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Finding Your Passion, People, and Purpose: A Juno Bootcamp Alum's Journey Into Tech

August 27, 2020

3 min read

Written by Sennah Yee

Annie Liew graduated from Juno’s Web Development Immersive Bootcamp in Summer 2019, and today she works as a Front-End Developer. But believe it or not, she didn’t start out loving web development. In fact, it was quite the opposite! Read all about how she made her big career pivot into tech:

Annie has always delighted in the process of creation. As a child, she spent lots of time making visual art and creating stories, and later studied Multimedia Design at university. While she was familiar with using Lingo, the Macromedia Director scripting language that allows you to build interactive multimedia experiences, she didn’t consider herself a fan of coding.

“I remembered my first introduction to HTML/CSS as very confusing. Whenever I had to do ‘web coding stuff’ for work, I saw it as a necessary evil,” she says. “I never would have imagined that a logical computer science-based career would be for someone like me: right-brain inclined and not great at maths.”

Annie is no stranger to career changes - in fact, she recently made a now-viral tweet that lists some of her previous jobs she's had before she became a developer, including:

• Server

• Cashier

• 3D Special Effects Artist

• Signal-Theft Investigator

• Private Tutor

• And more!

After working as a successful designer in Australia and England, Annie decided teach English in Japan, where she wanted to live. After 6 years in Osaka, it was time for another change.

“I thought it would be easy to work as a freelance designer in the creative city of Toronto,” Annie says.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Annie had no contacts, and realized that her design knowledge was out of date. She found herself in a tough spot, underemployed and juggling three different jobs on days, nights, and weekends.

“I’m driven by a need to do meaningful and creative work. The jobs I was doing before here in Toronto were not fulfilling this need.”

Annie finally accepted that what she was doing wasn’t working - in her own words, “something had to change.”

So, Annie started researching other options - and along came Juno, then known as HackerYou!

“The world of bootcamps as an alternative and viable education opened up to me. Even though I was more drawn to UX (user experience), the culture, inclusiveness, and strong alumni of Juno drew me to give web development a proper go.”

Student Stories

About Annie’s Journey

  • Before Juno

    Designer

  • After Juno

    Front End Developer, Trew Knowledge

  • Currently

    Front End Developer

    Trew Knowledge

Before investing in Juno’s Web Development Immersive Bootcamp, Annie decided to take Juno's part-time Web Development course to be absolutely sure it was something she wanted to do.

“I remember there was a precise moment late one night when I was troubleshooting a button transition and it worked! It was in the resulting endorphin high I experienced that I realized, I really can do this!”

Soon enough, Annie submitted an application to Juno’s Bootcamp, and was accepted!

Juno’s clear curriculum and deadlines helped Annie stay motivated and on target with her goals. She found herself inspired by the passionate community of students in her cohort who were also there to make a career change, and the first-hand advice from Juno's instructors who worked in the industry. Annie felt “a collective sense of purpose, camaraderie and journey” with her cohort.

At the end of the day, our lives are a collection of experiences. This nine-week chapter of immersive education at Juno is one that I really value. Beyond the intellectual stimulation of learning, it was the people I met and the connections I’ve built that mean the most about my time there.

Annie graduated in Summer 2019 with new friends, new skills, and a new sense of purpose. Only two weeks after graduation, she landed her first job as a Front-End Developer at Trew Knowledge, a WordPress VIP Agency in Toronto. Annie works on building the front-end architecture of new websites, debugging existing projects, and implementing new micro-sites or products within the brand. She also gives presentations to clients, communicating any blockages or suggestions for improvements with her team, and advocates for accessibility and culture in the company.

What does Annie love about working in tech? To start, it has given her peace of mind, financially - no more worrying about living paycheck to paycheck! Tech has also given a great sense of meaning to her work, and a feeling of community through events, conferences, and the general culture of continuous learning and growth.

"I feel I use the word “impact” and “meaningful” a lot, but that’s because it really describes how I feel," she says. "A job is a job at the end of the day. It’s not your whole life but you spend so many hours on/at it, so with that time, why not use it to contribute something good at some scale?"

Technology touches almost all other industries and verticals. It’s amazing to say that you’re helping to build the internet or shaping the future in this area somehow.

"I think the thing that inspires me is really knowing that what you’re working on can have a meaningful impact on people," she continues. "Maybe the feature you work on helps better the user experience for those with disabilities. Maybe the website you build allows a small business owner to feed their family or keeps people in employment. Or the product is one that adds some other value to the world."

Annie also adds that her digital skills helps her feel a little more secure in a world where technology can be hard to understand. As for some challenges that Annie faced during her journey into tech, she brings up some very relatable points - and some helpful reminders to those who may feel similarly:

“I feel like some of the biggest challenges you’ll face are always in your own head. Imposter syndrome was, and still is, very real for me. It's helpful to know that almost everyone goes through this. Even though I might feel this way, someone believed in and hired me. If I look at the evidence of work I’ve done, well, I guess I can call myself a developer.”

Annie’s advice for those looking to get into tech is honest, wise, and passionate:

“Honestly I got into it because of a financial need. And I want to normalize this and say that, ‘THIS IS OKAY.’ Even if it was something you tried and hated before (like me), you might be a different person now at a different place in life. It's always worth giving things a second go; it might resonate better."

Annie brings up ikigai, a Japanese word for your reason for being and your purpose in life. It is the intersection of four things:

  1. What the world needs
  2. What you’re good at
  3. What you love
  4. What you can be paid for

“I thought about this a lot when I was thinking about my pivot into tech,” Annie says. “There is no doubt that tech is something the world needs, and you can be paid very well for it. While I wasn’t good at the beginning, nor did I love it, I believe passion can be cultivated with experience, and there are many niches in tech where you can find your ikigai.”

What’s next for Annie?

“I don’t have a five year plan,” Annie says. “Life and technology changes so fast that I can’t plan everything out that far in advance! Instead, I have a clear direction I want to go towards. I have goals around the technologies I need to get better at, that will help me to do the kind of fulfilling work I want. And I know my overarching motivation: the opportunity to work on purposeful, worthwhile products. With these in place as a bit of a guiding north star, I like to leave myself open to opportunities as they come up.”

Attending Juno was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Juno gave me more than just my first job in tech as a developer. I also gained a family, a community, and a future I’m really excited about!


Ready to make a career change like Annie?

Our Web Development Immersive Bootcamp is designed not only to educate, but empower. No matter where you are in life, it's never too late to make a change and find a career that you love. If you're looking to start your own journey into tech, but aren't sure how, we've got your back. Check out our free guide below:

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