This is the story of how I went from Registered Nurse to Software Developer...
I figured since this is my first post, I should talk about my story and how I got here. My name is Amanda, and I used to be(well, technically still am according to my license) a Registered Nurse. I graduated nursing school in 2017, and worked as an RN until Fall of 2021.
Earlier in my nursing career, I spent my time working in hospitals. I worked on med-surg floors, but spent most of my time working as a Labor and Delivery/Postpartum nurse. I loved the work, it was incredibly rewarding. But as you could guess, when things were good on the L&D unit - they were good - and then things were bad on the L&D unit - they were REALLY bad. I'm talking, go home from your shift and cry yourself to sleep bad.
Taking that into consideration, and the difficulty I had managing the odd hours with being a mother, I ultimately decided to give up the nursing work that I loved and I transitioned into a clinical surgical sub-specialty role.
My clinic job was a huge dud. It was the worst job I ever had, the job was routine and not intellectually challenging in the slightest...not to mention the leadership was horrendous, too. This was the spring of 2021, and this job is what caused me to second guess my place in the nursing field. I knew I couldn't go back to working hospital hours, and I wasn't finding the clinic work to be enjoyable or financially great either. So, I began spending my time before bed in the evenings researching alternative options for a job. I spent WEEKS looking, applying to different jobs(none that I was all that excited about), and there was nothing. I didn't want to go into nurse leadership or nurse education, so my options were quite limited.
My husband and I talked about me potentially going back to school, but I knew that if I was going to invest more money into my education that it wouldn't be for anything nursing related. I'll never forget the night that triggered the events which led me to where I am today...
I was laying in bed looking on my phone, and I literally googled "career shift jobs for nurses but not nursing related" -- LOL -- up until that night all I could find was "Become a Nurse Leader" or "Get Your Masters to Teach Nursing" or programs for advancing to a DNP. About 8 or 9 google pages in, I came across a blog from a random woman, and it was titled "Why I left Nursing to be a Software Engineer"...okay, I'll admit, I was intrigued.
I clicked into her blog and read her post. In her post she described how she had the same type of nursing career fatigue that I was experiencing, and we both similarly no longer felt challenged or intellectually challenged. She went on to discuss how her husband was a software engineer and how he turned her on to coding bootcamps. Up until this post, I had no idea what a coding bootcamp was, or that they even existed. This woman wrote that she did a 10 week long coding bootcamp, with zero coding experience going into it, and after the 10 weeks was up it only took her 3 months to land a full-time software engineering job making over six figures. She also talked about how she loved her job, that it was the best decision she ever made and how it aligns so much with everything she felt she was missing in nursing.
The very next morning I started researching coding bootcamps. I came across an Intro to Python course with Hackbright Academy. They were running a special for the class, it was only $250 to sign up and it ran for 5 weeks with classes every Tuesday and Thursday night, and Saturday afternoons. I signed up thinking it was a good opportunity to get my feet wet and to find out if it was something I could potentially see myself doing in the future. Fast forward 5 weeks, and I loved it! I was hooked, and I knew it was what I wanted to do.
I applied for a 12 week full-time full-stack program with Hackbright Academy, and to my surprise I was accepted! The program I applied for was pretty competitive since it was sponsored by Target, meaning they paid for tuition and gave students connections/mentors and resources through the program. Fast-forward 12 weeks...I learned how to build a fully functioning web application and I was hired on to be an intern with Target Tech!
(UPDATE: I’ve since been hired as a full time Software Engineer with Target, starting in their emerging engineer program which kicks off in July 2022)
I still have a lot to learn, but I am really happy with the decisions I made and the opportunities I was presented with. I worked really hard and this career change required a lot of determination, but it was all worth it. I'm hoping that this blog post will reach someone who might be in the shoes I was in almost a year ago.
Until the next post,
Top comments (35)
Do you consider developing medical software and putting in use your background or you prefer staying away from that?
