Switchup Sits Down with Madyson Ward of Eleven Fifty Academy

This interview was conducted by Erica Freedman, Content Specialist at SwitchUp.

Madyson Ward decided it was time to tackle a tech career and took the leap to join Eleven Fifty Academy in the Fall of 2017. After graduating the program, she landed a job at a company that encourages her to learn, think, and participate on a Senior level, despite being in a Junior position. After looking at a bunch of out-of-state programs, she chose Eleven Fifty Academy because of its physical convenience but also because “The purpose of their bootcamp is not to make students experts, but to teach them how to continuously learn and excel in their careers.” Learn more about her exciting journey to Software Development and see how Eleven Fifty Academy helped her to get there in our interview below:

You currently work as a Junior Software Developer at 120WaterAudit. What does this title mean and what does an average day look like for you?

I am very fortunate in that my title at 120WaterAudit has more to do with level of experience than dictating my day-to-day work.  Our team of five is great with making knowledge-share a top-priority, and despite the fact that I’m the only Junior, I’m always included and encouraged to work in areas where my knowledge is limited.  It’s not only great for my growth as a developer, but a smart move on behalf of the company, because, for instance, if one person is taking PTO, anyone is able to take over their work without a million questions needing to be asked.  The average day for me here varies, and I can be found working on anything from our APIs, building out new UI features, writing automation scripts, adding migrations to our database, testing and deploying new releases, integrating devops tools, or in meetings.  It really depends on the day and what we have going on in the company outside of the engineering team.

How did you decide to attend Eleven Fifty Academy as opposed to other bootcamp programs?

When first researching bootcamps, I came across a lot of online options.  I’ve done online coursework before, but I’m pretty outgoing and wanted something that was done in person.  So I did some googling and found Eleven Fifty Academy, and it just so happened to be a fifteen minute drive from me. The short distance was ideal, but that didn’t mean it was the best option. After looking into out-of-state programs and comparing, I found what made Eleven Fifty stand out: the purpose of their bootcamp is not to make students experts, but to teach them how to continuously learn and excel in their careers.  The tech industry is rapidly-evolving, and knowing that alone can be daunting when thinking about what it will take to keep up. Having a sense of security in your ability to keep up, as well as confidence in yourself as a coder, sounded as important as it is, and every time either of those starts to shake a bit, I can go back to my “roots”: Eleven Fifty Academy.

What did you study at Eleven Fifty Academy?

I studied in the Fall 2017 JavaScript cohort.

How do you feel this course of study has helped your professional career?

As a coder, you’re going to come across a lot of brain-draining problems.  There’s going to be bugs you have to solve, features you need to create, and platforms you need to build where you are absolutely going to hit a brick wall.  In these times, you need to hone in not only on your resiliency but the confidence you have in your ability. There will be problems that you may get stuck on for days at a time, and you might be blocked from working on anything else until they’re solved.  Eleven Fifty taught me “up-to-date” technical skills that I can consistently build on top of (they’re constantly reviewing and revising their programs based on what students need to know going into the workforce), and were great at informing students of “unspoken rules” and coder etiquette – all of which builds a solid foundation.  More so, I cannot express enough how important of a role the confidence they taught us has played in my career so far. Words cannot possibly do justice regarding the ways they’ve set me up for success. I am forever grateful.

Did you attend Eleven Fifty Academy to attempt to change your career path, or improve the path you were already on?

I attended Eleven Fifty Academy to jumpstart a career-path I wanted to take.

What are the courses like at Eleven Fifty Academy?

The courses are straightforward, well thought out, and methodical in the way they are taught.  The first few weeks consist mostly of lectures and coding along with the instructors and your peers, and take a lot of focus.  Establishing relationships and good communication with your classmates during this time is vital, and makes for an important part of the experience throughout the program, and in your time beyond.  The weeks following are structured so you build your confidence as a coder and really prepare for your career. During this time, you’ll be pushed and struggling is to be expected – but being able to look back and see where I was even a week before was so helpful.  The courses take a lot out of you, and you really have to put your life on hold (having a group of family/friends who are supportive and understand your endeavors is very helpful). The effort you put in, however, plays a huge role in determining what you get out of it.

Would you recommend this program to other students? Why or why not?

Absolutely!  It’s not for everyone, but if you are motivated, enjoy learning, and seeking opportunity within Indy’s growing tech community, I 110% recommend Eleven Fifty Academy.  I’ve made life-long friends, received incredible opportunities during my time as a student, and since graduating, I’ve continued to be presented with opportunities that seven short months ago, I would not have dreamed of.  I went through the program to gain the skills necessary for a career developing software, and I left with so much more.

Were there any scholarships or financial assistance offered prior to beginning the program?

Yes, EmployUp was common among the majority of the class, although I did not go through any scholarship or financial assistance.

What was the application and admission process like?

I scheduled an appointment to talk with the admissions administration, liked what I saw and was asked to complete the two-day “Intro to Coding” weekend class as a prerequisite.  Upon completing the class, students were told to talk with Alex if they were interested in proceeding forward to the twelve-week program. Alex provided lots of information and made himself readily available to answer all questions.  I came in the next day with a check, was assigned and completed the pre-work (which I found to be vital once the program started). It was very straightforward and hassle-free.

Did you have mentors at Eleven Fifty Academy?

I found a great mentor in one of my instructors, Paul O’Connor. His thought-process was pretty similar to my own, and he did one of the best things that could possibly do for me – purposely NOT help me.  I think this statement really speaks to the efforts on Eleven Fifty Academy’s part to know their students and create a healthy environment which caters to many styles of learning. Although Paul particularly stood out in regards to learning the technical skills, I want to say that each and every individual behind the organization went above and beyond to ensure students had everything they needed to succeed.  Regardless of how much time, effort, and (sometimes) patience was needed, if a student has an ask, at least one member of Eleven Fifty’s staff had at least one answer

How about career services? What were those like?

My experience with career services was, much like with the program as a whole, what you put in, is what you get out.  The integration with the rest of the program was done in stages, and it was very nice knowing that, if you presented the career advisor, Chris, with information regarding what you wanted in your career, he’d be working behind the scenes to find opportunities for you.  My “why” for this career path is wanting to do something about the environment, and the day before graduation, I accepted a job offer at a company that does just that – 120WaterAudit!

Would you like to learn about more alumni experiences at Eleven Fifty Academy? Read verified alumni reviews of their program on SwitchUp.

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