Alumni Spotlight: Mary-Kaitlin (MK) Warren

From being an Assistant Manager at Entreprise Rent-A-Car to becoming a stellar programmer, MK shares her path that led her to where she is now—a student in the Microsoft LEAP program.

Can you describe your career story and how you got to where you are right now?

Random. My senior year of high school, I started watching Bones and first heard of Anthropology. So I majored in Anthropology. I also majored in German, because I wanted a back up plan in case I decided not to go to grad school for Anthropology, and everybody knows that companies are fighting over German majors. The spring semester of my senior year, I had no plan and my family told me that I needed to get a job, so I hit up Monster and applied to Enterprise’s Management Training program. Randomly, I got the job. After 2 years I decided I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. I got on Monster (I should send them a card) and randomly found Codeup. I think it was an ad? Pretty sure I didn’t know what a bootcamp was at the time. After that, it gets less random and more Codeup driven. My first job after Codeup was with a company that had come to my Demo Day. The job after that was with a company that came to do onsite interviews at Codeup. I found out about my current opportunity through Codeup as well. So… three cheers (or jobs) for Codeup!

How do you think your past has brought you here to Codeup?

I had taken a computer science class in high school and done well. When I was looking to transition out of the customer service/sales realm, I knew that I wanted a set of hard skills, and luckily Codeup offered a place to grow those.

There are a lot of options out there for learning to code. Why Codeup? 

I thought about trying to do something online, like CodeAcademy, but I ended up going with Codeup because of the connections. Where as DIYing your coding education is possible, it’s hard to get your resume through the door if you have no professional experience. Codeup helped make initial connections that have propelled me into the career that I want. Also, I am terrible at making myself watch videos online.

What got you hooked on programming or the idea of moving into the tech space?

I am drawn to programming because there is an answer. If your code doesn’t compile, there is a reason (and probably a silly one at that). It was a nice change of pace coming from a liberal arts background, where things are a little less black and white.

What are some things you like about Codeup? 

Definitely the snacks.

What would you change/want to see us do differently?

It’s hard for a coding school to do this, because it is a business, but a little more clarity upfront about the types of positions to expect (especially in a market like San Antonio), would have been nice. Part of the reason why I decided to do Codeup was the claim that graduates made 15k more afterwards, and so I took out the loan for 15k with the idea that I could pay it back in less than a year. A month in, I realized that the average graduate salary was about 15k less than I was making, so that was a little disappointing and cause some numbers shuffling. Again, I know that’s kind of a hard thing to change, but it’s the only suggestion that I have. Everything else was pretty good.

What are your plans after Codeup, both in the immediate and long term?

Well, speaking in hindsight, short term was to get paid to program and get some experience on my resume. Long term is to move into a tech arch role, change the world with some awesome software and/or hardware, and become Tony Stark.

A lot of people don’t think of SA as being a vibrant city for Society of Women Engineers (SWE). What have you seen in terms of the city, people, events, etc. that contradict this idea? 

We’re on the comeup.
 I would say that San Antonio has a lot of companies that have very robust SWE communities that exist outside of the Downtown/Houston street epicenter. I think that because of the geography of San Antonio (read: sprawl), it is harder to see than a place like Austin or Seattle.

What are some of the things minorities, disenfranchised and marginalized groups need to know about the support, or lack thereof, within Codeup?

Codeup is there to support you. Practically speaking, their success is your success. Aside from that, everyone there is super supportive and just generally nice. If you aren’t understanding a topic, the instructors are willing to help and walk you through it (even on their lunch break. WOW!!!).

What would you say to these groups of people who are on the fence about joining a bootcamp due to lack of diversity, inclusivity, and overall fear of not having the support that they would need?

This is a bit tricky. I would say that first and foremost, know you’re own truth. Software isn’t for everyone, so have that moment of honesty where you decide if you are doing this because you like the idea of programming every day, or because you like the idea of a 6 figure salary in 4 months and working from home everyday (spoiler alert: highly unlikely for your first, or dare I say, second programming job). If you are passionate about building software for the rest of your life, I honestly believe that Codeup is the best place to start that journey. The community is incredible; the instructors are amazeballs; the staff is incredibly supportive; and the founders are boss *** hustlers. It truly is the best place to start your development journey in San Antonio. (P.S. if you are from out of town, forget Codeup. Come to San Antonio for the breakfast tacos, and stay for Codeup.)

How’d you find out about the LEAP program and what are some of the reasons for wanting to participate?

Dylan sent out an email with some information about the program, and it seemed like an awesome opportunity. If you don’t major in CS, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to “intern” for the Microsofts/Googles/Facebooks of the world. LEAP is awesome, because it gives you that same foot in the door that an internship gives, even if you didn’t go the traditional Computer Science route. (Also: Seattle weather, multitude of hiking trails, coffee).

LEAP is an incredible opportunity! What are you planning on doing after completing the program?

Keep learning. Become Tony Stark.

Anything else you would like to talk about regarding the Career Services and Development through Codeup?

c:\myPath. In other words, Codeup’s Career Services and Development has gotten me 3/3 gigs. That goes to show that just because you get your first job, doesn’t mean that you are out of the family.