Alumni Stories

Turning Opportunities into Tech Success

Kenzie Academy Full Stack Web Development Graduate
Ashley McKenzie
Turning Opportunities into Tech Success
Software Engineering* '21
  • Job Title
    Technical Recruiter
  • Employer After Graduation
Ashley's Story

Ashley McKenzie worked in administration and operations management at Regus when one of her clients pointed out how good she was at problem-solving. They even asked her if she ever thought about doing software engineering. She had never considered that career path, but after her client continually brought up the option, Ashley decided to look into it. Whatever her next step would be, she knew she wanted a change in her profession that would also impact her role as a parent and her home life.

Her Reason for Change

I didn’t want to have to worry about going to work for Uber and going to work at Target, and paying for a babysitter. I’m home with my kids now every day. I don’t miss anything. Every cheerleading practice, every event, and parent-teacher conference, I can say, hey, I’m taking the rest of the day off to go hang out with my mom. It’s liberation. It’s time freedom. It’s having the ability to have more than just a secure future for yourself. It’s the ability to be able to help your family. It’s the ability to be able to do things that you want to do — take stress off of yourself. Financial freedom does a lot for your mental health.

The Kenzie Experience

It was a positive experience. There were definitely some challenges, but I feel like we worked through them the best that we could. And if anything, those challenges taught us what real-life work would be like. You may expect one thing, but things change, plans change. We had to be able to adapt.

Life-Changing Relationships

I met my business partner there, a lot of other really good devs, and really good instructors. That program was definitely life-changing for me.

Working as a Team

Initially, I was like, man, one of the best parts of this is that you get to work alone a lot. But being able to work on capstones and learning how to work with such vast personalities was a necessity. And I got to meet a lot of people that I could learn from who were also learning the same things that I was. And that was really, really helpful.

First Job While at Kenzie

I was really, really fortunate in March of 2021, which was the last week of Q2 for me, I was hired as a lead developer at a startup. I mean, bottom startup, as in two people in the company. I was number three. My partner was number four. And we were surprised, but we showed them what we had, the projects that we’d done, and they entrusted that work to us. So that was really good.

Learning to Keep Learning

The best part about this job is that you’re never done learning. It’s not, oh, I’ve got this — now here’s what I do. You have to constantly keep up. My Coursera, my Udemy is full. I still have to pick up these things. Every week I’m still taking courses. I’m still learning because once you stop learning, you’re irrelevant. That’s just what it is. I’ve had fun with that. I’ve tried to make the best of that.

Landing a Job With SiteRX

That’s my exact niche. That is exactly where I want to be working in biomedical technology. I couldn’t believe that. I had one year of experience as a junior developer working for this startup. And with all the things that I’ve learned, collectively, from Kenzie and as well as that exposure with that job, I was able to land a mid-level position after one year, which is insane. They’re telling us, be ambitious, and the six-figure job is going to come, and to hold out. That it’s going to be there and it was!

Helping Others Find Jobs

Right now, I am a technical recruiter. The company that I work for is called UpRecruit. Most of the clients that we have are mid-to-senior level everything, developers, I mean, every single thing. I think that people have a lot more transferable skills than they realize, and so adding, whatever you’re adding, whatever tech stacks, I think that taking what you’ve done before and adding that with what you’re learning now, I want to help them find jobs that fit in that way.

Advice for Anyone Considering Kenzie

It’s going to be hard. There are late nights. There were many nights that we, as a group, stayed up all night long in group study sessions, going over algorithms, quizzing each other, making sure that everyone got their assignments turned in. As much as this is solitary, it’s also a group effort. You’re never actually working alone. You’re never actually alone. And once you figure out that the information isn’t just going to be given to you. You’re never going to learn how to code if you’re not coding. You can watch a million hours of tutorials. You can hear as many inspiring speeches as you want. If you don’t put the work in, you’re not going to get that reward. It’s going to show.

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

*This alum graduated from a previous, non-credit bearing, version of the software engineering program.

Read more about Ashley's Story!
"It was a positive experience. There were definitely some challenges, but I feel like we worked through them the best that we could. And if anything, those challenges taught us what real-life work would be like."
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