A Fresh Start Coding at Florida Blue

Edna Jonsson is an alumna of the first UCF Coding Boot Camp. After experiencing a life-changing event, Edna decided she was going to dive into coding and do whatever it took to get a job. Edna shared her experience in the boot camp and how she has found success as a web developer.

What were you doing before the boot camp?

I was in real estate working as both a realtor and a property manager. That’s how I first got into developing. I was creating my own websites and getting into the HTML elements, and I found myself more interested in playing with the website than selling houses.

I had recently found out that my husband had embezzled large amounts of money and he left our family with a negative bank account and no home. I knew that this was the time to take this big leap and start a career in web development, and I was going to do whatever it took to make it work for my family.

How did you find out about the boot camp?

After deciding that this was my new path, I was trying to find ways to learn to code online. I thought I was going to just do it on the side, but I ran into an ad for the coding boot camp, and I decided right away that this is what I needed to do right now. I knew this was something that once I did it I would have the credentials from a reputable college and be able to find a job right away.

The interview process was a bit scary because I was not sure if I was going to make it, but I had a very positive attitude and knew I was committed to doing the work.

What was the hardest part of the boot camp?

I think I’m more of an exception to the normal student because I had so much going on in my personal life. I was homeless and was going through a divorce. The classroom felt like an escape for me. I was so happy being there, getting my life back on track, and making such a positive investment in my future.

The work was really hard. I got stuck on an assignment and wasn’t sure if I could do it, but the instructors were so positive. They would constantly tell me I could do it… [that] it’s just a different way of thinking. At any time during the boot camp, you could always go to the teaching assistants and instructor and get any help you needed.

One of the TAs, Victor, started his own workshop before class because several students were struggling. We would get together, and he would give us challenges that were similar to the homework so we had the right tools to figure it out on our own.

Career readiness is a big part of the program. How did the career services help set you up for success after graduation?

I had my Career Director’s phone number on speed dial because I needed to have a job after all of this. I call him my cheerleader because he was so enthusiastic about helping me. When I had an interview, I would call him before and after to let him know how it went and he would give me tips and recommendations. I also worked as a TA after graduating which helped keep everything I learned fresh in my mind.

Three months after graduating, I was hired at Florida Blue as a MERN stack developer, which was something I learned a lot about in the boot camp.

How did you get the job at Florida Blue?

I was contacted by a recruiter who had already hired two graduates from my cohort. So I talked to them first, and one of them was able to put in a good word for me, and I got the job. After working there for a while, I moved to Tennessee and was one of the first junior developers on the team to be able to work remotely. That was kind of a big deal.

What was the best part of the boot camp for you?

The first part I would say is just how enthusiastic everyone was. They really cared that you succeeded. They invested parts of themselves into the students. The staff had such pride in seeing students succeed.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who is considering enrolling in the coding boot camp?

Don’t hesitate. Just do it. Be ready for the investment of your time and your energy, and put 110% into what you’re doing, because if you don’t put in the work, it’s not magic…. You won’t make it. You have to be ready to learn and to start thinking in a different way.

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