Jessica Trujillo was only 21 when she joined the military as a Persian Farsi linguist. After eight years of service, that chapter of her life came to an end and she embarked on a backpacking trip across the world with her cousin. Several years down the road, Jessica knew she had to figure out her next big step but like many of us, she wasn’t sure which path to take.
“I knew that I wanted to find a line of work where I can be remote. I looked into many different career paths like massage therapy but there are still certain things that would limit me from being mobile.
“That’s when my friend suggested coding bootcamps. I did some computer programming in high school and I enjoyed that so I figured this might be a good idea. I started looking into coding bootcamps and after some research, I found Sabio. I have loved it since,” she revealed in an interview with Career Karma.
According to Jessica, Sabio was a perfect choice because it was the only coding bootcamp nearby that accepted the GI Bill—a requirement that was important to her.
As a school that promotes inclusion and diversity, Sabio has made it its mission to make tech education accessible to aspirants from all walks of life, including veterans. It was one of the first bootcamps in California to ever accept the GI Bill for Military Veterans and or Military-Connected Individuals in 2018, after two years of discussions with the California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education (CSAAVE).
This initiative has paved the way for hundreds of qualified military veterans to find their footing in tech and learn to code with Sabio. Today, the school has expanded its offerings to cover a number of VA Benefits. Learn more about Sabio’s Veterans in Tech initiative and how you can start your application process here.
“The process of applying with GI Bill is fairly simple. The benefits have to be officially approved by the relevant authorities but it’s straight-forward and easy. I was the second cohort to have used GI Bill at Sabio but I know a lot of other veterans who managed to use the benefits since then,” Jessica said.
“Sabio Was the Best Decision I Have Ever Made”
According to Jessica, her journey of learning to code was no walk in the park, adding that at some points it felt like “drinking water straight from the firehose”. However, she managed to complete the course, thanks to the supportive and positive environment that Sabio fosters.
“I love software development. It’s both great and tough, frustrating yet fulfilling. I did full-time, which meant 12 hours a day for five days a week and another eight hours on Saturdays. I’d stay on after that to do more practice and whiteboarding with the rest.
“I was in the same cohort with three boys who had some technical background so they were familiar with the concepts that the rest of us weren’t. They’d take the time after class to explain them to us, break things down, and work with us so we’re caught up too.
“I’m very fortunate that way but I wouldn’t say it’s a unique experience because I hear the same from other cohorts. Going through the same intense experience helped us build stronger bonds, which is just wonderful,” Jessica said.
“I was worried about not getting a job because I didn’t feel like I knew enough but when I took on my first and second software development jobs, I noticed how there were university graduates being hired to do the same tasks that I was also doing when I personally only had months of intense learning. Sabio really gives you the tools you need to do the job,” she said.
Jessica, who has now found a job she loves as a Business Application Developer II at Tandem Diabetes Care, also spoke highly of Sabio’s co-founders Liliana Aide Monge and Gregorio Rojas, adding that the duo employs a hands-on approach in the school’s operations.
“The co-founders are great and supportive. They encourage us to know our worth as developers, cheer us on, and give extra support to anyone who is struggling. It was a great experience,” she said.
“Liliana, especially, is constantly looking for opportunities for her students. The main Slack channel, called Sabio Nation, is always buzzing with job postings, online meetups, webinars—all kinds of opportunities the school can find.”
“The Sabio family also practices transparency. For instance, discussions about pay are normal. If you are shooting for a promotion but you’re unsure about the pay being offered, you can always ask for everyone else’s opinion. If you deserve more, Liliana will push you toward getting what you deserve. She’s our number one cheerleader,” she added.
Joining Microsoft’s LEAP Apprenticeship Program in January 2021
Jessica said she appreciates that Sabio maintains active communication with students and graduates through its numerous Slack channels. In fact, this was the avenue that opened up a new door for Jessica, one that introduced her to the coveted Microsoft LEAP Apprenticeship Program.
“So on the big Slack channel, Liliana had posted about the Microsoft LEAP Apprenticeship Program. It’s essentially a 16-week training program with different focus areas. The idea is at the end of it, you’ll polish your skills and stand a chance to be recruited by Microsoft.
“I found out about the opportunity on the day they’re closing the application so I didn’t really have a lot of time to work on it but Liliana pushed me to go for it. I submitted an essay and sent my resume for the technical program manager track and I got in. I’m starting this month so I’m very excited to see how it goes,” she said.
The paid program, established in 2015, is aimed at providing real-world development experience to participants and fostering inclusivity, and supporting diversity at Microsoft.
Sabio also maintains a great relationship with the tech giant. The school said that Microsoft is a company that has hired the most Sabio Fellows as of date. Sabio is also one of the original partners for the Microsoft LEAP Program and has had a longstanding track record of sending its fellows to undergo the acceleration program. Microsoft also organizes Info Session exclusively for Sabio Fellows to further explain the program.
Going Full Circle
Jessica has come a long way since signing up for her first-ever coding lessons with Sabio. Today, the veteran-turned-developer has her feet planted firmly in the tech sphere and she had also just bought her first house in November 2020. Jessica said she wishes to continue advocating Sabio’s culture; to lend a helping hand.
On top of her day job, Jessica has also taken on a paid position with Sabio where she tutors students on certain areas that they need improving. At the time of writing, she was mentoring a student on mock interviews and whiteboarding practices through screen-sharing.
“About a month ago, Liliana reached out to me about a student who is struggling with interviews. I felt like I could help so I offered my time. We’ve been working together for a few weeks now, twice a week over Zoom, and I can already see her progress. Hopefully, she’ll be able to pick up a position soon.”
“I also love that the students and alum would help each other out by posting about opportunities regularly. For instance, when I put in my two weeks’ notice at my first job, I put my position listing on the Slack channel and offered my referral. Within a week, the company hired a student from Sabio to replace me. It’s really cool,” she said.
Her positive experience had also motivated her mother and brother to make the jump into tech with the help of Sabio.
“They are doing the PreWork course with Sabio and they seem to enjoy it right now. They should be enrolling in a full-time course soon. They have the benefit of having someone like me who has done the course so it’d be interesting to see how this pans out,” she added.
Sabio: A Strong Candidate
Sabio was established in 2013 as an avenue to train the next generations of top-tier developers. With its welcoming policy, the school strives to cherish and promote diversity and inclusion through various initiatives like Veterans in Tech and Women in Tech, among others. It now boasts an 82% success rate, having produced over 850 tech professionals like Jessica and many others. If you’re interested to learn more, you can attend one of Sabio’s Online Info Sessions or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.