short period. But when I think about it, it started with when I created this Twitter account that was focused on my tech journey. It started with the relationship I was building along the way. And in the very early days, I definitely wasn't trying to network for a job. I was just trying to share the fact that I was learning. And my thought process was if I can share with the world what I'm learning: A, someone else might learn from it, but B, I can make connections with people who can see the work that I'm putting in, during this time period, so that when I am ready to kind of put myself out there and try to get a job, the people within my community will feel competent in saying no, I've seen this woman working really hard. I know the things she's been doing. I'm willing to put myself out there and say give her a shot.

Michaela: [00:05:09] Yeah. And actually that's one of the success recipes that I hear over and over and over. I mean, if you go back and listen a little bit to the shows that I put out and I asked a lot of people, like, how did you get that job? How did you land that position, right? How did you get your foot into one of the FAANG companies, right? And what it comes down to is, well, I worked, you know, to build relationships. I worked to build trust that people know, you know, that person actually is doing great work, right? And so the question is what can I do to increase my chances also? And I think having a profile, right? Being reachable, being authentic, being, you know, like a public with who you are, what you know, I think that can really help a lot. And you put in the work, right? So you're there like one and a half years. And I see, I mean, your GitHub, and it's just one, it doesn't, I mean, GitHub commits doesn't really mean anything. But it means something. It means that, you know, you put in the work to get these green dots on one platform at least, right? And it mean that you have, like, I looked at it and it was like 100, over 100 followers, right? So people are connecting with you on that platform. On a real developer platform. And they're connecting with you on Twitter and you're sharing and you're in connection, right? And so I think this is really, yeah, really really valuable. And what I like on your Twitter as well is that you're sharing your journey, right? So you're sharing while I'm looking for job now, I found a job, I'm graduating now, but you also sharing some of the issues. For example, I recently saw that you were saying, well, I paid off my student loans, right? So you show people somehow also the way that you're going and the struggles that you have with that. Can you tell me a little bit about the student loans and where they're coming from, and why you are so happy to have them, you know, like gone now.

Natalie: [00:07:01] Sure. So about 20 years ago, I had zero interest in tech, but I was all about fashion. And I enrolled in a for-profit school to study fashion design. And unfortunately, a series of life events prevented me from completing that process. I was about maybe six months out from getting that degree when I had to kind of just leave everything in my life and move across the country. So preventing me from continuing that education. And honestly, over the years, I started to, I had my put in in retail. I moved up there, school wasn't really on my mind. Until I was no longer happy with that career path. And I decided to go back to school. So I actually, it was kind of a blessing in disguise because if this private student loan hadn't popped up, I would have been enrolled in a university to study public policy and would have had nothing to do with tech. But I found out about this private student loan. And then I wasn't even aware that had. It doesn't show up like a regular government backed student loan would. It was just floating out there in The Netherlands, and it actually prevented me from getting my transcripts from that for-profit school. They told me that they wouldn't release my transcripts unless I paid that $15,000 in full. And I definitely didn't have $15,000 in full to pay. So at that time, I just kind of put that aside and started looking for other options to do a career switch. And that's when I found out about bootcamps and things like that, and wound up on this path. So I'm grateful. But once I went ahead found my first job, I was thinking that perhaps education wasn't over for me, that maybe I'd like to learn a few more things. So I called up that particular private student loans which is in a collection agency. So I called them and asked them, would they be willing to settle? And they settled for about 90% of that student loan. So I was able to pay it off and now I can re-enroll in a traditional educational path.

Michaela: [00:09:13] Yeah, that's really really cool. So I'm really happy for you to, you know, I think this is something that you are having on the back of your mind as well, right? So it's like something that makes you happy and you cannot, you know, you cannot go about life freely or as lightly probably. And so I can imagine that this now really feels amazing. But how did you come from, you know, political studies, right? To the tech bootcamp. So how did that happen? How did that transition go? And you know, like, yeah. What made the switch that you said, well, I'm going to do that now. I'm a programmer. I'm a software engineer. A developer.

