Alumni Stories
Man coding on computer working as software engineer

Zachary Kline

Turning a Layoff into a Tech Career

Software Engineering* '20
  • Job Title
    Software Engineering Facilitator
  • Employer After Graduation
    Capital One
Zachary's Story

Before enrolling in the Kenzie Academy program from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), Zachary Kline had a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. In fact, he had a job in nonprofit administration, where he worked in recruitment and placement. But in 2019, he lost his job. Zachary admits it was a point in life when “everything was going downhill.” But this was also an opportunity to make a change.

Why Choose Tech

Realistically it’s one of the best-paying areas, not that money is everything, but it gave me the ability to actually have some growth in my career. Because of the circumstances of losing my job, it was a commitment that I had to make.

Benefits of Earning a Tech Certificate

I feel like the condensed model really helped me because, in traditional 4-year colleges, there is a lot of studying around the topic. You obviously specialize in a topic, but there’s a lot of extra stuff.

[In my Kenzie Academy program] you are getting one thing and you’re focusing on it. You’re honing in and you’re learning these different skills. And realistically, here, I learned how to do the things that I’m supposed to do. So, learning what to Google when I am stuck on something or looking up alternative solutions to problems that I have.

The Supportive Community

For me, the first line of defense was obviously the other people in my cohort. I was constantly working with everybody else to help me understand and solve problems. And I was assisting other people who were having problems that I had already solved — like giving them an idea of how this works and why. But we also have facilitators I would constantly ask questions to, both about my assignments and for other technical reasons. And of course, we have the senior engineers that are on staff, like the SMEs.

Building Connections for Opportunities

The amount that you actually utilize the Kenzie Family is going to be based on how much you actually want to utilize it. It will really depend on the person. If you make those connections and you utilize those connections, you can definitely make everything work. You can create your own pathway into the industry.  I was lucky that I was approached by an outside company, Capital One, to actually take over their corporate onboarding. But everyone that I know, a lot of them utilize their contacts. They utilize their network to build a way for them to actually get into the industry.

The “It Clicked!” Moment

I had nights where I was so frustrated and so despondent about like, “Oh, I’m never going to get this,” and then two days later or something like that, I would have that breakthrough moment where I’m like, “I finally understand how this works.” And everyone has their own aha moment when they’re actually learning coding.

For me, it was about six months in. I kind of understood [the class content] but I didn’t fully understand it. And then one day, I was just sitting down and it finally clicked with me. It was, “I finally understand this and because I understand this, I understand all these other things.” And it felt so amazing that all of a sudden I was shaking with how excited I was. It was an amazing thing.

Diversity in Tech

I feel like the mission statement of increasing or giving a voice to people who normally don’t have a voice in this industry honestly really helps. Because tech is one of those unique areas where everyone can truly shine in their own way. And increasing the diversity, increasing the actual composition, and listening to everyone’s voices gives us more dynamic solutions to all of our problems.

Advice for Anyone Considering Kenzie Academy

Before you jump into anything, make sure that you’re ready to actually commit to it. You don’t want to get into something and then just realize that it was fun on a whim, but it’s not really for you. At the same time, if you actually are into it, if you [enroll in a Kenzie Academy program] and you give it your all, you can make it work. You can do it.

Looking Back

I like to consider myself a Kenzie success story. Building this community, building all these new skills, building all these new values and contacts that I got, it honestly changed my life. Kenzie really did everything it needed to do for me, and I appreciate that.

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.

"Building this community, building all these new skills, building all these new values and contacts that I got, it honestly changed my life."
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