From Caseworker to UI Developer: How Katy Chadwell Landed Her Dream Role in Tech

After graduating from college, Katy Chadwell began working as an adoption caseworker for Child Protection Services. Over the next decade, she was tasked with finding suitable homes for children who were legally available for adoption. She explained, “It was a very emotionally stressful time for me, especially when I couldn’t find a proper home for a child who deserved it. I felt a lot of burden on my shoulders.” 

For several years, she felt uncertain about her career choice, wondering if she could truly feel fulfilled in the long term. But after her grandmother passed away in 2020, Katy was driven to make a real change for her happiness. 

“My grandmother was a lady who never settled. She was my main inspiration for considering [a] coding boot camp,” Katy said. 

Paving a new path 

Unknowingly, Katy had begun planting her coding roots when she helped develop a website in high school. But because she wasn’t aware that programming could lead to a promising career, she put her interest aside and pursued other industries instead. 

After her grandmother passed away, Katy revisited her passion for coding and realized that she didn’t want to live a life of regret, especially when it came to her career path. She longed to be in a field that was both intellectually challenging and rewarding — and she concluded that tech might be the perfect fit. 

An exciting learning journey 

Not long after making her big decision, Katy discovered a coding boot camp at her grandfather’s alma mater, Southern Methodist University.

“I applied for the program, unsure where it would take me,” she said. “I just knew that I’d be pushed, and that it wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it.” 

Before long, Katy was studying full stack web development in SMU Coding Boot Camp. Over the course of a few months, she learned a variety of languages that were compatible with complex front end and back end operations. From learning about JavaScript and Node to HTML and CSS, she was able to build a strong foundation of knowledge that would help her thrive in her new career. 

One assignment that she particularly enjoyed was creating a project management tool for DIY home projects. Using several of the languages that she learned throughout the boot camp, Katy collaborated with her team and developed a platform where users could actively keep track of their supplies and action items.

“I found that these projects really put our newly learned skills to work. We learned how to collaborate and communicate our own ideas, while also listening to other perspectives that might be different from ours,” Katy explained. “At the end of the day, the most important thing that aligned us was building a successful product that users would love.” 

Pursuing a new career

After completing the boot camp, Katy decided to take another leap of faith and applied for a tech job at JPMorgan Chase & Co. She passed an initial skills assessment, then participated in a hackathon with other applicants where she had to help develop an app relevant to an assigned topic.

“I can’t stress enough how helpful the boot camp projects were,” said Katy. “I was being evaluated on how well I could work with a team, and I felt that my boot camp experience really set me up for success.”

Katy was grateful that the interview not only focused on assessing her skill set, but also provided her with deeper insight into the actual role. She added, “It gave my employers a preview of my performance, as well — how I partnered with others in a coding environment, and how I was able to contribute meaningfully to a project.”

Several weeks later, Katy was offered a full-time UI developer role.

At JPMorgan, she now works alongside a full stack team, coding online investment products and creating other solutions for the company. Her future looks bright, as she hopes to continue advancing in her career, someday leading a team of her own.

When reflecting on her job change, Katy notes that coding has given her more fulfillment than she’s ever had before. While she used to feel uninspired and stuck, she now sees a path that leads to further growth and success. 

Ready to transition careers and find your dream role in tech? Check out SMU Boot Camps today.

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