Natalie: [00:09:49] It started with something that I saw on Twitter. It was a few years ago and they were talking about baked-in bias within algorithm and how that was affecting the black community as well as other marginalized identities. And that for me, was a place where I can step in, I can be loud, I can shake table, I can kick down doors and make room for others while still doing work that I felt was challenging and could have an impact on the lives of others. So that's what really started me getting interested in tech and in general. And honestly, I intended to begin my career as a data scientist. But then I saw the pre-course work for data science, and I thought that maybe web development would be a better place for me to start. Not going to lie. I got a little intimidated by some of that coursework.

Michaela: [00:10:43] Yeah. Okay. I can see. And so how does that work for bootcamp now? And I think you attended Lambda School, right? So how does that work? How do you, like, do you have like to do a test that you can actually start that? Are you tested before? Or can anybody started? What's your commitment there? Like how long does it normally take? Is it always like fixed? I really don't know a lot about Lambda School obviously. I read a little bit about it, but I would like to, yeah, hear from you, your experience, how that was for you and yeah. What you, can you recommend it, would you do it again?

Natalie: [00:11:17] So for disclaimer, the process for entry to enter the Lambda School is different and I don't know exactly what it looks like now. But when I attended, there was some pre-course work that was free and available to the public. And it included things like JavaScript fundamental. So functions, and variables, those kinds of things that really like high level overview, just to see if you have the propensity for this. And then once you completed that self-paced pre-course work, you took a kind of a coding challenge to see if you could attend Lambda School, if you were able to pass the coding challenge and you were able to enroll into Lambda School. So that was my pathway in. It was challenging. Not going to lie. But I had bought a new computer. So because I bought that new computer, that was the pressure on me. Like, you can't give up, you can't have wasted this MacBook Pro money [unintelligible]. So that was my motivation to really keep going. And honestly, I just fell in love with what it meant to solve the challenge of going from, like, I don't know what any of this is to, well, I get it and I can do something with this. So that's what got me there. In terms of the experience of going through Lambda School, I had an absolutely wonderful experience. And I know that that's not a one-to-one mirror for everybody who's attended, even for everybody who attended, when I attended. When the program was structured in a way that everyone had a team lead. And I have to admit my team lead is what made my Lambda School experience particularly phenomenal. His name is CJ. He's on Twitter also. Find him and follow him. He was amazing. CJ was really, he put in the work. So he understood the assignments we were giving, the concepts that we were supposed to have, but he also cared about us as students. So there was never a time where I couldn't come to CJ and get help. And because he cared about people, he was also intuitive enough to know that often times, all I needed to hear was slow down. Your mind is moving quicker than you are, and that's your problem. So I'm particularly thankful to him.

Michaela: [00:13:31] Yeah. Yeah. I think even different companies, it's the people often that, you know, make or break your experience there, right? So you can be at a large corporation like Microsoft and you can have like a blessing and like a wonderful experience. And then you can have like a horrible experience if you're in another team, right? And I think this is true for most companies unfortunately, right? But it's always good to also have like people that really, you know, make your day, and make your year, and maybe help you, you know, progress in life. So I definitely going to link him in the show notes and then everybody can go and follow and also follow you of course. And yeah. So that's really good to hear. So how does that work? You have to know a little bit about programming before, it seems. Like to pass the test, the coding challenge, like, how much preparation do you need? Like, do you need a month to get, you know, to that point to be able to do such a coding challenge or do you need more, how tricky is that? And yeah.

