How Scholarship Winner Natalie Miles landed a job at Credit Karma

72584_751438918288_206195_n Natalie Miles is a business analyst at Credit Karma who earned a full scholarship to the Hackbright Academy Part-Time class. Eager to help with tasks at her current role, her knowledge in programming is vital in the current work landscape, and as a woman, she knows the increasing need of females in tech. 

It was during a job transition when Natalie had the idea of getting into the data science field. 

Wanting to learn Python, Natalie, who had previously known about Hackbright, heard about the scholarship application through Hackbright from the Women Who Code newsletter. “I read it all the time and saw that there was a scholarship opportunity. I had been through boot camps and that had always been the first thing on my mind.” Natalie said she liked that it was all women.

“It’s a great way to learn a challenging subject, being with other like-minded people who are similar to you.”

After the application process, which Natalie found to be quite painless, she had heard within two days that she got the scholarship.

“I think for me I would have been reluctant to make that jump had I not received the scholarship. The program was something I wanted to do for awhile and I always pushed back because I knew it required a huge time and money commitment, so having that money commitment out of the picture and knowing it would just be a time commitment on my part made it a go ahead.”

Hackbright’s new Prep Course is twice a week during the evening, for eight weeks that covers the foundations of programming, which amongst the many topics, includes Python, GitHub, basic data structures and functionality. The prep course is perfect for those that want to get more into programming but still need some more experience before taking the Fellowship course.

As far as the program itself goes, Natalie made great friends in addition to a great education.

“It was a very encouraging and nurturing environment. I like the fact that there wasn’t weird competitiveness going on, and it really helped forge great relationships. The cohort I was with was great and I made some really great friends from this class. It’s hard to meet people outside of work so having an in-person class is a really rewarding experience.”

Projects That Carry into Work

As a business analyst at Credit Karma, and a former operations analyst at Lending Club, Natalie wanted to learn programming to help with mundane projects and tasks in her work.

“One of the most important things as far as getting into the data science field is that I have a basic understanding of Python, and [without this education], wouldn’t be able to do.

One of the cool projects I was able to do at Hackbright during class was using an API project to improve a work-related issue. I was able to make a tool to have a presence of Reddit.”

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Eventually, Natalie would like to get a master’s degree in data science or an MBA. “I feel like I’m at such a big advantage knowing how to program—it’s such a valuable skill set. There’s not a lot of representation of women in these roles, and I feel an obligation to help and not be left behind because technology is advancing.”

Natalie’s advice for people who might be interested in learning about the Hackbright program and getting into more technical roles: “If this is something you’re interested in, make sure you set yourself up for success. Don’t keep putting it off because of timing…there’s never going to be a perfect time. Do it now while you have the availability, because you want to be able to focus on this and give yourself a chance to succeed.”

EXCLUSIVE SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS FOR OUR JUNE COURSES:

  • Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners is offering $1,000 scholarships | Apply here!
  • In honor of International Women’s Month, every student will receive a $500 scholarship for our Part-Time June courses

Hackbright Academy is the engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women.

Happy International Women’s Day! 10 Inspiring Quotes from Women in Tech

In honor of #InternationalWomensDay, we put together some of our favorite quotes from some seriously talented and motivational women in tech. Take notes and get inspired!

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#1 –   Ginni Rometty, first female CEO at IBM

“People are their first word critic, and it stops them from getting another experience because I could be better, if I was just ready yet, if I had one more thing. And that’s not it…You always have to do something that puts you in a zone you don’t know. Someone once told me growth and comfort do not coexist. And I think it’s a  really good thing to remember.”

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#2 –   Rebecca Garcia, Technical Head of Product at Next Caller

“It’s so easy for us to get caught up in negative patterns, versus seeing what positive change you can make. Especially for women and minorities, we need to learn to see challenges as stepping-stones instead of hurdles. They really can bring you experience and closer to your goals.”

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# 3 –  Michelle Haupt, Operations Engineer at NASA 

“One thing I always tell young girls: Never let anybody tell you you can’t do it. Growing up, they’d look at me like, ‘Really?’ Even when I did my college visit, I had someone tell me most people change their minds after the first year. I never gave up. Even when I was having teachers tell me, ‘Just take a break from math, you can take this class next year,’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to take it now.’ I kept pushing for it.”

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#4 –   Jean Bartik, Programmer at ENIAC

“I was told I’d never make it to VP rank because I was too outspoken. Maybe so, but I think men will always find an excuse for keeping women in their ‘place’. So, let’s make that place the executive suite and start more of our own companies.”

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#5 –   Megan Smith, Former CTO of the United States of America 

“If you can find something you’re really passionate about, jump on that. If you’re passionate about (something) and you bring your talent, you’ll be unstoppable.”

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#6 –   Lauren Mosenthal, CTO at Glassbreakers 

“Life is a series of building, testing, changing and iterating.”

