0-100: Working in Tech with No Tech Experience

I found myself seated at the corner desk (a spot I earned by being the last to arrive on our start day), in a room filled exclusively with engineers and math majors, Java TAs and Girls Who Code volunteers. A group of people who had spent their college careers designing prototypes in CAD, writing code in C++, and data modeling in Matlab. By contrast, my nights at the university library were spent writing long-form essays and reading about price elasticity. Java to me was a type of coffee bean, HTML four letters strung together.

I marched into my first days at srcLogic’s technical consulting boot camp, a training program that focuses on both business analysis and software development, feeling confident in my ability to problem-solve and communicate as a consultant. I felt much less secure, however, about translating solutions into code. As an Economics and Creative Writing double-major in college, my exposure to technical software consisted of exactly one semester’s worth of Stata, a statistical analysis program that involves no coding. I felt woefully unprepared for what came next.

Our first three weeks were a deep dive into the world of databases and website creation. We covered SQL, then Java, and as a capstone were tasked with building our own business process management application. Though my grasp on Java at this point felt tenuous at best, I was happy with my contributions to our team, and independently learned some basics of HTML to build some of the user interfaces our application needed.

Despite some of my small successes in the world of coding, I was happy to move on to the next module of our training, which was centered around learning an application-building platform called Pegasystems. Though it is more intuitive than pure coding, Pegasystems has its own set of intricacies that I had to work to understand. During our introductory session to the application, a principal at the firm asked me if I knew where to create a property—in the data class or the work class. I felt extreme dread clutch at my stomach, and answered that I simply did not know.

From the time of that first lesson we had two weeks to independently study and pass an exam, with the goal of achieving the Pegasystems Systems Architect certification. I was determined to absorb as much of the material as I could in that time, and in the week leading up to exam spent eight hours every day at the office studying the material, and an additional six hours each night doing the same. I passed the exam by a comfortable margin, and left the test center riding a wave of relief.

Though I am officially certified in Pegasystems, I am by no means an expert. I am currently working with the rest of my training team to build our own software solution in the program, and I wrestle daily with different aspects of development. I have some distance to cover, but I can comfortably speak about the basic structure of the application, and have mastered particular elements of it—a week of struggling with the creation of an “items request” table, for instance, yielded a wealth of knowledge about formatting a dynamic layout.

Last week, on the train home from work, I overheard a group of software developers discussing their coding responsibilities—throwing around words like “front-end CSS development” and “database management.” I could immediately picture what they meant, what those lines of code might look like and the types of interfaces they used. Five months ago as a newly minted graduate, I would have been at a loss to even identify them as developers. Learning software development has been difficult, but also incredibly rewarding. Armed with srcLogic’s training, I now feel well equipped to navigate a world that is becoming increasingly driven by technology.