Alumni Stories

From Massage Therapist to Software Engineer

janell huyck

“My name is Janell Huyck. I used to be a massage therapist. Now I’m a Software Engineer.”

Janell Huyck was happily employed as a massage therapist but a work injury left her unable to stay in the field. Knowing she needed to find a position that relied more on the mind than the body, Janell decided to look into tech. Her research into the tech industry led her to Kenzie Academy. 

“I looked at several different online bootcamps but didn’t find any that I felt would really prepare me for getting a job as a programmer,” Janell said. “I knew that after investing a year in training me, (Kenzie) would have some serious skin in the game to make sure I was ready to move into a successful career. And it worked out exactly as I’d hoped!”

She chose the Software Engineering program and greatly enjoyed the challenge it provided her.  

“My dad had been a programmer for IBM many years ago, and I guess part of me always wanted to follow in those footsteps,” Janell said. “I really enjoy puzzles and problem solving, and the back end half of the program really focused on that.”

Now, Janell is taking the programming skills she learned into her first tech role as a Junior Software Engineer with e-commerce platform Teespring

“The senior developers who interviewed me said that the quality of my code is excellent for a junior developer and they were very impressed when they were interviewing me,” Janell said. “Since I didn’t know any programming before starting the program, it’s completely fair to say that my coding skills came 100% from my time at Kenzie.”

In this position, her responsibilities include maintaining, improving, and updating the software that runs the manufacturing side of the company. Her direct customers are the employees developing Teesping’s many products.

“My work will make their days easier and Teespring’s production more reliable and cost-efficient,” Janell said. “For example, this week I got to help with creating a new feature to scale images before printing them. [I also helped fix] a bug in some software that was causing some items to not be processed properly when their barcodes were scanned.”

Janell felt well prepared to advance in her new role after completing Kenzie’s Software Engineering program. 

“The breadth and depth of topics we worked with at Kenzie have mirrored what I need to use on an almost daily basis as a Junior Software Engineer,” Janell said. “For example, I’m using Object-Oriented Programming, Test Driven Development, and all the bug-hunting strategies I developed during my year at Kenzie. I’m writing code in Python, which is an excellent back-end language that Kenzie gave me training with.”

Outside of her new role, Janell is involved with Kenzie’s chess club, a group made up of learners, alumni, and staff. 

“Though I’m among the weakest of the club’s players, I have never been made to feel bad for making mistakes or causing my team to lose a game,” Janell said. “I have been treated with the same respect and kindness that has been present throughout my Kenzie experience. There’s just something special about the atmosphere here that allows people to really grow and flourish.”

Reflecting back on her time in the Software Engineering program, Janell thinks of not just the professional skills she gained but also the personal growth. 

“I am not the same person I was before entering Kenzie,” Janell said. “I am more resilient, more self-confident, and more willing to enter into new situations. It no longer troubles me when I don’t get the result I want the first time. I don’t have to be perfect anymore; I just have to keep trying.”

For anyone interested in becoming a Software Engineer, Janell shared this piece of advice: 

“This is about way more than just learning a few skills to get a better job,” Janell said. “This is about changing your habits, the way you interact with others, and really how you view yourself and the world. Be prepared for a lot of work. You’ll come face to face with most of your faults during this year. It’s exhausting. It’s terrifying. It’s relentless. It’s frequently overwhelming. And… it’s worth it.” 

Ready to jumpstart your career as a UX Designer or Coder? Learn more about our Software Engineering and UX Design programs, or check out our free beginner’s coding program Kenzie Free.

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