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#7 –   Carla Meninsky, engineer for Atari 

“I was a bit of an artist, and somewhere along the way had gotten the idea that computers could be used for animation and artists, because in-betweening was so tedious…Of course, everyone thought I was nuts.”

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#8 –   Radia Perlman, AKA “Mother of the Internet”, IEEE fellow, inventor of Spanning-Tree Protocol           

 “The world would be a better place if more engineers, like me, hated technology. The stuff I design, if I’m successful, nobody will ever notice. Things will just work, and will be self-managing.”

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# 9 –  Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo and former engineer at Google 

“People ask me all the time, ‘What is it like to be a woman at Google?’ I’m not a woman at Google, I’m a geek at Google. And being a geek is just great. I’m a geek, I like to code, I even like to use spreadsheets when I cook.”

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#10 –    Kimberly Bryant, Founder and CEO of Black Girls Who Code and electrical engineer 

“Being able to push against that paradigm and push girls to the forefront, particularly girls of color, is going to make a tremendous difference in the industry in the years to come.”

 

Are you ready to get started with your career in tech? In honor of International Women’s Day, Hackbright Academy is offering $1,500 tuition scholarships for the 12-week immersive program until March 15! Apply here

Hackbright Academy is an engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry.  

3 Ways To Design Your Career Change

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Krishelle Hardson-Hurley

Krishelle Hardson-Hurley is a site reliability engineer at Dropbox. After earning a Master of Education degree from the University San Diego, she spent six years as a high school Math and Spanish teacher before undertaking a search for a new career that brought her to Hackbright Academy.

Hers was no sudden switch — Krishelle spent two years looking for the right path for herself. She believes that planning, hard work, but most important thoughtful design can lead you to where you should be, too. When not at work, Krishelle is spending time with family, working out and going to Disneyland.


1. Design your path

I recently listened to a podcast episode that spoke about applying design thinking to improve your life, similar to how a designer might go about designing a product. Product designers develop prototypes, and although I did not know it at the time, this is exactly what I was doing with my life.

I had been teaching for six years when I started to feel it wasn’t what was best for me. I began to go through the design thinking process and tried to identify the key issues. I asked myself: Why wasn’t I happy? What was missing? What did I like about this job? What didn’t I like? I needed to fix the problem, just like a designer. Asking these questions help lead me to other possibilities, or prototypes, for my new career. I looked at returning to grad school to get a Ph.D, I thought about becoming a teacher coach, I considered becoming a school administrator, I was looking into curriculum positions at edtech companies, I even considered going into computer animation.

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 6.38.03 PMIn the episode, Stanford Professor David Evans explains that after your prototypes are created, the next step is to test them out. And that’s exactly what I did. I spent an entire summer learning and applying to various edtech companies. I arranged phone calls with anyone who would provide me better insight into their world. I wanted to make sure before I fully committed to a path, that I had enough information to ensure that I pursued a career that reflects who I am and allows me to be my best me. I spoke with two CEOs and an employee of various edtech companies, I had a call with a Professor at Stanford, I spoke with Ph.D students, employees at Pixar, Google and Dropbox, I even took an animation class. As one more possible path, I went to a Hackbright open house. That’s when it hit me. One of the speakers on a panel was a teacher, and she seemed to be speaking directly to me. That is when I knew that becoming a software engineer was the right path for me.

Take the time to design your path. Explore multiple paths and chose the one that reflects who you truly are, and allows you to be the best person you can be. Take the time to talk to people in fields that appeal to you before you commit. Take a class, go to events or listen to podcasts that allow you to hear other’s stories. Test enough prototypes and you too will have that moment when one of them just speaks to you. Finding the right path takes time, have patience. And before you dive in, make sure to reflect and measure whether that path will truly make you happy and reward you for being you.

2. Create frameworks

krishelleRecently I put together a blog post, 8 Tools for Organizing your Post-Bootcamp Job Search, in which I provide many examples of the frameworks I utilized to organize my job search. By creating frameworks, I mean create intentional structures that serve as a roadmap to the goals you are striving to achieve. As demonstrated in the post, I approach everything I do with a framework. This helps me to fully understand the why and the how when it comes to executing my designed path.

Once I decided to attend Hackbright, I sat down and created a framework around this goal. I asked myself: How will I pay for it? What preparation is needed? Which cohort is the best to allow for a smooth transition from my current job? How will I make my application stand out? Why do I want to become an engineer? Why Hackbright? These are all questions that I worked on for months to develop into a framework. At the time that I applied to Hackbright, the application involved an optional video submission. As part of my framework, I spent a lot of time planning out my Hackbright admissions video. I hired a professional videographer and worked to develop the message I wanted to convey. This process was critical to getting closer to understanding myself and designing my path. This is exactly what frameworks are for, learning more about yourself and tweaking things as you go.

