Lightening — A graduate’s story

Enspiral Dev Academy trains beginners into work-ready junior developers through 5-15 weeks of remote study and a 9 week intensive in-class bootcamp in Auckland or Wellington, New Zealand.

Meet Naeri Adam Fernandez, a Dev Academy graduate turned teaching assistant who just landed a full time job at Vend.

Naeri was 80% through a midwifery degree when she first looked into Dev Academy.

Naeri Adam Fernandez, Dev Academy graduate

“Midwifery is such an important job, and there’s huge amount of responsibility involved with your clients’ wellbeing, both on the emotional and physical level. It also deals a lot with the emotional brain and that kind of problem solving. Although I really loved midwifery and found it very rewarding, I found it very draining, the fit wasn’t quite right. ”

She decided she wanted to enter the software development industry on the same day that she decided to discontinue her midwifery studies.

“In highschool I really liked math and physics and that kind of logical, systematic stuff — that made a lot of sense to me. So I made the decision based on that, and the fact that I found the concept of programming really interesting. Because it’s not just logical: it’s an industry that is creative, constantly changing and growing and you can learn forever — there’s no limit to how much you can learn, and you can go in so many different directions. And you can work anywhere. It’s kind of the dream job!”

She started learning C++ out of an online textbook, with the intention of being self-taught.

“There’s no limit to how much you can learn, and you can go in so many different directions. And you can work anywhere. It’s kind of the dream job!”

“I didn’t want to go back to university for 3 years. So when I came across Dev Academy and saw that it is 18 weeks, intensive, and you’ve got a solid chance of getting a job at the end if you can get through it, it ticked all of my boxes.”

Naeri found Foundations, the at-home preparation phase, to be a welcome challenge.

“I thought my personality was more of the creative and empathetic brain, but somehow my mind could figure this out too. That was a great thing to learn.”

“Foundations is not easy, but not unmanageable. It was a good preparation because programming is very challenging, and you get stuck a lot — that’s the reality of it, and you have to accept that if you’re going to do it. So it prepares you for that, because you have to tackle problems that are outside of your comfort zone. That’s what you do every day as a developer, and overcoming these hurdles is part of what makes it so rewarding. “

She then entered Bootcamp in February 2017.

“My highest point was completing the final project and presenting it, because we’re really proud of what we created. We scraped the parliamentary website for current Bills, and we created BillsWorld, a website where you can read about them, vote on them and have discussions, making them more accessible for people who might feel out of their depth in political conversations. It was around election time, so that was really cool.”

“It’s just really inspiring to realise how much you can learn in such a short of time.”

“My lowest point was just that I had a lot on. I had two more papers to do in order to complete my Bachelor of Health Sciences, so I was doing them at the same time, and I was also doing some care work shifts here and there to help my finances. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this approach, it was more stress than it was worth! But it showed me what I’m capable of.”

“Dev Academy is not like any learning I’ve ever done before. My brain has never felt so intensely overloaded in any other situation. Sometimes it felt like it was going to explode, like there’s no room left in there. Rather than learning something and then going over it and consolidating it later, a lot of the learning at Dev Academy is about setting the context for later subjects. So even if you don’t know it perfectly, you understand the idea of it and how it works, and then you learn it better later, maybe in a different way. Then when you come back to look at it later it’s like the mystery resolves and it suddenly makes sense.”

“I never felt like I might fail. It felt under control. It was intense in a good way. It’s just really inspiring to realise how much you can learn in such a short of time. That’s what I loved about it, because you just don’t think you’re capable of that kind of learning, and then it’s like, OK. I can actually do this. It puts you in a good place to take on challenges you might not have been confident to take on in the past.”

“Dev Academy is an amazing learning opportunity and you come out a lot more enriched than you went in. I think anyone can learn really valuable skills.”

Naeri got through bootcamp only to encounter another challenge upon graduation.

“I found out I needed surgery on my wrist soon after I left bootcamp, so I couldn’t get a fulltime job, because it required a three month recovery process.”

“That’s what I loved about it, because you just don’t think you’re capable of that kind of learning, and then it’s like, OK. I can actually do this.”

Undaunted, Naeri took on contract work instead, as this could be flexible enough to suit her timeframes. She took on contracts that scared her, and bit by bit, found she could complete the work.

“I feel like Dev Academy was great at preparing me for getting a job. You do need to revise after bootcamp, that’s important. I mean, you could go straight into a job after Dev Academy. But if you have a break between Dev Academy and getting a job, you do need to consolidate everything because it’s really easy to forget it, and I consolidated my learning through contract work. Then Dev Academy’s lead teacher Don Smith approached me about a teaching assistant job, which I could do in a cast, and this allowed me to go over all the basics again, which was so helpful.”

“And now I am able to work full-time, so I just got offered a job, which is awesome!”

Naeri emphasised that her job search process was “a bit of an unfair example” because she felt she got really lucky. But more than luck, Naeri used the network that she’d built through Dev Academy to land a job.

“I searched for two days and sent seven applications, half of which were emails to people I’d met. Some of them I met when Dev Academy partnered with the Vodafone Foundation and sent a crew of volunteers to help out on the Vodafone Accelerator, where we built tech projects for community organisations. It was a big confidence boost to observe that the Dev Academy grads provided as much value as the other technical volunteers, some of whom were working developers. I didn’t feel at a disadvantage at all, and our knowledge of the React library made us extremely relevant and beneficial to the teams.”

The people at the Vodafone Accelerator were so impressed with these students that one actually tweeted at Dev Academy:

“Dev Academy, if you are wondering… 4 days in on a community project and your grads have a ship-able MVP!”

“Someone I had emailed had contacts at Vend and was able to set up an interview. I met them within a week. It was really good timing, they had a vacancy opening up that was a good fit so it panned out really nicely.”

Naeri notes, “I was really nervous going into the technical interview. They asked about all aspects of development like testing, debugging, etc. I was nervous but once I got there, they made me feel really comfortable, despite asking me technical questions. I felt like the way they conducted it was really great, only about half of the conversation was around technical questions, the rest was chatting about Vend as a company and other things so I didn’t feel like I was being grilled.”

In her new job, Naeri will be working with JavaScript, and maybe a little bit of PHP. So does she feel ready to be a full-time web developer?

“The amazing thing about Dev Academy is it shows you how much you can learn, and it gives you the foundation to take on the challenge of learning different programming languages and libraries. So I know it’s going to be hard, but I feel confident. I’ve done a bootcamp! I sort of feel like I can do anything.”

If you’d like to learn the skills to begin your journey into technology, Join Dev Academy today. Start the preparation phase through remote learning, before entering the in-class bootcamp in Auckland or Wellington. Graduate only 9 weeks later with the skills to become a junior web developer and craft the future. Apply now.