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Student Stories: From Human Resources to Web Development

July 31, 2020

2 min read

Written by Sennah Yee

Justine Chiu graduated from Juno’s Web Development Immersive Bootcamp in Spring 2016. Today, she’s a web application developer at Loblaw Digital. Read about her inspiring journey into tech below!

Before Juno, Justine worked in human resources for 4 years. She spent her days onboarding new employees, assisting with employee culture initiatives, and executing employee wellness programs, performance management, and benefits administration.

Like many university grads, Justine thought that after getting a degree in human resources, a job in the same field was the "logical" next step.

“But I didn’t consider my satisfaction or wellness resulting from my job," she says. "The lack of joy and weakening interest was gnawing at me."

Justine found herself feeling less and less excited about future career opportunities within HR - she realized that it was time to make a change!

"I saw many Juno graduates becoming developers after Bootcamp, with such confidence and great portfolios," she says. "Seeing their transition helped me make the same decision. Having some self-taught coding background, it was a reasonable risk to take. Actively teaching myself was a good sign that I could tackle anything I set my mind to."

Student Stories

About Justine’s Journey

  • Previous Education

    Bachelor of Commerce, Business Management from Ryerson University

  • Before Juno

    Human Resources

  • After Juno

    Front-End Developer at TWG

  • Currently

Justine remembers being first interested in coding back in middle school while customizing online community web pages - but she didn't think of web development as a career option until much later.

Sure enough, her coding interest was sparked again when she took a free workshop with Canada Learning Code (also founded by Juno’s CEO and Founder Heather Payne). She was hooked! Justine decided to continue her journey into tech with Juno’s part-time Web Development course in winter 2016, where she learned the fundamentals of HTML and CSS, and implementing responsive designs. Later that spring, she applied to Juno’s full-time Web Development Immersive Bootcamp - and got accepted!

"While self-learning is critical to your every day and your future as a developer, I personally wanted structure and guidance of experienced and excited instructors,” Justine says. “Another factor I took when deciding to go with Juno was the need to be career-ready in a few months rather than the years-long programs limited by traditional institutions."

I enjoyed the collaborative, hands-on approach to learning that Juno emphasized. The interactive lessons did wonders to my long-term memory, and everything I learned was applied to my development job right away (and to this day)!

After 9 weeks of building websites, a portfolio to show them off, and lasting friendships, Justine graduated in spring 2016. Only one month after graduation, she landed her first job as a front-end developer at TWG, a software consultancy. She worked on customizing WordPress and Shopify themes for various organizations and high-performing online merchants. She also found that her HR background came in handy!

"I was ecstatic to join a team that could use my skills and accepted my unusual blend of HR and coding bootcamp experience," she says. "I was valued as a multi-faceted individual who had potential to learn and contribute. Receiving that job offer symbolized the end of linear career paths and the celebration of diverse backgrounds."

What Justine loves most about tech is its limitless possibilities, and the ability to bring change with only a few lines of code. "I love fighting for the user and using code to improve their experience while meeting the business’ goals," she says.

Today, Justine works as a developer improving the online grocery shopping experience at Loblaw Digital. She implements customer-facing site designs with code, customizes content management systems for internal clients, and collaborates with project managers to ensure deadlines are met. Justine also works with other developers to review code for bugs, meet accessibility requirements, and improve site performance.

When asked about a challenge she’s faced during her journey into tech, she talks about an unconscious bias that exists in all industries, and how to fight it:

"It manifests in subtle ways like not having my voice heard in meetings, negotiations, and even projects where we ought to be collaborative and inclusive," Justine says. "I’ll never fully overcome it, but I actively find ways to have my voice heard. Sometimes that’s through calling out things that people say that aren’t okay. Or sharing my experiences with a trusted sponsor who will help amplify my voice. And when I can, amplify the voices around me that could use a platform. It’s an ongoing challenge, but I know we are getting better at it."

Justine’s advice for those looking to start their own journey into tech?

Just start. Action creates results. Results give you data to guide you to improve. It also helps to have a positive attitude toward finding solutions, learning, and helping others.

She also advises applying "relentless devotion" to keeping your skills sharp and staying on top of the latest tech by:

  • trying new things
  • attending events
  • watching videos and streams of others coding

"Remember to be patient with yourself and that it’s alright to not know everything at first," she adds.

Wise words! The learning never stops - after completing Bootcamp, Justine went on to take Juno's part-time Full-Stack Masterclass, which rounded out her web development toolkit with back-end concepts.

As for inspirations in the tech community, Justine has many - but if she had to choose one to shout-out, she says it would have to be Julia Evans.

"She shares great advice on troubleshooting software and communication dilemmas with her zines, in addition to being an awesome software developer," Justine says. "My favourite zine of hers is Help! I have a manager! which inspired me to find new ways of seeking help and growing my career.

Speaking of growing her career - what’s next for Justine?

"In five years, I hope to still be doing what I’m doing as long as I’m enjoying it! I’d like to evolve into a team lead, people manager, or potentially make a lateral move into design," she says. "I’m open to anything and everything that helps teams build great stuff and support a positive culture."

Realizing it's time to make a change like Justine?

If you're finding yourself feeling stuck like how Justine felt in her previous career, a rewarding change into the booming tech industry may be for you. We're experts at helping people not only change careers, but change their lives. If you're looking to start your own journey into tech, but aren't sure where to start, we've got your back! Check out our free guide below:

Download Free Guide to Kickstarting Your Tech Career

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