KAt Hackbright, they encourage you to develop company and career profiles like those that I speak about in my blog post. As soon as I began the program, I sat down and asked myself: What kind of work do you want to do and what kind of problems do you want to solve? What kind of company do you want to work for? What company values or features are important to you? After doing this and reflecting upon the prototype testing that I had done before Hackbright, I noticed that my framework had evolved. Through all of the iterations of my path and frameworks, I had finally found that I would be most fulfilled by focusing on companies that want to improve productivity and education.

So what did I do? Add another step to my framework. I asked myself: What can I do to show that I belong at these companies? My answer: Make sure that my capstone project demonstrates this. So I created a project at Hackbright that mirrored my interests. I created a tool to help people learn a second language more efficiently. My tool allowed people to do inline translations of text they were reading. See? Education and Productivity.

Creating these plans and structures helped me to realize who I was, what I wanted, and how I was going to see my goals come to life. Your plans will change and evolve, and you can’t predict how anything will turn out. What matters is that constructing a concrete plan will expose where you haven’t thought things through and what you haven’t looked into. It will give you a mindset to live in as you pursue your plan, like having a map as you explore a new city. Make sure you know where you’re going, at least for now. Keep reflecting and be open to tweaking things along the way.

Frameworks allow for a deep dive into a path you design. Just like a designer continues to test a chosen prototype, you too must continue to test the path you have chosen. This process is about learning more about yourself, so do the work. And guess what, when it comes time to share your story, you’ll be able to talk about it fluently, because you’ve got that structure in your head.

3. Audaciously be the best YOU that you can be

Krishelle Hardson-HurleyWhen I was young, every morning before school my mom would say to me “Be the best Krishelle you can be.” I have carried this message with me to everything that I do. It wasn’t until I began the process of changing careers, that I realized the part of this message that I had been missing. In your career, you can do your very best work every single day, but if you aren’t setting audacious goals and putting yourself in the right place to achieve those goals, you may find yourself underwhelmed by your own accomplishments.

And this is exactly how I felt, underwhelmed. I realized that the goals I had set for myself in becoming a teacher, had led me to a place where I was struggling to make a difference beyond my classroom. I needed to be in a place that reflected my values and allowed me to fully be the best that I could be.

So after designing my path and creating my frameworks, I set my sights on a few companies focused on building productivity and education tools. At the top of my list, was Dropbox. I had spoken to several Dropboxers and knew that the company culture, mission and values aligned closely with my own.

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 6.50.53 PMSo what audacious thing did I do? I had this great conversation with a Dropbox engineering manager at an event that I attended in September of last year. I was so inspired by her, that I wrote her an email saying how determined I was to do whatever it would take to work with her. I told her that if ever there were an opportunity for a junior engineer on her team, I hoped to be considered. And guess what, she invited me to interview and I got the job.

Here’s the thing though. Getting this job had two important ingredients: I audaciously put myself out there for an opportunity, yes. But I truly believe that because I had done the work to design my path and frameworks, my story was clear when I got in front of the right person. I was the best Krishelle I could be, and she could see it.

So what is the lesson here? Along with designing your path and creating the accompanying frameworks, do as much as you can to put yourself in the right situation and in front of the right people. Social capital is far more important than you might think, so start investing.

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 6.55.33 PMEven if you’re unsure what direction you want to go, get out there and share your story. Go to events and reach out to people, and most importantly ask direct questions. Can you recommend any resources where I can learn more about that? What do you love most about your role? What is your experience with work life balance at x company? What is the most important thing you learned in your first role as an engineer? What advice do you have for beginning engineers? I’m really interested in x and y, can you recommend any companies or roles that I can look into? Demonstrate that you have a fire for learning, a growth mindset, and a drive to make an impact. I still strive to do this in my role at Dropbox.

Lastly, make sure the message you convey in person is consistent with your online narrative. Part of being the best you can be, is making sure you are at your best in all the places that people can see you. Allow the world to see who you are and what you care about. This is your design, remember? So share it, publicly. Maybe it’s by sharing articles and resources on Twitter or LinkedIn. Perhaps you might write blog posts about your learnings, create a video or podcast or put together a personal website. Whatever it is, make sure it shows your best YOU.

People respond to a genuine story, so don’t be afraid to share yours, audaciously. If you’ve taken the steps above, you’ll know who you really are, or at least be one step closer than you were. You’ll be that someone everyone wants to know. And when you’re in front of that important person, you are guaranteed to shine.

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Check out The Most Important Lesson My Sister Ever Taught Me by Huffington Post about Krishelle’s inspiring journey to becoming a software engineer and the Medium blog Graduating from Bootcamp and interested in becoming a Site Reliability Engineer? she co-authored where they provide a list of comprehensive resources for new bootcamp grads and those interested in a career as a site reliability engineer.