Launcher Stories: Chelsea Smith
From event planning to tech support, Chelsea Smith worked in a wide range of roles before deciding to pursue an all-new career in software engineering.
After earning her college degree and serving for a year with AmeriCorps as a Boston high school mentor, Chelsea worked as a church administrator in Michigan before returning to Boston to contribute her administrative skills to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Working remotely throughout the pandemic in support of the organization’s annual convention, she found herself elbows-deep in IT tasks and CRM databases.
For the first time, Chelsea began considering a pathway to professional programming.
Chelsea’s Story: Forging a Fresh Path
“Initially, I considered going back to a traditional school,” explains Chelsea, “but my friends in software engineering suggested considering coding bootcamps.”
With encouragement from her peers already in the software development industry, Chelsea’s research surfaced Launch Academy as the top choice for a fast-tracked software engineering education. In the fall of 2022, she joined the coding bootcamp’s final cohort of the year.
Chelsea’s Launch Academy Experience
At first, Chelsea was intimidated by Launch Academy’s fast-paced environment. But as days turned into weeks, she found her footing, gaining the confidence to tackle new material and actively engage with her classmates. She explains, “Being in a collaborative, supportive environment with other students was very helpful!”
“Being in a collaborative, supportive environment with other students was very helpful!”
Challenges and solutions
Her most challenging hurdle was learning to read the documentation for new libraries, but Chelsea soon settled into trusting herself and her abilities.
Launch Academy’s emphasis on pair programming was particularly valuable as Chelsea acclimated to new skills and processes. “Pair programming involves two people working on the same code editor,” she explains. The “driver” edits the code, and the “navigator” contributes by analyzing the program’s logic. This collaborative coding method promotes learning and efficiency—and it was especially valuable when Chelsea’s cohort began their group projects, a staple of the Launch Academy experience.
“Our group project was a hilarious and fun experience!” Chelsea laughs. “We worked together as a team to face and resolve challenges. The pair programming aspect of the project was particularly helpful. I still use what I learned in my current job!”
Preparing for a new profession
Launch Academy does more than teach the latest programming languages; the Boston-area coding bootcamp empowers students to enter the workforce with their newfound skills.
“The mock interviews stood out to me,” Chelsea recalls. “I was nervous about job hunting, but the sense of responsibility the students all felt for each other was significant in helping us succeed.”
At Launch Academy’s Career Kickoff event, students met potential employers in a speed-dating-style experience designed to deliver high-quality, diverse exposure to industry opportunities. “We each had two minutes to introduce ourselves and showcase our final project,” Chelsea describes. “It was nerve-wracking, but I learned the importance of being engaged throughout the session.”
Chelsea’s Career in Coding
Chelsea was quickly rewarded with her cohort’s first job offer from Invite Education, a small SaaS company that builds college planning tools. Staffed almost entirely by Launch Academy alumni, Invite Education’s tech stack is nearly identical to the one used by Launch Academy, which helped Chelsea enjoy a seamless transition from school to work. “Within the first two to three weeks, I was already writing code that was being published!” she says excitedly.
“I feel like I have everything I want in a first job,” she continues. “Starting a new career has allowed me to transition from feeling burnt out to having a clear career path and doing engaging work that I love. My job has become the least stressful aspect of my life!”
“Starting a new career has allowed me to transition from feeling burnt out to having a clear career path and doing engaging work that I love. My job has become the least stressful aspect of my life!”
Chelsea’s tips for getting started
For anyone considering enrolling at Launch Academy, Chelsea suggests first giving coding a try with the internet’s many free resources and coding exercises. “Once you’re sure you like coding, Launch Academy is a great path,” she says. “The time and financial investment pay off quickly!”
Though a career change isn’t without its challenges, Chelsea wouldn’t do anything differently. “Launch Academy has completely changed my career path,” she shares. “It showed me that I can make big changes and succeed.”
Looking to succeed as a software engineer? Download our syllabus to learn more!