Natalie: [00:14:29] Yeah. I think the kind of entry test that I took was, it took about a month, a month and a half to prepare for it. Now I don't believe, I could be wrong, I could be misspeaking. But I don't believe that they had that same entry test. I think what they've done is they've taken some of those basic concepts that were included in that pre-course work and then integrated it into the regular course work. But that being said, I would say anyone who is considering going to a bootcamp or studying anything anywhere to immediately, once they've decided that they're going to do it, start going to work. They do the FreeCodeCamp, grab
Udemy, start, I mean, what's the worst that's going to happen? You're going to be ahead of pace to where you need to be, I think that's good because it moves so quickly. So I went through the program as a student. But I also acted as a team lead and a section lead. So I went through the core curriculum about four times. I went through at once as a student, twice as a team lead and then once as a section lead. And so when I went through it as a student, everything was moving so quickly. And everything was brand new. So there were, I was just trying to keep my head above the water. I was just trying to keep swimming and get the next assignment done and study on my own when I could distrained (??) what I need to distrained (??). But when I went through as a team, because I had already gone through that, trying to keep my head above the water, I was able to catch so much nuance and the small thing that didn't seem like they mattered to me when I was going through as a student that I could absolutely see the value in as a team. Not to mention, I had 12 students who were turning to me to help them understand the concepts. Which means I had to explain them 12 different ways, often 12 different times until it clicked in their head. And I honestly think that that's what gave me the real foundation of what was able, what made me able to succeed.

Michaela: [00:16:24] Yeah, I can totally see that. And I think it's similar to what people say about blogging, right? Why it's so important and so great if you're blogging, because you have to explain the concepts that you think you know. Again, I didn't write them down or teaching somebody. Like, so, when I went through university, I also work very closely with one person. And so we had this arrangement that I was helping, you know, that person always prepare for the tasks. But he was really beneficial for me as well, because I had to explain very detailed and really understand, you know, what I was, when I was just reading all my life like, oh, I know it, but then I have to explain it, right? You're like, oh, maybe I didn't understand that particular thing here. Is that a normal way of doing those bootcamps? I can't imagine it's not, right? So only a small percentage of the students are actually working as team leads and helping others again? Do you say like, is it voluntarily, do you say, like, I want to do that and then you can become a team lead?

Natalie: [00:17:20] Well, at the time it was a paid position at Lambda. Now, unfortunately, they've done a way with TLs and I think they've done themselves a great disservice by removing that vital piece of the puzzle. But it was a paid position. It wasn't paying much. It was definitely, so again, I talked about how I bought the MacBook Pro, so now I have to. Well, I walked away from a retail job that was paying me $65,000 a year, which that's not rich money. But combined with my husband's income, we were comfortable. I walked away from that to take the $13 an hour teeny additional to make. I also had to really pour myself in it because now, I gave up my career for this, at this point. Like I have to make this work. So yeah. So yeah, unfortunately not around any longer though.

Michaela: [00:18:08] Okay. Yeah, that's true. I think that's really unfortunate. And I think it can help, as you said, right? It can help your students. They learn more and if they even paid, even if it's a little bit of money, right? So when I was in university, I was also like in the first year, I wasn't as, I wasn't fit enough to, you know, work in IT to be honest, right? So I did other stuff, like whatever I could do, right? But after a year, I really transitioned from what I have been doing outside to do what I'm also learning at school, because that really helped me get a better foundation and really advanced my skills, right? So when you're still working, you know, like I came from an art school and if you're still working in the art section, which is interesting, but it didn't really help, you know? I felt like every hour that I'm spending, I'm really spending just for the money because I'm interested in something else, right? And so, allowing students to actually do something that helps them not only gain a little bit of money, but also, you know, strengthen their skills and give them some experience I think, that's really really powerful. Yeah.

Natalie: [00:19:11] Yeah. So obviously my team lead had a huge impact on me. And then some of the students who I TL for had told me that, and like, you hate because no one likes to toot their own horn. And like, I think. Anyway, they tell me that at least a few of them have told me that they would have left Lambda long ago if I hadn't been their TL. And the students who I did TL for, particularly when I was still in school, like I was often acting as their TL, especially when they lost their TL because they needed someone to turn to. Someone to help them to understand. And I really enjoyed that role. It was something that I would probably volunteer time to do, even now.

