Rheannone Ball used to work as a freelance ecommerce entrepreneur building Shopify startups. A decade later, she decided it was time for a career change into tech. To jumpstart her journey, she enrolled at App Academy and spent a total of six months solely focused on completing her full-time software engineering course. Through hard work and dedication, Rheannone is now a blockchain front end engineer for Geometry Labs, an exciting startup.
Here’s her story.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending App Academy?
I was responsible for creating a handful of Shopify startups. Right before starting the bootcamp, I had built a custom integration of 13 warehouses in the US and was in charge of updating a Shopify inventory every six minutes. People have called me a “hustler” before, but I really did everything and anything relating to “e-commerce entrepreneurship” to make it in New York City.
What motivated you to explore a new career or upskill in your existing field, and why did you decide to pick this program?
I wanted a professional certificate to formalize my decade of freelancing and building. I was not willing to take out a student loan to learn coding. Regardless of its payment plan, App Academy was simply the best bootcamp. It was perfect for me as a self-starter who just needed a little extra support to make a career transition.
How did you finance your education, and what were some of your biggest considerations when making this choice?
I had to save up money, cash in assets, find side projects, and get lucky on the stock market a few times. It was hard not to work at all for six months to focus on App Academy. I did not want to go into additional debt to learn coding.
What did you like about the program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
What was taught in the bootcamp actually came in handy in my job. However, the most valuable part of App Academy is what happens after you pass all of your weekly assessments. The career coaches and placements team are extremely talented at what they do.
How did you fit the program into your schedule?
It would be better to ask “how did you fit your schedule into the program?” because the truth is I did not have time for anything except studying. I was lucky that my schedule and/or life did not interfere with my studies.
Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?
While carefully creating my portfolio, rheannone.com, I also included some of my capstone projects from bootcamp.
Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?
You need to ask yourself the following questions: Am I ready to make this my #1 priority? How much am I willing to sacrifice to make this career transition? What is the hardest thing I have ever done? What can I learn from that to get through this?
How did the program support you in finding a job?
There is a section of the curriculum dedicated to landing a job and each student has a career coach to give them personal advice. My coach helped me build my confidence to get through interviews and provided me with technical help in areas I struggled with.
Was the job search process different from what you expected?
No, it was what I expected. Lots of applications, interviews, and continued studying. App Academy told us what to expect. It was exactly what they told us it would be.
How many companies did you interview at? How did you choose which one to work with?
I think I interviewed with seven to 10 companies. I chose the company I work with now because I wanted to learn more about blockchain technology. Originally, I did not want to work at a startup, but I’ve learned I’m uniquely suited to succeed in a fast-paced environment. I chose the company because I knew I would not get bored and each day would be challenging and interesting.
How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?
App Academy ensured we had working practical knowledge of major development languages. They taught us how to use what we know to come up with solutions to the challenges we encountered. Sometimes I am working with a new version of React, just like we were taught, but more often, I am presented with versions I’m not familiar with or languages I have never seen before, and I know I’ll figure it out in the end.
What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?
I am much more confident in my skills. As a freelancer, I was constantly selling myself short. Now that I have a piece of paper, deeper “elevens” between my eyes, and my first gray hair from bootcamp, I finally know my worth!
What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work?
I love figuring stuff out and building stuff. As the ONLY front end engineer at this startup, every day I am presented with new, interesting problems. My team is extremely intelligent and helpful, but I am where the buck stops when it comes to the front end.
I knew there would be this level of pressure if I accepted a role at a startup, but I didn’t know how much I would like it! Between looking up blockchain vocabulary, working at my first “real” tech company, and figuring out how to thrive in our “new normal” remote-first world, it has been a doozy.
What do you enjoy about working at your current company, are there any specific perks you enjoy?
I love how much there is to learn. The pay is excellent, but it would be worthless to me if I did not enjoy my work. The company is new but built with care. The employees are taken care of, we have effective channels of communication, and I think we’re all basically happy. It’s very refreshing.
Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?
Wake up every day and get ready to conquer the world! Do your very best!
Look into the mirror and tell yourself how kind and smart and wonderful you are and you better not laugh because it’s not a joke! “Grit is a greater indicator of success than talent” so don’t give up, EVER! All of your struggles are also the most valuable lessons. Learn how to fail gracefully.