Q&A with Paola Maldonado, iOS Developer at BuzzFeed
1. Looks like you’ve got a really fun job – building the iOS apps for BuzzFeed, a top end company with top end investors. How’s the journey been so far?
Yes! I could not imagine a more exciting company to be working with right now than BuzzFeed. The journey to here has meant a lot of hard work, but I’ve worked on some really fun applications with some great people, so which has certainly made the journey more enjoyable.
2. What was your major in college? When did you realize that a software engineering career may be appropriate for you?
I actually did some programming in high school. I went to Brooklyn Tech, where I majored in CS. In college, however, I went a completely different direction and majored in English because of my love of literature and writing. It was writing, specifically starting a blog, that re-sparked my interest in programming. I briefly considered pursuing web development, but after being introduced to iOS development, I became passionate about and decided to focus on mobile.
3. Why did you choose an iOS bootcamp?
Well, at the time, as much as I wanted to be working in a mobile development role, I did not yet feel confident about my skills. There were specific areas where I wanted to get stronger, and I thought a bootcamp would be a great way for me to focus on gaining those skills and experience.
4. How much of a role did TurnToTech play in you in preparing you for your role in your current job?
Turn To Tech played a big role in preparing me for a professional developer role. I learned a lot during the six weeks of course work, but I gained confidence during the internship. Working on a full app from the very beginning helped me to understand mobile applications more fully in depth. I became a much stronger developer through the experience.
5. What made you choose TurnToTech? Did you research other places?
Turn To Tech was affordable and included an internship, which were definitely important in making my decision. But for me, having had some experience with iOS already, what solidified my decision was the fact that the course was project based and included all the fundamentals of iOS programming, as well as the fact that I could work independently and at my own pace.
6. How was a typical day at the bootcamp? Were you burned out at any point? Or were you always energetic, ready to move on to the next challenge?
A typical day was spent focused on a specific project, small enough to give me a sense of accomplishment once completed, but also preparing me for the next project, which would be larger and more complex. I never felt burnt out. I think the syllabus was well designed and is very effective.
7. How about your confidence level as a software engineer? How would you compare where you were before starting the program to where you are now?
There is definitely a noticeable difference in my confidence since starting the program. Not only do I have knowledge of and experience with all the fundamentals of iOS, I also feel confident that I can pick up anything I don’t yet know.
8. What would you say about your cohort? Did you guys interact a lot or did most people mostly keep to themselves?
I started mid June, and I believe I was the only one to start at that time, but there were several students a couple of weeks ahead of me. I mostly worked independently, but I did interact with the other students, especially when I had questions about some of the projects. It was a productive but fun learning environment.
9. How was your internship experience? What did you work on? Did that help during the interviews?
I worked on an anonymous polling app. I came on during the planning phase, which was really helpful to me in understanding the architecture of the app. It was helpful during interviews to be able to discuss my experience working on this app, especially the specific features I spent a lot of time on and know well.
10. What are your future plans?
Right now, I’m just really excited to have landed a great job. I’m focused on mastering iOS, including learning Swift and working on some of the new iOS 8 features. If possible, I’d also like to pick up a backend language, perhaps Python. I definitely want to stick with mobile development, so if the opportunity came up to learn some Android, I’d be interested.
11. Anything else you’d like to add for someone considering TurnToTech, especially to those why don’t come from a science or engineering background?
I would highly suggest to take your time learning programming fundamentals, whether in C or another object oriented language. This is essential. It is absolutely doable to learn iOS development without having a CS background, but you’ll only get out of the course what you put into it. The course is self-driven, so be prepared to focus your time and energy on learning this skill, and it will surely pay off.