Meet Chelsea: From Data Entry to Full-Stack

Chelsea Lura decided to level up in her career and become a Full-Stack JavaScript developer through Code Fellows. She shares what she’s getting to do now and some advice for fellow students.

Chelsea Lura
Image source: LinkedIn

What were you doing before enrolling at Code Fellows, and why did you decide to apply?

I had a data entry job at an insurance company. I was really concerned about changing careers; therefore, I felt really secure knowing that the job guarantee existed [at the time]. I also felt that Code Fellows would really be there to help me out with the job hunting process afterwards.

I chose JavaScript because it is used everywhere and it is incredibly popular. I also knew I was really interested in Node.

Tell us about your time in the course. What were the highs and lows?

The highs were definitely the time I spent pair programming with others, and our data structures and algorithms section. The biggest low was not completing our first project enough to get it working for our final presentation. We had all the parts working and tried to put them together at the last minute, unsuccessfully.

What was the hardest part for you?

The hardest part was likely twofold. Keeping up with the pace of the material and not allowing myself to get overwhelmed was quite difficult. I definitely suffer from some imposter syndrome as well; therefore, I was overly critical of my junior work and had difficulty gaining confidence in and from my code.

Were the courses what you expected?

The atmosphere was amazing! It felt like a safe place where everyone was learning from scratch together. It took a lot of the pressure off. I also enjoyed the focus on pair programming. The projects as well were amazing learning experiences. It was exactly what I needed to learn before I tried to get a job and work with other developers.

Overall, the curriculum for each course was pretty good. The courses definitely had their peaks and slumps. There wasn’t as much time dedicated to integrating technologies and systems as I expected. By the end of the class, our app resembled Frankenstein that lacked focus or cohesion because we kept adding more technologies to our example application. I would have liked even more focus on overall application architecture, which would have been incredibly beneficial during our project week.

In what ways did your background help you?

My background in Japanese and Linguistics definitely helped out, but not directly. A lot of programming is reading and parsing through code in order to extract its meaning. Translating Japanese text uses similar skills in parsing and processing the information.

What are some of the projects you created?

Well, I did the same first project everyone else did, which used the Google Maps API to give attractions along a given route. Our group didn’t finish, but had some cool working parts. The second project I did was a lifestyle tracker prototype, called “TrackYourself.” “TrackYourself” allowed users to input exercise, sleep, and water consumption data and get real-time graphs.

What are you up to now?

Currently I am an Engineer at DefenseStorm, a cybersecurity start-up. I absolutely love my job, and currently feel incredibly fulfilled with my work. I am not just writing JavaScript, but Java as well. In addition, I am now on-call, and have learned a ton about monitoring and DevOps. It is a continual learning process, which is ideal.

Any advice for future students?

My advice to future students would be:

  • Don’t let yourself fall behind on your reading and work.
  • Save every article to you are exposed to for later in Evernote, or something. You can build your own resource center very easily.
  • Take ownership of specific parts of the project. It can help immensely when job hunting afterwards, and is an amazing learning experience.
  • Be genuinely passionate and enthusiastic; it can open many doors.
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