December 05, 2017 - by Tori Tsu

From Product Manager to Software Engineer: Meet Hackbright Alumna Rachel Traina-Grandon

"Though it can be rocky at first, it's reassuring to know that many people have been in your shoes before and come out on the other side stronger," says Hackbright Software Engineering Program alumna, Rachel Traina-Grandon. Now working as a full stack engineer at HITactics, Inc., a data analytics start-up, Rachel began her career in the e-commerce and music industries, and found that she desired to make the products, rather than ideate them. Here's her story of how attending Hackbright was the best decision of her career.

What was your background prior to Hackbright?

I graduated with a BA in Political Philosophy, but post-graduation I derailed that path to pursue my love for technology. Prior to Hackbright, I worked as Webmaster, Product Manager, and Business Analyst in the e-commerce and music industries. In these roles, I realized that I was more interested in actually making the products than ideating them, so I began taking coding classes as first steps. After a few frustrating months of self-learning and juggling work and study, I enrolled in Hackbright's Full-Time Software Engineering Program and never looked back. It was the best decision I have ever made for myself.

What was the process like from application to graduation?

My experiences before, during, and after the program have all been extremely positive. I skeptically attended an info session when I was initially considering the program and, looking back, that session was when I first felt at home at Hackbright. After promptly submitting my application following the session, I was invited to interview with admissions and was later accepted.

At first, I was not sure how the learning experience would differ in a cohort of all women students. After the first few days of class, it was clear that Hackbright created a safe, supportive learning environment for us to grow, where ego was unnecessary and there was a shared goal of transformation. Since the industry that most students are hoping to enter is typically considered a "boy's club," it is empowering to learn alongside other women to gain insights and strength before jumping into a new, sometimes scary, workplace.

How has your life changed since Hackbright?

Attending the Software Engineering Program and taking the chance on myself were the best decisions of my career. While there are many ways to learn how to code, Hackbright offered me invaluable lessons in how to learn new technologies, approach problems, and explain myself technically that I could not have found elsewhere. Since graduating, I have been able to use these skills to teach myself more programming languages, as well as teach others how to code and think critically.

What is your advice to women who are considering a career change or bootcamp?

For women who are considering taking this leap: I encourage you to do your research and try to meet with Hackbright alumnae or others who have gone through career transitions. Since trying something new can be scary and costly, it can boost your confidence and comfort to hear how others' lives have benefited from investing time into themselves. Though it can be a rocky journey at first, it is reassuring to know that many people have been in your shoes and come out on the other side stronger than before.

Interested in learning more? Check out our upcoming Hackbright Prep course in San Francisco and our 12-week full-time or 24-week part-time Software Engineering Programs. Hackbright Academy offers a deferred tuition program to select, eligible students. 


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