Kelly’s Tech Journey: How Bootcamp and LinkedIn Transformed My Career

Kelly Howes, Northcoders graduatePreview: Kelly Howes, Northcoders graduate

I’m Kelly, a neurodiverse woman who has had quite the journey into tech. I’ve always been interested in tech stemming right back to my childhood. My dad’s hobby is building and maintaining computers, he’s all about the hardware but I was always about the software. As I grew up and the internet really took off (showing my age now!) I really wanted to learn how to create the sites I was browsing but I thought you had to be some sort of genius to do these things so I went into a completely different field.


After I got married and had a baby I considered what to do in terms of a career, I decided that accountancy just wasn’t something I wanted to continue with. So I enrolled with the open uni on a web development course. The course honestly put me off, it wasn’t at all what I expected and focused more on the design side of web development rather than what I was looking for (proper coding). 

I applied my limited skills from the course to create static sites for local charities and small businesses. When a DVD business requested an e-commerce site, something I’d never done before I tackled it by experimenting with a basic PHP template. This hands-on approach became my norm, leading to more e-commerce and static site projects, which I balanced with raising my daughter, however, it never grew into a career as I just didn’t have the technical training.

During Covid when the dance school I was managing went under I began thinking once again about what I wanted to do. My daughter's health, mental health and school struggles made me consider psychology (another interest of mine). Due to equal parts bullying and undiagnosed autism, I missed a great deal of schooling (I missed almost all of the last year of secondary) and as a result, my qualifications were not as good as they could have been (barely scraping some passes) one of my failing subjects was maths (which is ironic considering I spent the first few years after school working as an accounts clerk). 

So I decided the first thing to do was re-take my maths GCSE, as I just needed the qualification to get onto the next stage of education I opted for the foundation paper much to the dismay of my tutor who wanted to put me in for the higher paper. I had a big decision to make, do an access to higher education course and then a psychology degree or go back to my old love. I started researching how to get into tech and stumbled across a "guaranteed job in tech" company and fell for it, but it turned out to just be a pro subscription to an online coding school. I started my journey, throwing myself into the courses on the coding school’s site, however, a lot of the courses were very outdated which I found frustrating. I persisted, supplementing my learning with Udemy and Code First Girls courses.


Realising I needed more structured learning, I explored various bootcamps one of which was Northcoders. The thing that set Northcoders apart for me was the support right from the get-go, the slack channel where you could ask any questions, the drop-in sessions and most importantly all of the free coding lessons at the application stage. 

I passed my entry challenge and was offered a place, I’d also been offered places at other bootcamps so I went into research mode. I used LinkedIn to essentially stalk previous cohorts from different bootcamps and Northcoders seemed to consistently have people working in tech within months of graduating. One of my LinkedIn connections was a tech recruiter and I commented on one of his posts and we got chatting via direct message. He was so lovely offering me advice and he said Northcoders was the only bootcamp he would recommend as the graduates' standard was well recognised in the industry, which cemented it for me and I accepted my place.

I began the software engineering bootcamp in January 2024 and graduated in April 2024. I’ll be honest I was terrified about starting the bootcamp. I’d heard how intense it is and I was worried about being able to keep up, so much so that I had a good chat with the wellbeing lead Danni who reassured me that most people feel the same way before they start. I really feel that the staff are what elevates Northcoders above other bootcamps, the level of support is amazing!

The staff really try to make what is a very demanding course enjoyable. For example, tutors like Rose, Haz, Emily and Kev brought humour to the lectures and seminars, and our group cohort lead Rayhaan as well as the group mentors Nick, Poppy and Mezz ensured we felt supported and went above and beyond to help us bond and have fun. We would spend the last 45 minutes or so on a Friday doing something fun like a quiz or in later weeks gartic phone. My cohort group even came up with it’s own memes that are now slack emojis so future cohorts when you see the ‘ward’ or ‘bag7’ emojis you have the group 3 Jan 24 cohort to thank.


Kelly Howes LinkedInPreview: Kelly Howes LinkedIn

Kelly's LinkedIn posts

Before starting the bootcamp, as I grew my LinkedIn network, I kept seeing valuable insights from David Roberts of Crushing Digital. I invested in his course and David gave me so much incredible advice but above all he said to document everything I did at Northcoders, to have evidence of my skills, my learning, my passion for tech. So I posted every single day of the bootcamp, usually a code snippet from that day and I talked about what we did, what I learned and any mistakes I made. I also took part in virtual tech meetups and made lots of new connections that way, wonderful people who would encourage me on my journey.

Post-graduation, my LinkedIn activity continued, leading to job referrals and valuable connections. One such connection was an amazing woman called Jade Wilson, she’s a senior software engineer at Microsoft, and her content is great, a wonderful balance between thought-provoking, tech knowledge and hilarious jokes. She’s someone I aspire to be like both in my career but also how flawlessly she seems to interact on LinkedIn. When I saw her post about being able to take on 3 new mentees I jumped at the chance to apply not thinking for a second that I would have a chance because I was just a bootcamp grad and I was sure she’d have so many better candidates. I couldn’t believe it when I got her email accepting me as a mentee. During one of our meetings, she said my LinkedIn really stood out when she was looking at the applications. Jade has helped me so much after graduation with focusing on what skills to hone, where to look for jobs and just building up my confidence. 


My advice would be don’t do the spray and pray method, take your time to read the description and any required skills. Read about the company, make sure it’s somewhere you would feel comfortable working, and that their values align with your own. There’s no point applying for a position if the company is at complete odds with your own values and opinions. 

Keep track of where you have applied and at what stage you’re at, I used a Trello board for this which helped me keep on top of everything. It was very useful especially when I had multiple interviews and phone screenings in the same week.

During interviews follow the STAR method and try your best to make every answer go over something you have built or learned during the bootcamp or if you have it other relevant tech experience. Above all be yourself and be authentic, don’t try and portray something you are not, you want to be hired for who you are and what you can bring not a made-up version of yourself.

Research the company extensively, try and find something you can ask questions about rather than just generic job role-related questions, show them that you are interested in what they do. During an interview with a company that provides coding resources for teachers and children, my questions about accessibility and educational impact demonstrated genuine interest, setting me apart from other candidates.

Kelly Howes LinkedInPreview: Kelly Howes LinkedIn

Kelly's LinkedIn posts

Thanks to Northcoders' comprehensive training, my mentor Jade's support, David’s guidance on standing out and all of the wonderful tech connections I’ve made along the way, I landed my dream role just 67 days after graduation. I am happy to connect and share more details with current, upcoming, or alumni Northcoders students. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.