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Codesmith Career Change: From OR Nursing to Software Engineering

Codesmith programs help people launch or grow in meaningful tech careers. Residents in Codesmith’s Software Engineering Immersive programs come from a variety of professional backgrounds – junior developers, teachers, realtors, and more.

Recent Codesmith alum Kelsey shares how she transitioned from nursing to software engineering. Written during the junior portion of her Codesmith Immersive, learn how and why Kelsey started her coding journey and what she learned after only 6 weeks in the program.

Prior to Codesmith and my current unemployment, I spent the last nine years working as a travel operating room nurse. It was an amazing career at the time and opened up a lot of opportunities for me. As a travel nurse, I had the opportunity to live and work in Arizona, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. I got to work at nine different hospitals, learn all kinds of surgical specialties, and take part in many amazing procedures with some of the most hard working people on the planet. In addition, while living in these different states, I could use my time off to explore nearby areas and go climbing, backpacking, and exploring all over the west coast. And, prior to the pandemic, I was able to spend time between contracts traveling to over 30 countries – which, for a small-town Ohio girl who grew up on welfare, was a pretty eye opening and life changing experience. 

Unfortunately, nursing has changed a lot over the last few years and especially during the pandemic. My coworkers and I became overworked, under appreciated, and stretched so thin that we feared for patient safety. Morale in the hospital as a workplace has been at an all time low and the staffing shortages and treatment of nurses is leading to nurses leaving the field in record numbers. I am one of them. 

Image of Kelsey Graner during her time as a nurse, wearing PPE

Kelsey at work as a nurse.

Nursing has a lot of benefits, but it also left me really wanting. I desired a career where I could work remote or from home, and where I didn’t have to work 12-13 hour shifts. I also wanted a career where I could have time to work independently and have more autonomy. And finally, I wanted something new that would allow me to be challenged and grow through problem solving in ways I hadn’t felt over the past few years in nursing.

When I heard about coding bootcamps two years ago, they sounded really amazing but I didn’t think they were for people like me. Plus, what did I know about computer programming? I could hardly work the TV in my living room. However, after trying a Udemy course and some free resources, I realized that I absolutely loved coding and was instantly hooked. It took me over a year to make the decision to fully leave nursing and commit to this career change one hundred percent, but let me tell you, it was the right decision.

Image of Kelsey Graner's work from home desk set-up.

Kelsey's work from home desk set-up.

I am currently halfway through my Codesmith immersive program, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. It is, for sure, one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but also very rewarding in so many ways. My cohort is full of the most fun, hilarious, supportive, and intelligent individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Getting to work with them through various units, projects, and now our open source product, I know that I couldn’t have asked for better peers to have by my side. Coming into Codesmith only knowing basic HTML, CSS, and Javascript, I am shocked that only a few weeks later I know all about creating full-stack applications and how to work with so many different technologies such as Node, Express, MongoDB, React, and Redux. I can solve JavaScript problems and create data structures that, a few months ago, I never thought I would understand. Also, it’s really cool that I’ve been able to build three fully functioning applications that include a houseplant manager tool, a job application tracker, and a poll making app.

Where to next? Well, the senior portion is just kicking off and I am paired with the most amazing, all-female rockstar group for our open source product. We are working on a project that is really exciting to all four of us. We’ll be spending the next few weeks building out and launching this open source product, and it feels really neat to be able to contribute to the web dev community in this way. Finally, we will move into the hiring portion of Codesmith, and in the blink of an eye I’ll be done with the Immersive. What? How? Where did the time go? Six more weeks and I’ll be a Codesmith graduate on her way to finding her first software engineering role. What an amazing program this has been so far and I cannot wait for what’s to come!

Blog written by Kelsey G., Codesmith West Coast Remote Immersive Cohort 54.