Michaela: [00:19:55] Yeah, I can imagine. So now you are graduating Lambda School. How do you start your job search, right? What kind of roles do you feel like prepared for? Do you feel like prepared for a normal developer role? Or do you go like for juniors? Do you want to do an internship? What was your way of thinking at that point? And yeah. How did you go about that?

Natalie: [00:20:19] It's challenging, right? Because in this industry, there's always a bit of imposter syndrome. So it's challenging to put you out, put yourself out there and say, hey, I can do these things. Now I felt definitely prepared for a frontend role. Any junior role I felt I could honestly compete with. There was some back and forth with myself with, are you really just a junior? You've put in a lot of work, perhaps you shouldn't be limiting yourself to such junior roles. And I did have conversations with a couple of companies that the role wasn't necessarily a junior role. And I really appreciate that those companies were completely willing to invest in me. They were using tech stacks that I had never touched, but they could see something in me that assured them that I would be able to jump in and kind of get my hands dirty and do what was necessary in order to take those roles. Now I did ultimately decide on a junior role, I think that it was a good decision as much as I may conceptually or theoretically understand certain things, doing them in practice is not the same thing. So I'm glad that I didn't put myself in a position as to where, like there would be a bunch of unnecessary and undue pressure to perform at a level when this is my first tech job. I did consider apprenticeships. I was really interested in the Twitter apprenticeship. And I thought that I had a really good chance. I had a recommendation from a former Twitter apprentice who was now a software engineer there. I scored perfectly on the coding assessment. I couldn't find out that there were hundreds of people who scored perfectly on the coding assessment. And unfortunately, Twitter just didn't see it for me. And that's fine. Because ultimately what that meant is I just shouldn't have been going after apprenticeships. I should be going after my first role, which is the way I took it. It hurt a little bit, feeling a little hurt because that was the dream role for me, right? I mean, Twitter brought me, Twitter community, tech community has carried me through this journey when I lost my team leads,I plucked team leads from Twitter. Mark has been, I'm going to have to find his, I can't remember his last name right now (laugh), which is horrible, but I will find it and make sure you have it. Because that man extended himself, jumped on video calls when I was going through computer science and trying to figure out what a binary search tree was, and all of these things that I had never understand, he really carried me through that program, as well as just the general Twitter timeline. So with all those things combined, that just meant Twitter for me was the dream job. But I don't believe in like staying rooted in disappointment. I don't believe that one no means anything in the grand scale of life. I think that a really, like, kind of a benefit of coming to tech as a second career a little bit later in life, like I've had enough life experience that one, no, especially from Twitter. Cause like who starts their career at a place like Twitter? That's not reasonable to have that expectation. And it was truly amazing. So I got that news that I didn't get the Twitter apprenticeship on a Friday. On Sunday I put a tweet out that, you know, it wasn't even a help me find a job tweet, it was I just updated my GitHub README about to really launch this job search kind of tweet. And shoutout to the Twitter community. It got re-shared so much before I knew it by Monday I think, I had three interviews set up for that week. Three really strong possibilities. And I finally wound up getting the offer from Foxtrot, company where I'm at now, maybe a week and a half later.

Michaela: [00:24:12] Wow. Yeah. That's really cool. And so, what is expected? Like, what did the companies ask you to do? How many hoops did you have to jump through? Was that something like very often you hear those really horrible stories? And honestly, I experienced those over and over again. Like, it doesn't matter how long you are in the industry they are still like, oh, can you do this and that? And can you prove that? And, you know, over here? And how was that for you? Was that actually the same? Did you feel like it's really like you're tested?

