From Trust and Safety Specialist to Software Engineer

Hackbright graduate and software engineer at OneSignal, Mika Patterson, shares her journey from pre-med to trust and safety to tech.

What were you doing before Hackbright?

Throughout undergrad, I was pre-med and switched to being pre-dental after I graduated from UC Davis in 2018. I attended SF State’s postbacc program for a year to prepare for dental school applications and was shadowing at a local dental office before everything shut down due to Covid. Unfortunately, I had to stop shadowing, but thankfully around the same time, I took on a role as a Trust and Safety specialist at Instacart where I was first introduced to the tech space.

Why did you want to learn to code?

My coding journey started as a hobby during the pandemic. I took courses online and watched tons of YouTube videos and realized that I really enjoyed programming, especially the idea of building something from scratch. Programming allows me to use my creativity in a completely different way than what I was used to.

What made you choose Hackbright?

For a year, I attempted the self-taught route and realized how difficult it was not having a community to learn the concepts with as well as not having instructors/mentors who were accessible for me to approach with any questions I had along the way. I was also overwhelmed with all the resources online and craved a structured curriculum. I researched other options and attending a bootcamp made the most sense, but I was still hesitant due to the cost. One day while scrolling through LinkedIn, I saw a post from a Hackbright alum who had just accepted an offer for a software engineering role and this sparked me to do my own research on Hackbright. Their mission truly resonated with me and as a graduate of an all-girls high school, I knew firsthand the benefits of learning in an environment for women and gender-diverse people.

What was your experience like?

I was enrolled in the remote, full-time course and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my Hackbright experience! My instructors and cohort mates contributed to a very supportive community, which enhanced my learning and I never felt judged for what I didn’t know. Initially, I had some reservations about remote learning, but I was able to adapt after the first few days and didn’t feel that it hindered my learning in any way. The instructors and career staff were easily accessible and were awesome at addressing any questions or concerns that I had.

How’d you land your new role, how long did it take, and do you have any tips?

Hackbright had hosted an event with OneSignal and I saw a flyer for their software engineering apprenticeship program posted on one of our Discord channels. After graduation, I submitted my resume and met with a few members of the team throughout the next few weeks. I received and accepted an offer a little over a month after graduating from Hackbright. My tip would be to start applying early! At first, I was scared to apply because I felt like there was so much more I needed to learn, but it doesn’t hurt to start applying and gain experience with the whole process.

Do you have any advice for women and gender-diverse people looking to get into tech?

Don’t be afraid to network and ask questions!  If you’re still hesitant about making the career switch, seek out women and gender-diverse people who are currently in the field and ask as many questions as you deem necessary to make an informed decision.


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