Alumni Stories

Laying a Foundation for Tech Success

Alyssa Wiser

Laying a Foundation for Tech Success
Full-Stack '22
Alyssa's Story

Alyssa Wiser’s family convinced her trade school was the way to go after she graduated high school. So, she followed that route and began a career as a union ironworker forging buildings in downtown Indianapolis. The job was initially exciting and fun, but Alyssa slowly realized the path she had chosen was not exactly what she wanted out of life. She had to pivot toward a rewarding career that made her feel more comfortable.

Making a Change

I was seeing people of about 50 and they’re in so much pain and I was like, you know what? Maybe this isn’t for me. And I wasn’t treated the best as a female in a men’s working area. So, I was just over that kind of environment as well, because it was kind of draining, just constantly being around that. So I quit, and I currently work in a warehouse job just to make ends meet. But I thought, I don’t want to work here forever. So I have to figure out what I want to do because I do not want to be here any longer.

Discovering the Tech Path

I actually have a friend from high school who started coding super early. We were pretty close friends and I know he went to Kenzie Academy, so I was like, hey, what is this about? Tell me more. I was just telling him stuff that I’d want to do and he says, well this sounds like you might be into coding. So I looked into it, got approved, and I started attending class and then that third week I was like, yes, this is it for me. This is what I want to do. So, coding kind of became a passion after that.

Going the Tech Program Route

I asked my friend, is it possible to really get a job with no degree? Because that’s the whole reason I really wanted to go to a trade school. I didn’t want to go through college — I didn’t have the money for that. So, I was asking him about it and yeah, I found out, it is possible to get a job without a degree.

Overcoming Doubts

I definitely had doubts because I had zero knowledge of anything. And I thought people that go here probably already know what coding is. I was like, I don’t think I’m smart enough for that. I just came out of the union, you don’t have to use that much intelligence to really do anything like that. I was having concerns about the scheduling and it was good to know that it’s an open schedule. When you have the time, you can do that. The Kenzie Team told me a lot of students actually come in not really knowing anything. They just want to better their lives. I was like, that sounds like me.

Facing Financial Hesitation

I almost did not come at all … I thought, I really don’t have the money for that, so I don’t think this is going to work. I ended up picking shifts at work to make this happen because I was like, I’m not going to be able to afford this. But part of me thought, you should do this! This will be worth it in the long run. So, I definitely almost didn’t come because of the financial situation, but to me, it is worth it. It is definitely worth it.

Progress Through Collaboration

I’ve actually gotten pretty close with some of my peers in my cohort and, to me, that’s family. I’m getting close to the end of my cohort and having people that struggle with you and have the same issue, you can work together and just try to figure it out. That has helped me so much. And then, you see things from a different perspective and the other person might say, hey have you thought of this? And you’re like, no, I completely didn’t even think of that! Different ideas — it helps me a lot.

A Support System for Motivation

Every time I have doubts or I’m just unmotivated, the Kenzie Team has tips for everything. They’ll help you through so much and there have been long nights I’ve spent just frustrated, trying to learn this, and I come to them and they are like, okay, calm down a little, let’s take this step by step. They’ll do what they call a development plan for the assignment I’m working on — do it step by step. Do this first, because right now you’re looking at the big picture, and that sometimes overwhelms me. So, it’s really good to learn step by step and I’ve just gotten so much help through that because it’s hard for me to stay motivated.

One Step at a Time

I have not started looking into different careers, jobs, or companies. As I said, looking at the big picture overwhelms me. So, I try to do things step by step. Just get your assignments done for this week, and if you have free time, start looking into different web developers on the internet. See what they’re saying, where they work, how they feel about where they’re at, and just getting a feel for people that are actually in the career. That helps me sort out what I want in life.

The Value of Diversity

If I’m looking for a career, I want to know how diverse a company is. Because if it’s predominantly white, it makes me think maybe they’re overlooking phenomenal developers of different races. It rubs me the wrong way. That’s exactly one of the things I love about Kenzie. I believe diversity is very important in any kind of group because you can learn things that maybe you haven’t been exposed to yet and it just gives you a better knowledge of how things work. I love hearing different people’s perspectives on life and learning and all kinds of things. So, diversity would be definitely one of the things that I look for in a company or school or just anything, really.

A Safe and Comfortable Environment

I feel like I can be myself. When I was ironworking, I wouldn’t tell them I’m gay. I didn’t peep a word at anybody. It might be obvious, but some people don’t think it’s obvious, so they kind of overlook it. And I did not want to tell anybody because I hear the things that they say about certain things and I’m like, I don’t want to be in this environment constantly. It’s draining, it’s just exhausting to hear people talk about things often, all the time.

With tech, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of diversity and that makes me feel more comfortable and like I can actually be myself and actually talk to people and socialize more than I did when I was in the union. It’s nice to actually be comfortable in the career choice from that perspective.

A new career in tech could be on the horizon for you! Will you take the opportunity? A Kenzie Academy program can help you build a foundation for a bright future in a growing industry. Apply today and begin your journey!

"The Kenzie Team told me a lot of students actually come in not really knowing anything. They just want to better their lives. I was like, that sounds like me."
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