Natalie: [00:24:44] [unintelligible]. So of the three roles that I feel like were really strong possibilities. One, was you just had to build something using Flutter and include a test. The second was a take-home test. And in fact, that take-home test, because I was doing like three at the same time, I wound up emailing them because they were using like .NET, and C, and some other things that I had no idea about. So I emailed them like, hey, just so you know, this is where I'm at. I'm probably gonna need a little more time considering I have to dig into these languages and find out what's going on. They immediately responded to me. Hey, we just want to give you a chance to shine. You go ahead and use whatever language or framework you're comfortable with to complete it. So that was wonderful. And then the place where I wound up accepting was just, here's a Figma file. Make it happen. Like I was fully expecting to be white boarding. I had done months of preparing for it. My poor husband, I had him here at my whiteboard, like explaining to him algorithm, shout out to that man cause he sat there and really pretended to be interested in the thing that I was talking (laugh). So yeah. Again, another aspect of my particular journey that I feel is atypical, but I'm really thankful to have no one set me through anything ridiculous at all.

Michaela: [00:26:13] And I think really it's important to share that. I think it's so important to share this good stories, right? To also show that there are companies out there where you don't have to jump through hundreds of hoops, right? And prove yourself. I mean, I totally understand that, you know, people want to know what your abilities are because it's a big investment for them. And especially if the company is smaller, right? The bigger the investment is. But I sometimes feel like this human aspect is really forgotten. Like, that we are all humans and that nobody wants to be like tested and dissected and what not, right? So, and I like that as well, as you said, well, we want you to shine. So I was interviewing quite a few people recently in the last two month for positions at the startup that I'm currently consulting with. And so I tried to help them, you know, get their first engineers and their engineering team settled. And this is really what I wanted to do as well. I wanted to put people in the position that they can shine. So I'm not interested in what you don't know or find out if, you know, like from these 20 questions that I have, how many can I score and you don't know, right? This is exactly the opposite what I want to do. I want to have, give people the possibility to shine with their personality, but also with their skill set and with their passion and what they're interested in, right? And so, when I designed the questions and the whole interview process, I was always thinking on how can I make it less gatekeeping? And so I think it's really important that people also share their really good experiences. And maybe that also encouraged us to people that are in a privileged position to walk away, right? Not everybody can do that, but sometimes you can just [unintelligible] and say, no, not with me, not today, you know? Not you (laugh) and tried somewhere else, right? Not everybody can do it. I totally understand. But if you can, and if we know, and we hear the stories, you know, of good experiences, I think this is a very powerful, very strong message as well. There are others out there, you know, that value you and your experience and your time and your skill set, right? So, yeah. So I think it's really good that this is how it worked for you.

Natalie: [00:28:28] Yeah. Yeah. I was certainly relieved. And I think you're right. I think that there are a lot of people out there who understand that the interview process is kind of broken and are really working hard to make sure that no one has to prove themselves by doing things that they will likely never do in their day-to-day role, on a whiteboard, in front of a panel of people judging them.

Michaela: [00:28:51] Yeah. But I also think that it has to do a little bit, like with this, like this victim cycle, like you went through a such a hard process and had to prove yourself. And now you feel like you're superior because you know, you manage to get through it and so now you want to expose the other people to the same scrutiny, like (laugh). And,

Natalie: [00:29:12] Yeah. Mapping play out a lot in society. I mean the whole canceling student loan debt, all kind of things. And yeah, don't be that person. And if you've gone through something horrible, you should never want anyone else to unnecessarily experience that.

Michaela: [00:29:27] Exactly. Yeah. That's exactly. And these are like the two mindset. And I sometimes believe people don't even know that there's the other possibility that you could just, you know, try to prevent people to go through the same pain that you had, right? And you could learn from it, and this could actually be really your superpower. You went through this shitty whatever, right? And now you help people not to experience that. I think that would be really a cool thing. And yeah, you're right. With the student loan, it's the same, right? And sometimes for me, it's really mind blowing. How can you wish for others that they will pay forever, right? Only because you paid forever and like, well, you should actually know that it's not good (laugh).

