After several years of working as an accountant and auditor, Kristy Chu realized she wanted to do something more creative with her career. She also wanted to travel, work remotely, and enjoy a better work/life balance.
After completing the Software Engineering Career Track at Springboard, Kristy landed a job a few weeks ago as a software engineer for a SaaS company called FloQast, which provides software solutions for accountants. In her new role, Kristy says she’s been able to contribute a user’s point-of-view from having worked as an accountant herself, while also having an opportunity to leverage her domain knowledge.
Kristy says she’s most drawn to the user experience aspect of software development—especially when it comes to understanding the edge cases and features that different types of users would look for.
Honestly, it was mostly about work-life balance. I just didn't feel like working 12-16 hour days was really for me—and it wasn’t limited to the weekdays. That was probably the biggest driving factor. But the part that made me want to go into software engineering was more so about the type of work that I was doing at the time with accounting. I liked what I was doing at the time, but I felt like there had to be something more to it. I wanted to be more creative. Software engineering isn't necessarily the most creative field, but I really like being able to build something and see it in front of me.
Right now I'm a software engineer at FloQast, a company that builds accounting software. It was the perfect fit for someone like me. The company actually hires a lot of people with a background similar to mine—people who were accounting auditors in the past who then went to a bootcamp to become a software engineer.
During one of our sprint meetings, we were trying to come up with a feature to roll out in the future and it didn't seem like anyone really knew whether or not this feature was better one way or the other. But I was able to step in and say, "I've used the product before and I think that as an accountant, I can see the users using it this way as a more helpful method" rather than the other way that they had proposed. So in those moments, I’ve thought: "Wow, I could actually use my accounting skills for something that was totally not in accounting.” I can bring a different perspective.
It’s a web application, so you run it on your computer and you can play the game on your console at the same time. So I created an app that shows you which fish you’ve already caught in the game and shows you what other fish are out there that you should look for. I hadn’t played the game in a while and when I started playing again I remember wishing an app like this existed.
It was an idea that I had a while ago. The Korean skincare routine has gained a lot of popularity over the years. When I first started researching all of the products, I would get confused and forget to do certain steps. I wanted to create an app that helps users figure out the sequence and keep track of all of the products that they have and in what order they need to be used. I also created a feature where you can see what skincare products your friends are using so you can gift them for their birthday or on Christmas. A lot of my friends are really into skincare and then it's just easy to get skincare products as a gift for them.
I think if I hadn't gotten hired so quickly, I would've wanted to build out that app and put in a calendar feature or integrate it with retail websites. I think it’s a really great app idea.
I don't feel motivated to work on something unless it feels personal to me and I can see myself in the shoes of the user. I think that's when I can actually think about how I would use this. How would someone else do it? What are the test cases and edge cases? In that sense, it becomes a creative process versus if it was something to do with big data and I don't really know how the app is being used. Then I wouldn’t feel like I could be a valuable contributor.
The product is accounting software, and it helps accountants with the close process. I will mostly be focused on trying to resolve tickets. I was recently introduced to the architecture and what our team is responsible for, and they introduced a really long-term project. They're basically trying to go from a certain data structure that they have right now, which is really big and complicated, and split it into smaller pieces so it's more efficient. The role itself will touch both front-end and back-end development.
I would say the most important thing is to keep practicing and not give up. The second thing would be to just keep working on the technical skills and work on your weaknesses. So even if you’re strong on the technical stuff but you’re not so great at talking to people or keeping up a conversation, then work on that behavioral stuff as well.
I was feeling really down on myself when I didn't pass my first mock coding interview with Springboard, and I knew that it was one of my weaknesses since I was coming into this with zero technical skills and learning everything from scratch at Springboard. But the thing is I knew that I was good at talking to people because it’s something I've practiced from having a background in accounting. I do feel like companies tend to value people when they're able to get along with others versus someone who's really technical but doesn't know how to work with other people.
Yeah, and I just kept working on the technical side. I practiced a lot with a friend who is a software developer. So if you can find a mentor who is willing to practice doing mock coding interviews with you, that is really helpful. It’s a very different experience practicing on your own versus in front of another person.
The capstone projects were really helpful in applying what we learned, and so were the videos by Colt Steele [acclaimed Udemy instructor and curriculum lead for Springboard’s Software Engineering Career Track].
"But I honestly feel like all the Googling and the research that I had to do on my own when I couldn't figure something out or there was a bug was more valuable to me than just learning and regurgitating code."
I had to figure out why a bug was occurring or why the software didn’t work the way I wanted it to. Being able to do research and solve the problem is a skill that is more valuable to other people than just memorizing code and spitting it out.
Yes. I was really frustrated at the beginning of my Springboard course because I just kept thinking, "how do I get better at problem-solving?" And I feel like that's probably a question that a lot of early boot campers have. You just have to keep going. It'll click one day.
My mentor was really cool. Her name is Candice Haddad [front-end engineer at Kaleido Health Solutions]. She was a boot camper herself and then she worked at a company for five years and then she actually quit and moved abroad, but when COVID hit she had to come back to the States. So she seemed like someone that I could really relate to because I also love to travel, and I wanted to be in a more flexible career that would allow for travel and remote work.
Candice had the same intentions when she switched careers, too, and she was in the process of moving from the US to Portugal while she was mentoring me. So I was able to learn from her how she did that whole process. I thought that it was really awesome that she made a huge change in her life and yet she's still able to be a mentor and work as a software engineer for a company in the States, too.
That was always my dream, but I think I did this career change a little too late because I feel like I have to be a little more settled down now. So I'm probably not going to be a digital nomad, but because my family is located in Northern California [away from where I live], I’ll be able to visit them without sacrificing a ton of PTO, and I can still work remotely.
I wrote a really extensive review of Springboard on SwitchUp. So if anyone is interested in that review— like anyone who's thinking about doing Springboard or wants some tips about Springboard—I'd be happy to connect on LinkedIn.
I had taken the Udemy course by Colt Steele and I realized he's a really good instructor. So I thought, okay, why not try Springboard? I was also looking for a remote program where I wouldn’t have to commute every single day for three months on end. I really liked that there are a lot of hands-on projects in Springboard—I think those were really attractive to me. The price was probably another factor—it was pretty much the same price or even less than other three-month intensive boot camps. But I felt like those other boot camps teach you less and they might have less support too. Obviously, I can't say for sure, because I've never taken those bootcamps, but that's from what I heard and from my research at the time.