Alumni Spotlight: My Life As a Software Developer at Google

Alumni Spotlight By Tech Elevator Campus Director, Marty Mordarski

Rebecca Sullivan was working in marketing when she decided to forge a new career path in software development. She enrolled in Alumni Spotlight - Rebecca Tech Elevator’s coding bootcamp in 2016, and today, works as a Software Engineer at Google.

Are you interested in following a similar path to reinvention? Read on to learn more about Rebecca’s journey into software development, how Tech Elevator played a big role in forging a new career path, and what it’s like working as an engineer at Google.

How Rebecca Created a Successful Path in Tech

Rebecca didn’t start out in software development. In fact, she studied Music Performance before getting an MBA in marketing from Case Western Reserve University. After graduating, she worked as a digital marketer, but she soon found that she could create higher-quality visual content if she learned front-end coding. She began to consider learning HTML or CSS and started looking through free resources online.

The more she looked through these resources, the more she realized her passion and curiosity for coding and the tech industry in general. When asked about what drew her to coding, Rebecca shares, “If you like constant learning and constant change [then tech is a good fit]; I find that really exciting.” The free resources, however, didn’t provide a good learning structure to become a professional coder, so she began to look into applying for a coding bootcamp.

When she came across Tech Elevator, she realized it was exactly what she was looking for. Tech Elevator stood out from its competitors for several reasons, including the instructors who have (on average) 20+ years of real-life coding experience. Not only did Rebecca quit her full-time job, but her husband did too. They both took a leap and enrolled in the program together. While Rebecca now works as a Software Engineer at Google, her husband works as a Software Developer at Facebook.

Alumni Spotlight - Group Photo

The bootcamp took a lot of hard work, but Rebecca found the experience to be extremely rewarding. The course taught her both the technical skills required to be a software developer, as well as the soft skills—thanks to the Pathway Program—for landing a job in the field. Because the program is largely self-study with no grades, students can get what they put in, with no limit to what they can learn. (Tech Elevator’s Pathway Program is a career prep program led by a team of professional career coaches.)

“The technical curriculum and the Pathway Program™ are hugely valuable,” Rebecca notes. “I tried to really take advantage of both of those throughout the program. At the end of the day, it’s not a long period of time—it’s a sprint, not a marathon.”

Alumni Spotlight - Group Photo

Rebecca appreciated that the coding bootcamp was taught by successful developers with a wealth of knowledge who she could talk to at any time. She also found that the local contacts she gained through the program were an invaluable part of the experience. In fact, she reached out to many people in the tech industry for coffee while in the program, and once she began job hunting, it was easy to reach out to them once again for advice. By the time she graduated the program, Rebecca felt well-positioned for her job search. And she was right: she started her first software development job at Hyland Software the Monday after the bootcamp ended.

A Day in the Life of A Software Engineer at Google

As a Software Engineer at Google, Rebecca works on the Drive API team where she develops back-end infrastructure and implements quality-of-life updates to improve back-end health. A typical day for Rebecca depends on the life cycle of the projects she’s working on; some days, she implements new software features and associated unit tests, while others she writes design documentation for planned features, or updates the Drive API documentation for third-party developers.

A typical day might also involve collaboration with other developers to plan and implement new features. These features can cover anything from creating robust software migration pipelines so that end users don’t experience any downtime, to adding new methods to the Drive API for third-party developers.

A big perk of the job: Rebecca loves that she’s always learning new things. The technology field is broad and rapidly changing, so there are always new technologies to learn. She also appreciates the versatility of a career in technology. Even if a developer isn’t interested in a specific product or industry, the behind-the-scenes technical problems can still be fascinating to solve.

Getting Started: Advice to Aspiring Coders

Rebecca has plenty of excellent advice to share with aspiring coders: “Coding is very popular to get into right now, and I’ve talked to a lot of people who get lured in by the potential high salaries without considering whether they will enjoy the job. My biggest advice is to figure out if you like coding by taking advantage of as many free resources as you can find and talking to developers about what they do in their day-to-day life. Find out whether you like constant learning and constant change.”

For anyone still nervous about signing up for a bootcamp, Rebecca suggests considering your own situation and ensuring you can dedicate the necessary time to the bootcamp. “If you go in with your eyes wide open regarding whether you like tech, and whether you can dedicate the necessary hours to the program, then the downsides are pretty low. At the end of the bootcamp, you’ll have skills that are valuable in not just the tech industry, but in every industry.”

Ready to get started? Take our free Aptitude Test to see if a career in coding could be a fit for you.

Alumni Spotlight - Marty Mordarski

About Marty Mordarski

Marty Mordarski is Cleveland Campus Director for Tech Elevator, an intensive, 14-week software developer training program. With over 20 years of combined experience in business, adult learning, and youth coaching, he often writes and speaks on topics related to talent attraction, retention, and development; resilience; and helping others achieve their potential.