Bootcamp Grad Spotlight: Rachel Funk of Tech Elevator

After spending more than six years in one job role, Rachel set out on a quest to find a more challenging and fulfilling career. After witnessing the success of the bootcamp model secondhand, she decided to enroll into Tech Elevator’s .NET class. Now she’s successfully employed & is full-steam ahead in a career with unlimited potential.

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So tell me... why did you decide to attend a bootcamp?

Rachel: “Three reasons!

One: I didn't believe I was living up to my full professional potential. I had a reliable job, but after being there for six and a half years, I was no longer feeling challenged and I wasn’t happy there. I had reached my learning potential’s limit. It was time to find something new and more fulfilling with lots of opportunities and options.

Two: The bootcamp would be a chance for immersion in technologies that I didn't know or understand. I needed to stay relevant in my skill sets to start making the type of income I felt I was worth. Software development isn't always about being in love with the latest tech gadgets and apps - it’s more about understanding a complex issue well enough to find out how to reach a solution. I always enjoyed being a problem solver, in both my professional and personal life, so it seemed like a good fit!

Three: I had a lot of faith in the bootcamp model even prior to taking the plunge myself. Although I am a healthy skeptic, I knew this intense new method of learning worked. My husband attended Tech Elevator the year before to learn Java and the program had drastically improved his professional life. Now he loves his new career as a junior software developer. After seeing how his decision to attend Tech Elevator had positively impacted his life, I decided to do the same for myself.”

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Rachel: “Tech Elevator was right for me because of the high caliber of instructors as well as the nationally recognized professional development offered through the Pathway Program.

My instructors were experienced, brilliant, patient people who truly wanted every student to understand the concepts. Individual tutoring sessions were available when I needed extra help. Because of the small class size, you get a lot of one-on-one attention and learning opportunities.

A lot of bootcamps can provide a student with the necessary coursework, but some of those camps aren't dedicated to helping students land that first position in the field. The Pathway Program at Tech Elevator is dedicated to helping students find employment upon graduation.”

tell me more about the pathway program!

Rachel: “The Pathway Program is fantastic. It’s a huge part of how students find employment after Tech Elevator.

The Pathway Program works in conjunction with the coursework at Tech Elevator. Events are mostly optional, but any student should participate regardless of their professional level. Trust me!

One of the first projects is focused on crafting your resume. I worked hand in hand with the career director, who gave me suggestions on improvements. I used the resume in multiple interviews and quickly landed a great job.

Much of my ability to secure employment upon completion of the cohort was due to the sound guidance I received through the Pathway Program. I would typically visit our career director at least once a week to get an opinion on how to court potential employers (when to push for the next interview, whether or not to email or handwrite a thank you note for an interview, what to say when asked about salary requirements, etc).

The program is very comprehensive for developing and perfecting soft professional skills. Tech Elevator is committed to bringing top employers to meet and interact with students on site. In fact, the Matchmaking event toward the end of the program allows students to participate in on-site interviews with up to 10 employers in two days. I was fortunate enough to have three additional interviews due to the connections I made during that event. It was not only an incredible experience but a highly valuable networking opportunity that wouldn’t have been available to me otherwise.”

What is the one thing you wish you knew prior to attending Tech Elevator?

Rachel: “I wish I would have been a stronger coder prior to diving in head first. Although I learned the concepts I needed while I attended, I wish I would have spent more time getting to know the basics before I put in my application. If I had more of a solid background, I think the first few weeks would have been easier for me. The pre-work that students are sent before class begins is very helpful in some basic preparation, but I wish I had worked on a few small projects beforehand.”

What advice would you give to a student looking to attend Tech Elevator?

Rachel: “Hang in there! I know I felt very overwhelmed during the first month. During the first few weeks I even questioned whether or not Tech Elevator had made a mistake in admitting me as a student.

I had a guidance counselor back in middle school who used to always say, ‘Your attitude is your altitude.’ A very dorky catch phrase, but it’s helped me out a lot!

Despite a lot of self-doubt, I changed my attitude. I decided that I would make the most of it and learn as much as possible. I reached out to others when I knew I needed extra help. I took advantage of additional tutoring. I reminded myself that I could make it work for the duration of the program.

So, I would advise any bootcamp student to stay the course; don't give up even if you feel like you can't continue. Stay dedicated to the work and believe in yourself. Embrace the ambiguity. Everyone has a certain level of imposter syndrome. But, you are exactly where you are supposed to be and you absolutely can learn these skills.”

Skills Fund’s partner Tech Elevator equips students with the skills required to get them where they want to be. Looking for a career in web development? Explore their website and take a short aptitude test here, and learn more about our partnership here.