In our most recent white paper, “A job in software development – where to start?”, we look at the career change journey into software development. As part of the paper, we interviewed some of our graduates who have reskilled on our full-stack programme and who are progressing on their journey in software development. The graduates that we interviewed include Kira Estrada, Simen Daehlin and Adrian Rus.
Each of these students moved from one career to another. They learned the skills of programming and are now progressing quickly through various roles in software development. Their journeys have brought them on different paths using their programming skills.
In this story, we talk to Kira Estrada. Kira worked as a Montessori teacher for ten years before embarking on a career change to software development. Her story shows Kira’s rapid progression after learning to code on our full-stack programme.
Kira had been a Montessori teacher for ten years when she changed direction. “It felt that unless I opened my own crèche, I wouldn’t get any further in my career,” she says.
Kira knew tech offered great career prospects but felt unsure if software development was something for her. To put this to the test, she went to the local library and got out four children’s books on how to code. “I was used to seeing the world through children’s eyes, so why not coding? I really liked it and decided to give it a go.”
Code Institute Programme
Because she had to continue in her job looking after triplets, Kira needed an online course. Code Institute offered her this flexibility. “But more than this, I liked the people, their vibe, their helpfulness … it is very important for me to feel in sync with the people I work with.”
Kira would start her day at the crack of dawn to do an hour or two of studying before going to work from 8am to 5pm. “Then home and more study, usually from 9pm to midnight. You have to put the work in.”
“I’m not going to say that it wasn’t scary, because that would be totally a lie. There weren’t many women in my class, just three. That’s scary when you’re coming from an environment that was mostly women.
“The second thing was finding different ways to explain the coding to me. I feel like my way of learning is close to storytelling, again, purely from my background.”
Her Code Institute mentor was instrumental in helping Kira succeed on the course and get her through the challenging times.
She joined Women in Tech, the not-for-profit group, on a mission to close the gender gap in IT. At one of its events, Kira had a life-changing encounter with a powerful tech executive. “I said to her: ‘Listen, I’m making this change, but I’m very scared. I don’t know how I’m going to get a job.’ And her advice was: ‘Nobody moving into coding probably has the skills as a teacher that you have. My tip for you is just to reapply the skills that you have, those specialist skills that you are bringing from your experience into coding’.”
Kira never forgot this advice.
Landing a job
Shortly after graduating, she landed an interview with HubSpot, who immediately spotted her unique potential. “They said: ‘Coding and teaching could merge into our support service.’ Because when someone calls for help, you can explain the solution to them step by step, in a basic way, but also imaginatively. That’s something that really caught their attention.”
In early 2019, Kira started as an Associate Customer Support Specialist.
“In technical support, you get simple and complicated questions from ‘How do I turn it on?’ to ‘How do I fix my CSS?’ or ‘How do I integrate with Salesforce?’ And so I applied the concepts and knowledge I had learned at Code Institute to help people using HubSpot in real life.”
Kira climbed through the ranks and is currently a Senior Customer Onboarding Specialist. “Onboarding” is one of those techie words that seem a little mysterious, but it is a crucial part of any customer success story. “My job now is to implement systems with people who maybe have never worked with a CRM [Customer Relationship Management] solution before. So I go back to my storytelling skills to explain to them how they can get data to flow from Salesforce to HubSpot – that combination of tech and teaching that I love.”
The advice Kira gives to career changers going into tech is: “Reassign your skills”.
“That’s the advice that helped me and which I still apply to myself every day. When I get very complex customers, I think: ‘Okay, what skills could I give them that nobody else could give them related to this issue?’ And this helps me to help them!”
Kira Estrada is still passionate about getting more women into tech. “It’s important to put your voice out there, and it’s good to see more women in our industry.”
Her final words?
“Don’t fear change. That’s it. Above all, do not have any fear of change.”
Try the free Challenge
If you want to embark on your own coding journey, and if you want to find out more about the steps to making a career change to software development, you can download the white paper here. If you want to learn some of the basics of code for free, then check out our free 5 Day Coding Challenge. Register now through the form below.