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Alumni Spotlight: April Rivera

10/03/2018

Learn how this Zip Code Wilmington alumna gained confidence through coding.

April Rivera graduated from Zip Code Wilmington in April 2018. Within two months she made a seamless transition to her new position as a software engineer at JPMorgan Chase.

“I spoke to my friend a few weeks ago about how much your life can change in a few months,” explains Rivera. “Last year everything in my life was so different because I loved my team, but I knew I outgrew my position. But I love the pace of my new job, the problem solving and just knowing that the things I create will make an immediate impact on the business, it feels satisfying.”

Although she loves how things have changed in the last year, it’s not lost on Rivera that she gained more than coding skills throughout her Zip Code Wilmington boot camp experience.

Rivera reflects, “Thinking over the last year, I’ve done so much that I never thought I could.”

It’s the newfound confidence that has allowed Rivera to build her knowledge but change her world in many ways.

Before she entered the program, Rivera knew a lot about the boot camp process because she had a front row seat to watch her boyfriend, Eugene completed the program the previous year. Rivera knew to expect long nights, early mornings and many hours in front of the computer.

“He would come home and talk to me in what seemed like a different language,” laughs Rivera. “I never completely understood what he was talking about but his passion struck me.”

Eugene saw that Rivera was feeling stagnant in her management position at Warby Parker in Philadelphia. He encouraged her to also apply to Zip Code because she had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“Being a manager takes a toll on you,” says Rivera. “I had been focused for so long about the performance and growth of others that I started to feel left behind with my own growth and I wanted to get back to that.”

Rivera admits that she let self-doubt be the reason she almost didn’t apply to Zip Code Wilmington.

“I never saw myself contributing to technology because when you see it in the movies, it seems so unattainable,” says Rivera. “I think about scenes in the Matrix where people are hacking into systems in less than 30 seconds and doing all of this crazy stuff, and I was overwhelmed.”

She never believed that she would pass the HackerRank test. But she did.

She never believed she would pass the interviews. But she did.

She never believed she would be able to keep up with her classmates. But she did.

“I was so hard on myself,” says Rivera. “There were many times that I wanted to give up because I didn’t know if I was as good as the others, or if I could finish the projects but I had a great support system around me that helped me through,” says Rivera.

Not only her boyfriend, Eugene, but the Zip Code staff, faculty and alumni became a core force of encouragement for Rivera.

“I would second-guess my solutions, but when I’d ask for help the instructors would lead me to discover my own answers,” says Rivera. “Everyone let me know that I had the ability to problem solve and be successful in this field.”

Today, Rivera is doing just that – being successful in the field. She is helping to develop a dashboard for JP Morgan Chase users that uses a new language and framework than what she learned in Zip Code.

She also has re-enrolled into college at the Community College of Philadelphia in a joint program with Temple University. Rivera plans to continue her education to realize her ultimate dream of being a marine biologist.

“I plan to use my technology background and coding skills to work as a biologist learn to track whales and learn their communication and migration patterns,” says Rivera.

Rivera is giving back to future developers by serving as a mentor in Zip Code’s pre-course prep program – many of which in the premier class were women.

“It’s well known that women are underrepresented in tech so I love that Zip Code hosts a Women in Tech networking event, mentors and supports women trying to break into the field,” says Rivera. “As a Puerto Rican woman, I haven’t seen many people who look like me in tech but Zip Code is helping change that.

From retail, to coding, to working, to school, Rivera is proud of her mounting accomplishments.

“I learned so much in my Zip Code experience that I can apply throughout life,” says Rivera. “I’m building confidence in a way I’ve never experience. I know that I can I go into anything problem and figure things out in the end.”

 

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