Though we certainly don’t mean to brag, here at Climb we have some pretty talented and dedicated people coming into work at our office every day. How talented and dedicated, you ask? Well, we’d like to introduce you to Thea — an exceptional co-worker who, while managing the Operations team, spent her nights in class at General Assembly learning to code!
Originally from Two Rivers, Wisconsin (near Lake Michigan), Thea first moved to New York to pursue a graduate degree in philosophy. But a combination of realizing it wasn’t the path for her and sheer practicality, she went a different way and started work as an executive assistant, and then as a practice assistant at a law firm. It was through this second job she met then–Climb CEO Zander Rafael — one of the attorneys she worked for, knowing she long had an interest in coding and that Climb partnered with a lot of coding bootcamps, made the introduction. At the time, there were only seven employees, and Thea came in to make eight.
She came to Climb on the Operations side; at the time, she was one of two people doing this process. But in this position she was able to make use of her previous experience in office management and customer service, working on developing procedures, data record-keeping, applications, and vetting the overall structure, while getting an up-close look at not only coding but at the schools many people attended in order to learn it.
Eventually, she started working with Climb’s CTO, Chris Shaffer, on engineering projects; he knew early on of her desire to learn code and “really took that to heart,” setting projects aside for her as early training. Taking the next steps, she then enrolled in a night class on front-end web development at General Assembly (GA). For ten weeks she spent two nights a week after work, plus some Saturdays, at GA learning to code.
And how was Thea’s experience at GA? To use her words, she was “blown away by the absolute expertise and knowledge, but also dedication and energy that the instructional team had.” She was surrounded by diverse classmates who were supportive, dedicating to learning, and unafraid of venturing an incorrect answer. For Thea, that last bit was an important characteristic of the learning environment; they would “think through things together, and a big part of that is being wrong. If the only things that we’d ever come up with were right, we wouldn’t really be learning because we already would’ve known it … and then it also wouldn’t really serve much to get in the practice of how to approach getting out of being stuck or being wrong.” And they were led by instructors who were not only knowledgeable but who went the extra mile to make sure their knowledge was imparted individually on each of their students with “infinite patience.”
Now, after graduating, she has continued support in the form of resources provided by the faculty and the contact she’s maintained with her classmates, even having a planned ”Queens coding meetup.” And she’s fully transitioned over to the engineering team, using her past experience in Operations to work as a “liaison between the two different realms.” All of these experiences have added up to give her a unique perspective at Climb: someone who knows both the loan process and the engineering process, and what it’s like to be both loan provider and coding bootcamp student.
So what advice does Thea have with regards to these different areas? For those about to attend a coding bootcamp, she recommends showing up to info sessions and visiting campuses and instructors beforehand, if you can. “Even more than curriculum,” she says, “the way that your class goes is going to be defined by who the instructors are and also who your classmates are … if there’s an info session, show up for it, get in there, get involved.”
And any advice for those about to take out student loans? “Look at the monthly payments,” and “really do your best to determine how that’s going to affect your finances.” Work it into your budget now, rather than later, and only borrow what you really need; do your best to make sure you’ve got a safety net in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
Thank you so much to Thea for sitting down allowing us to profile you; best of luck in your new position (you’re already doing great), and best of luck to all our readers about to apply for a loan or head to school!