Natalie: [00:30:07] Absolutely. The thing to put in there in terms of, if you're hiring for a frontend engineer, and you're giving them like graph problems to solve on a whiteboard, are you really filtering for the best candidate to do the work that needs to be done? You're not. So, you've now made this frontend engineer spent all of these months prepping for these kind of algorithm questions, which means they're probably not touching the frontend things that they do nearly as much. So you're just putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Michaela: [00:30:42] Yes. True. Totally agree. So, one of the things that's really interesting to me and I asked quite a few of my guests are engineering practices. So, testing, code reviews, how you write code, maybe some agile methodologies, do you do stand ups? And especially seasoned engineers like that have been in industry for a long time or have seen different places and work at different places, I asked them what they think about best practices, but I am super curious about, you know, how do you see that? Like, how do you decide something is a best practice? Do you read it on FreeCodeCamp that people say this is a best practice? And then you think it is a best practice? Or, I mean, I imagine that if you're studying a company, that everything seems like a best practice. Everything that everybody is doing is like, oh, this is how things are supposed to be done. And so, yeah, I really would love to hear your thoughts on that. And how do you, you know, get these nuances of, you know, what's the right way for you to do it? For a team to do it? And how do you prepare yourself to also be knowledgeable in that area?

Natalie: [00:31:53] That's really challenging, especially when you're just entering it because you made a good point. Like, I don't have any basis of comparison for anything that's being done at my particular job. But I will say, one of the instructors at Lambda School, he's not with them any longer, but his name was Louis Hernandez. I never had him as my instructor, but as a team lead, I worked with him. And so he would do these development hours for the team leads and kind of give us just some tips and best practices. And one of the things that he taught me, that really struck with me, is a best practice is just someone's opinion. And that doesn't mean that you discount it. It doesn't mean that there isn't some validity to it, but it is at the end of the day, an opinion. And understanding that made it a little bit easier to kind of assess through, is this really a best practice? But again, I will ask Twitter like, hey, I saw this thing done. Didn't feel right to me. What do you guys think? Like, ask other people. Talk to other people who had been working in the industry longer than you. You're going to get a variety of responses and most of them won't line up one to one. But you should be able to get a picture almost and then diagram, I'm like, where are they all on the same page yet. And that's kind of where you're at. Now in terms of, at my job, how do I determine the best practice? I asked my senior engineer. If he says to do it that way, and, I don't want to say just if he says to do it that way, then that's how it's done. Because there was an instance where we were doing something a way. I presented a solution that was completely different than what we were doing, but it made our experience easier. It got us to what we were actually trying to achieve, and he was open to that. So if something's obviously has room for improvement, then sure, bring that up. But if it's about a file structure or something like that, and he says, that's how it's done, then that's the best practice. Because at the end of the day, you got to satisfy your boss, right?

Michaela: [00:33:56] Yeah. And I think it also has merit to learn from others. They have been maybe longer than you in this industry, have seen maybe something else. So I think we should always be open to learn from each other, right? So even as a senior or a very very senior person, you can learn from somebody that just starting in tech because they might have seen something else. Or even, you know, the experience that you made in retail. They could shape your understanding and maybe something wonderful comes out of it, right? Then so, maybe you are coming up with a new design patterns. There haven't been like many introduced lately, right? So I think it's really important to be really open and learn from each other. But also, as you said, be critical and reflective of this is actually work for me. And there are definitely best practices that are not working for everybody. And I think one of the things that I hear very often, and I'm just thinking, well, this wouldn't be working for me on a day-to-day basis as for example, mob programming, or assembled programming. Like we're, there's a whole team of people working at the same time and I'm like, this wouldn't for my personality. I would just be totally overwhelmed with all these people around all the time. I'm not saying it's not, it's probably good, right, to do it? And for the code and for the quality and for team work. Perfect. But for me personally, I would be burned like after a week. I'm like, I have to quit. I can't do that anymore, right? Are you really like, if I'm, if I have my quiet time and I can think about, and it's just like, it charges my batteries again. And so I think this is some of those practices that we hear and people read it off and some people really love them. And then I think some others, like me included, I cannot envision to do that. Like, I can do it like once a week, right? No problems. But I have to prepare myself like this is not a time that my energy goes not only to the programming and thinking about the productivity thing, but really to just be surrounded by people (laugh) all the time, right? So, yeah.