(Asking as someone who at one point worked for a company that developed software for an oncology hospital and honestly I'd like to stay away from that)
Honestly, I'm not entirely interested in getting back into the healthcare field, even if it is tech focused. I've found that it's incredibly difficult to be passionate about the work that I am doing if it is connected to healthcare. Not because I can't be passionate about the work, but because passion is often accompanied with the intent to do good(having morals and ethical standards). From my experience, the healthcare industry will always muffle a persons ability to remain passionate about their work because at the end of the day the healthcare industry is an interesting dichotomy. It's the two conflicting focuses of helping people and money...all healthcare organizations at the end of the day will(and as a business has to) choose money and business sustainability over, what is often, what's best for patients and their employee base. I've seen it time and time again, in multiple settings. Even if I were to take a technical role that was connected to healthcare, I know that those issues would find a way to trickle down and effect my ability to love the work that I am doing.
Those are just my opinions based off of my knowledge and experiences. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who feel very differently, but for me It'd be a no. Even though it's hard to imagine that I put SO MUCH time and effort into getting my nursing license, and now I'll likely never use it again, I'll still plan on staying away from anything healthcare related. Thanks for the question!
Excellent writing, thanks for sharing your story!
I pivoted into web development (had done a dozen things prior) after getting into a bootcamp as well. My first job took 3 months to secure (longest 3 months ever) and I got a low $48,000 salary (low for Manhattan). I worked it for 6 months and got a raise to $52,000. Then 3 months later got a raise to $58,000.
Almost a year and a half in, I left that company seeking a more healthy work environment and got a job earning $75,000. 6 months in I got a raise to $80,000.
Just over a year in, I left that company to join the group I’m with today earning $90,000 and I love my company. I’m basically getting paid to learn, have a great work-life balance and my team are incredibly supportive. As a bonus, I have a very good chance of getting a raise after 1 year (I’m 6 months in).
My point in sharing this is that not everyone gets a 6-figure job opportunity right out of bootcamp. I’ve known 1 who did but it doesn’t happen often. I worked hard, I studied a lot of documentation and books and kept asking for raises. When I felt like I’d hit the ceiling or needed a change of environ, I’d job hunt.
In the end, I prefer a better work environment with opportunities to grow over a 6 figure salary. I know I'll get there, it's just a matter of time. All that to say, I believe anyone can do well in dev space with persistence and ambition.
Thanks for sharing! I agree, getting the six figure salary straight out of bootcamp is definitely not the norm, especially for someone coming from a non CS background. I think for me, the interest for the pivot wasn't necessarily the idea that I could make that amount of money right out of the gate(because I knew that was the exception), but that it could give me to opportunity to hopefully make that much someday, all while doing something that I fed my intellectual needs and is something that I loved doing. With nursing I knew what my cap salary was going to be, I'd be lucky if I was pushing $80K/year after being in a role for 6+ years. The most senior nurses I worked with(being in the same role for 10+ years) capped out at $50/hr, and that's still working night shifts, odd hours, having call, and working weekends and holidays. That was something I knew I couldn't do, and I knew it'd muffle my ambition.
I agree that a good work environment trumps a six figure salary, any day. Hopefully someday we can both find ourselves in a role that offers both! Best of luck to you and thanks for the comment and the read!
That's amazing! Congratulations!
I guess, if you're diligent enough to get through med school, you're diligent enough to become really good in mere months? That's my best theory.
Love reading stories like these. Congrats on the job with Target!! Engineering changes so often it'll be like taking on a new career every few years. Enjoy the ride. Oh also never stop writing tests, they make you better.
Thank you for the comment and the advice! I've heard that testing teaches you a lot, so I definitely plan on implementing testing with the projects I am working on :)
Congratulations on your successes so far, it can't be easy to step off the cliff into this stuff. There will be anguish and frustration ahead, isn't there always, but at least you will have more control over the outcomes, the environments in which you work and the remuneration for it will probably end up better.
I'd also like to thank you for that part of your life you have put into nursing, you've already given a lot to your community through that and deserve much success from your new direction.
