Career Karma Alumni Spotlight: Jessie James

Jessie James | Web Development

Jessie James is a History major from the BYU with a life-long passion to end human trafficking. This has led her to conduct extensive research on what she can do to make a real difference and the answer was to gain all the necessary skills to do well-rounded anti-trafficking work.

“What I found was there is not a great tech presence in the anti-trafficking side of things. In order for me to make a real difference, I made a 5-10-15 year plan to upskill myself so I have all the puzzle pieces together.

“After school, I worked in the mental health field to understand the at-risk groups and once I felt like I had a good grasp on that, I wanted to go ‘understand’ tech so I chose to learn how to code,” she said, adding that her long-term plan includes getting an MBA.

Ms. James, who was enrolled from July to September last year, said she picked V School because it offered small, in-person classes that make for an ideal learning environment.

“The in-person environment was a huge selling point. Smaller class sizes mean there are designated people at every step of the process so I get to enjoy a great support system.

“I liked that there were two classes going on at the same time and cross-pollination is highly encouraged. I always went to the [UX/UI Design] class and talked to the students and gathered their input. It helped me gain a better understanding of the whole picture.”

After graduating from V School, she went on to serve as a teaching assistant for a couple of months before landing a role as a junior UI software engineer at SaltStack.

“As a fresh grad, there is a momentum that we need to sustain so this opportunity gave me just that. Now, I was teaching others to code. I had some students who were smarter than me so it became a two-way learning experience. I would also come back to school and perform mock interviews with the students based on the questions that I get from my own job interviews. It’s really cool. I enjoy the collaborative environment.”

Ms. James said there isn’t any reason why anyone who’s interested in tech shouldn’t dip their feet into coding, even if it means starting from scratch. The key to success, she added, is perseverance.

“It’s not about talent. It’s not easy but you have to be willing to put in the time and energy, actively seek the resources you need, and stick to the plan. Understand your personal learning style because the bootcamp you choose makes a huge difference. You have to dive headfirst and just go in. There’s no other way to learn an entirely new language and make it your career.”

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