Natalie: [00:35:59] Because I thought about it. And I'm thinking about like, how it may sound when I say I just listened to my senior dev, I want to point out that I also ask why. And it's not a petulance kind of like, well, why are you doing it like that? Or me waiting to prove that that's wrong. But it's to understand. Because you made a really good point. Especially when someone's been doing this longer, they run into things that you have been seen on your five component app that you've been building. So make sure to understand the why and not just blindly accept that the best practices are A, B and C.

Michaela: [00:36:36] Yeah, exactly. I mean, understanding the reasons I think is so important because otherwise you're also, best practices are very often extremely interwind with the environment, you know, what kind of software are you building? Under which circumstances are you building them? What business goals do you have, right? All of that actually influences the practices that you should place into your development process, right? And how you should structure that thing. And if you don't understand the why, you will just take it like a black box and apply it to every situation, you know? And in many situation, it will be the wrong choice to do it, right? It doesn't matter if it's test driven development or code reviews. There are a lot of nuances how to do them and there is also the right and the wrong time to do them in a certain type. And it has, you know, it's really, it's interconnected with the development team, all already constraints that you have at your company and everything, right? So the why is super important as you say. So there are two questions that I really want to ask you. One is about the tech stack. So how did you choose it? I imagine that maybe it has to do with Lambda School? And because they are teaching that this is how you ended up having that tech stack, you know, it's JavaScript, Node, React, and so on. But did you choose the Lambda School because it had the right tech stack or was it really you choose Lambda School because you felt like this is the right school for you and they had the tech stack? So, which way did it go?

Natalie: [00:38:06] So I chose Lambda school because it came well recommended to me from a mentor I had made contact with through Twitter. And she was hearing that Lambda was putting out kind of the best bootcamp graduates. So it was definitely my tech stack came because I chose Lambda. I do think that there's going to be value in learning other tech stacks, but I wanna make sure that I have a deep enough understanding of JavaScript, which is the entire basis of everything that I do before I start. Like, I'd rather have really deep knowledge there than broad knowledge everywhere and not know anything really well. So I absolutely intend to kind of reach out and explore other things. But right now, my priority is just getting really good at what I already know.

Michaela: [00:38:54] Yeah, I think that's a good strategy. I think it's the same good strategy as starting with a junior position because you can advance really quickly. So if you're in that junior position and you learn and you grow, then you can quickly go from junior to not a junior position anymore and further, right? But if you skip one step, and then you're struggling, and then you have to put fires out here and there all the time because you just have to make sure that you're up to date with what you have to do, I think then you cannot strive that much, right? So I think even that could be as slower, stuck progression, but it also depends on your team and obviously the company and everything, right? So this is not universally true, but I think in many cases it's a good stuff, especially if you are really new to the industry, right? I'm definitely not the person that says don't shoot, you know, a little bit higher and try, because especially later on, people sometimes, especially women, don't dare, right? To shoot one higher? Which I also think at that point, you should do it like, go for the next role (laugh) I think, skip one and then just try it out. But I think, especially at the beginning to get this foundation, I think it's a good step to, you know, get it ready and then grow quickly. Yeah.

Natalie: [00:40:07] I think you bring up a really good point. And that's why I was initially considering an apprenticeship in the first place. Because I thought an apprenticeship would be perfect in that, I would feel more comfortable making mistakes. Which might allow me to be a little bit more bold than I would as a junior. Now it didn't work out that way and I'm glad about it. And I'm glad that I've landed in a place where I feel comfortable that I can make a mistake and it's not going to be held against me. But I think you make a really good point. It can be very tempting to, especially in the beginning, go as super as high as you can. But I think, and this is something that I've learned, not just in tech, but in life in general. For some of us, I'm one of those people, there's a tendency to excel and get the next promotion really quickly. And that's what happened to me in retail. About every six months I got a promotion. And I worked through it and it was fine. But I can tell you, as a store manager who had only been in retail a couple of years, there were definitely times where I had to really rely on the people working under me, who had been in retail for 10 or 15 years and had seen these things that I'd never seen before. So I'm also, I'm trying to be ambitious without being too ambitious. I don't want to move too quickly. So, yeah, I think you made a really good point about that.

