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From Dentistry to Development: Making a Career Change After University Plans Fall Through

November 08, 2019

3 min read

Written by The Juno Team

Nova wanted to be a Dentist after graduating from university. But when that didn't work out, she found JavaScript at Juno as a way forward in her career.

Your career is often characterized as something you choose for life, where every rung you climb on the proverbial ladder makes it harder to get off.

But careers aren’t exactly ladders anymore. In fact, according to a survey by Statistics Canada 1 in 4 University graduates today change their career path after school. Many like Nova Quach, now a front-end developer at Loblaw Digital, went to University with a plan only to find that it didn’t pan out the way they expected.

Student Stories

About Nova’s Journey

  • Previous Education

    Graduated University of Toronto, Human Biology (HBSc)

  • Before Juno

    Financial Sales Rep at CIBC

  • After Juno

    Front-End Developer at Loblaw Digital

  • Currently

    Front-End Developer

    Loblaw Digital

When dentistry didn’t work out, Nova had to pivot

“The plan was to become a dentist,” Nova said about studying Human Biology at the University of Toronto. It made sense. She enjoyed science in high school, held a part-time job at a pharmacy for 7 years, and believed a science degree would give her a lot of options.

“I applied for dental school and didn't get accepted. I applied the year after and I still didn't get in. So I figured it was time to leave my pharmacy job and plan out my life.”

She found herself working as a teller at CIBC to pay the bills. And while she enjoyed the great benefits, interacting with customers every day, and was quickly promoted to Financial Sales Rep, she knew she didn’t want to do it forever. And so she spent her spare time laying the groundwork for a career change based on a highly sought-after skill in today’s job market: JavaScript.

Learning JavaScript: From free courses to bootcamp

JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. It’s used to build websites, create games, automate tasks, and so much more.

“I noticed a lot of job postings included JavaScript as an asset. I didn't even know what it was back then,” Nova recalled. “I ended up on a site called Free Code Camp and that's when I started my self-learning journey.”

For the better part of a year, Nova would research and practice coding when she wasn’t working. But like anyone who has gone the self-taught route will tell you, learning to code can be hard to navigate on your own.

Not only are there over 200 programming languages, but countless best practices and technologies to go with them. “I didn't know which one to hone in on. I found myself jumping all over the place. I started with JavaScript, and then did a full course on Python, but I wasn't really good at one thing.”

Nova realized if she wanted to actually kick start her career in coding, a formal education would serve her better. Not just for validation on her resume, but to get the job-ready skills a modern developer needs. That’s when she started looking into coding bootcamps and found Juno.

Finding a community in Juno’s Web Development Immersive Bootcamp

Nova almost went back to university to learn how to code. She went through the interview process and technical tests, and even got accepted, but ultimately decided to bow out. “They were really pushy and seemed like they only wanted my money,” she said.

Instead she applied for Juno’s Web Development Immersive Bootcamp.

Nova found Juno’s Bootcamp highly structured around outcomes—beyond the coding curriculum that was built around the actual technology and practices used by today’s startups, she also gained invaluable job search and career development skills.

She was told that it was a tight-knit community before she started, but found it to be even more supportive than she imagined.

“It’s a safe space. A no-judgment zone. The instructors didn’t believe in stupid questions, unlike in university where if you don't understand something, you sit there quietly and try to catch up by reading the textbook. At Juno, there was an instructor for every 10 students. It wasn’t about grades, it was about learning,”

“Once you’re part of the Juno community, it’s for life,” Nova said about her experience. At the bank, she had all these coworkers, connections, and resources that were just a Skype message away—until she resigned. “At Juno, there’s a Slack community of developers who are always willing to help. They don’t cut you off after you graduate.”

Featured project

During their time at Juno, Nova created Quick Scribble:

A sticky-note dashboard application created with React that lets you create to-do lists and set a primary goal for the day. It also uses Firebase and Google authentication, so users can save their notes.

Check it out!

Get in touch with Nova

Nova has launched her career in tech at Loblaw Digital

Shortly after graduating from Bootcamp, Nova landed a job at Loblaw Digital, which creates digital experiences for customers of Loblaw’s portfolio of brands.

She’s come to love the faster pace and flexibility of the tech industry. “There’s no micromanagement. They trust that you get your work done and there’s a lot of transparency and opportunities to share your thoughts, celebrate your wins and talk about your failures.”

Going from Juno to a full-time job as a Web Developer doesn’t mean Nova has all the answers, but she knows how to find them and is constantly learning every day. Coding has become her craft. “The other day I was stuck on an automation test for pretty much the whole morning. I got discouraged, but then I talked through the thought process with a Senior Dev and then it finally clicked. That totally made my day.”

Besides the people, Nova also enjoys the perks that come with her new job at Loblaw Digital. “We have different houses, like in Harry Potter, and throughout the year there are events that we can participate in to win points for our team. It's not like you just come in and sit at your desk, do you work and take off for the day. They do a lot to help you get to know your coworkers more.”

This is just the beginning for Nova’s career in coding and she has her eyes set on growing into a full stack developer. But in the meantime, she’ll continue honing the front-end development skills she gained at Juno.

Ready to make a career change like Nova did? Book a meeting with a member of our Student Success Team to get help crafting a unique learning journey to meet your goals.

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Find out more about our Bootcamp and why so many students choose to make a career change through Juno.

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