Thank you so much, it means a lot to get support from others. It definitely hasn't been easy, and I still have a ways to go, but I am so happy and I'm loving it. And yes, I look forward to having more control over the outcomes and environment that surround my career, it's a big difference from nursing, that's for sure.
Thanks again for the comment!
Thank you! Yeah, Hackbright works with a few different organizations for bootcamp sponsorships. I was really lucky to get into that program.
And yes, please do share with your students! I'm always available if anyone wants to connect for any questions or advice. Thanks again!
I went from being a Paramedic for 8years to transitioning to tech. I got my first job in November 2020, and my second job at Microsoft in Sepetember 2021, always exciting to see other healthcare workers make the transition!
Wow - Microsoft, that's amazing! Congrats to you too! Always cool hearing about other healthcare professionals making the transition into tech. It's so interesting how some of the skills cross over from healthcare to tech. Thanks for the comment!
Great story .
I wish you all the best.
I am a software engineer with a uni degree and i can tell you you can learn it all by yourself through books , courses and write code yourself.
You just need to be patient and consistent.
Best of luck
Thank you so much! Agreed, there are so many resources out there. What I learned in bootcamp was just a good base for the knowledge, I've definitely learned a ton more through self taught code and reading documentation.
On Wisconsin! Congrats! Enjoy the ride!
Loved reading about your story/ journey to tech. You, my friend, have truly preserved and it is paying off! Happy to be working along side you at Target. :)
Aw, Anusha <3
Congo Amanda! Love your story, what was the hardest part while transitioning from Nursing to software dev?
Thank you! Hmmm...the hardest part... that's a tough question. I'd say from a bootcamp standpoint it was just the pace of learning something that I had never laid my eyes on before. There were days where we would spend the morning doing a 1.5-2 hour lecture learning something totally new like React, and then have a lunch break, and then spend another 1.5-2 hours in the afternoon learning something totally different like AJAX or jQuery. It made it difficult to feel like the retention of knowledge was there.
Coming out of nursing school I felt really confident with myself and the knowledge that I had, so going into software dev feeling like I knew nothing was also a challenge(and still is at times). I was so used to knowing everything in my previous career, and that can often inflate the imposter syndrome feeling, but I know that will eventually fade with time...it's likely no different than how I felt on my first day on the job as a nurse.
Another thing I've noticed to be a learning curve is the pace of work. I was so used to being heavily task oriented as a nurse, and having that go-go-go work environment. It's been an adjustment for me coming into corporate tech because the pace is so much more laid back. It often leaves me feeling like I am not doing enough, even though I know I am, but that too will gradually change over time.
Thanks for the comment and the read!
haha, I guess it same for everyone regardlesss of the field they are in or were working in previously. You're absolutely right on the fast-paced learning point, you're always a beginner every other day in the software dev field. With so many frameworks/libraries to learn and experiment with it becomes overwhelming very quickly when you're not knowing where to go.
I seriously started learning in 2020, and because of the lockdowns got very consistent in following the schedule of the courses I was taking. Grasping one concept after the other, however, the real challenge is building stuff with what you learned.
Being from the medical field can give you benefits as well. Most of the cool projects I see are built by an amalgamation of contrasting skills, same for you. Maybe using a medical dataset to run AI models to predict things, etc. Data viz. is cool too. Tons of possibilities.
Good luck to you, share your devlog here, I'll follow. Stay connected.
Congrats! so nice to hear these stories. Keep at it! Do any course or program that ends up in something for your portfolio, no matter how small.
Thank you so much! Will do!
Good for you! I wrote my first program in 1975 and I still enjoy sitting down at the keyboard to do battle with problems nearly every day.
I agree with some others, though. Nursing will miss you.
Once a problem solver, always a problem solver.. am I right! Thanks for the read and comment!
That made me smile wide! I've heard similar stories about the medical field when Covid hit and I'm so glad that you found an alternative that you enjoy! Congratulations and I wish you success!
Thank you so much!
Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much!!