Michaela: [00:41:27] So, maybe to also wrap our interview up, what would you say, especially for people that are noticed one to goal, or get into tech, or get their first job, or making these decisions, right? Very early on, like, what technology stack, what school, you know, what, where should I apply? What was your, you know, and you said it a little bit Twitter, right? Like building those relationships was really important. Is there something else that you think people should do that sets them up for success?

Natalie: [00:41:58] You're going to have to study hard. You're going to have to be willing to be knocked completely on your back, in tears, in a puddle on the floor, because you don't understand anything. You're going to have to be able to get up from that, understand that that's normal, and keep going. In terms of which school, which bootcamp, which stacks that, I have no opinions on that because it's going to look different for each person. You have to make the decisions that are right for you. But no matter where you choose to go, you are going to have to put in more than you expect to put in. You won't be able to just show up during your scheduled class time and then move on with your day and think that you have done enough in order to be successful. But you also have to find balance. Because many of us, myself included, went through periods where we completely lost ourselves in the studying and the attempting to reach the next milestone. You don't want to find yourself in burnout and that's where you will lay in there. So you're going to have to work hard, but you're going to have to know when to listen to your body and your mind when it's telling you it needs a break. And that will often be the thing that gets you past the block or so, take break but study hard.

Michaela: [00:43:19] Yeah, I think that's absolute fantastic advice. And do you know, what was really interesting for me during my studies? I'm also a person that, you know, if I, first of all, I love studying (laugh). Like, I really love learning. I love like, I'm a little bit addicted to it. Like it's (laugh)

Natalie: [00:43:34] That's why I'm trying to enroll in college again.

Michaela: [00:43:38] Yeah, exactly, right? Yeah. And that's why I have been at school so long, but (laugh). What I also saw is that I performed the best, really the best grades and, you know, the best adhere creativity flew when I was studying a little bit less and having more fun, you know? I mean, I was never like the over party person, like (laugh) never studying and always partying. I was more the other person, right? But it was studying all the time and they were partying. But I added like a little bit partying to the mix, like meeting other people, socializing and maybe not doing, you know, some of the homeworks and not studying or not, or night or something. I actually performed better at my tests, which I found pretty interesting. And there was like, no good explanation at that time. But obviously it has to do that. You're rested, that you're balanced, right? That you're getting other input, that your mental models and your perception and your perspective are enhanced. And you're not just like this, you know, book smart person. And so, yeah, I think you're totally right. Work and study part, but also don't forget like everything around, which is really valuable. Like your relationships, your family, your friends, you should really cherish them and make sure we spend enough time with them.

Natalie: [00:44:52] Yeah. Yeah.

Michaela: [00:44:55] Yeah. Okay. So Natalie, thank you so much for being on my show. It was really a pleasure to talk to you today. I learned a lot. It was really nice and thank you so much.

Natalie: [00:45:03] Well, thank you for having me. I really appreciate being invited onto the podcast.

Michaela: [00:45:09] Yeah. Thank you so much. Okay, bye bye. Bye.

Natalie: [00:45:14] (laugh) I'm a waver.

Michaela: [00:45:17] (laugh) Me too. I bet you've actually, I think every episode.

Well, before you go, let me tell you that my code review workshops are starting again. So if you want to transform your code review practices from bottleneck to superpower, checkout my training at So thank you for listening to another episode of the Soft Engineering Unlocked podcast. Don't forget to subscribe and I talk to you again in two weeks. Bye.

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