Software Engineering Career Track
Tetyana Ilyichova
Before Springboard:
Administrative assistant
After Springboard:
Software engineering apprentice at Affirm
“My career coach gave me lots of tips on how to create a great resume and LinkedIn profile. Once I implemented their recommendations, I noticed the difference immediately.”
“My career coach gave me lots of tips on how to create a great resume and LinkedIn profile. Once I implemented their recommendations, I noticed the difference immediately.”
Meet Tetyana Ilyichova, a graduate of Springboard’s Software Engineering Career Track.

Shortly after earning her master’s degree in computer science, Tetyana Ilyichova decided to switch careers. She was living in her native Ukraine at the time, and after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the economy was going through a rough patch, so she took a sales job with a real estate developer. While she enjoyed the work, Tetyana always wondered whether she should return to her technical roots.

After her husband was offered a job in the US, Tetyana decided it was time to consider a career change. It had been over a decade since she’d written any code, and she was worried about how she could get up to speed with the new programming languages, frameworks, and libraries that had emerged since. After enrolling in Springboard, she found that getting back into coding was like learning to ride a bike–once you’ve mastered it, you never forget it.

Two weeks before completing the Software Engineering Career Track at Springboard, Tetyana received an email from the Employer Partnerships team asking if she wanted to apply to an apprenticeship at Affirm, a fintech company that has partnered with Springboard to help new grads land paid, six-month apprenticeships, with the option of being hired full-time at the end of the program. Now, she’s two months into her apprenticeship program and loving every minute of it.

“Right now I’m in the learning stages, but I can’t wait to grow as a software engineering professional,” she said.

Tell me about your career path before Springboard.

I have a technical educational background. Surprise, surprise, I have a master’s degree in computer science! But this was many years ago, honestly. A short time after graduation, I decided to switch careers. There were many reasons–mostly economic reasons–and I wanted to find a more stable opportunity. I took a job at a construction company that builds high-rises totaling 200-500 units per project. I worked there for 10 years as the head of the sales department.

It was a great company. I left when I moved to the United States. I’ve been based in Chicago for the last few years, where I worked as an administrative assistant at a small dental office. During the pandemic lockdown, I decided to go back to my technical roots. So I took a few free courses online just to see how much I remembered. I was surprised to find that it was a really exciting experience. A few months later, I left my full-time job and started the Software Engineering Career Track at Springboard.

What did you think of the Springboard course curriculum and mentorship?

I’m really glad I chose Springboard because it's a great learning experience. The instructor, Colt Steele [acclaimed Udemy instructor] makes confusing concepts easy to understand, and the program was structured very well. I really appreciated the career services at Springboard because it helped me land the opportunity I have now. Affirm is a great company and I understood that this would be a rich learning experience and an opportunity to get my foot in the door.

How does it feel to return to your technical roots after so many years?

It’s not easy, honestly. I'm excited, nervous, and anxious at the same time, because it's very challenging. I’m learning nonstop and I love it. It’s a very intellectually stimulating job. I'm happy that I got this chance and I'm really grateful to Springboard for this opportunity. Img

What led you away from software engineering in the first place?

At that point in my life, I wasn’t ready to work in a technical field. I was living in Ukraine at the time and when the Soviet Union collapsed, the economy was in bad shape. Financial independence was my primary goal at this time. That is why I ended up in the real estate industry–because I felt that my earnings would be better correlated with the amount of work I put in.

How is your apprenticeship at Affirm going so far? What kind of on-the-job training do you receive?

I've been in the program for two months. I was paired with a dedicated mentor who is always by my side. I'm learning non-stop to gain the experience needed to become a full-time software engineer at Affirm. It's a fast-paced environment. You need to love learning and be able to learn constantly.

There's a major talent shortage in the tech industry. Do you think apprenticeship programs can help mitigate the talent shortage?

In my opinion, apprenticeships give companies the opportunity to shape new software engineers with the skillsets they need most. People who are just starting on their technical professional path have a ton of drive and motivation to succeed.

For apprentices, it's a great opportunity to get work experience at their dream company, and a chance to land a permanent position if they can prove themselves.

Apprenticeships give people from different backgrounds—boot camp graduates, self-taught learners and others—the opportunity to get into this field, which leads to more loyal and highly motivated employees who are grateful for the opportunity.

Tell me about your job search process. Was it hard? Was it easy? What kind of help did you have from career services?

During the course, the career coaches provide the students with many resources and recommendations, from time management to job search strategies. For example, my career coach gave me lots of tips on how to update my resume and LinkedIn profile. Once I implemented their recommendations, I noticed the difference immediately.

I planned to start job searching after I received my certification, but when I got the email from the Employer Partnerships team at Springboard with an offer to apply to the Upward Affirm Apprenticeship program, I realized it was an awesome opportunity. The interview process had multiple steps: application review, and take-home assignment, followed by three interviews. I really wanted to participate in this apprenticeship program, so I prepared for the interviews furiously. I used every resource that Springboard provided for interview preparation, both technical and behavioral. I was so happy to get an offer from Affirm. I landed an offer two weeks before I got my certification from Springboard.

How was your relationship with your mentor?

My mentor was brilliant. That said, I feel like I could have used him more as a resource. My problem is that it’s not easy for me to ask questions. Instead, I invest my time trying to find the answers myself. It’s not good practice, honestly. If I asked more questions, I could have gained so much more from my mentor. However, he was always helpful when I did have questions, and I’m very grateful to him.

What was the most valuable part of your Springboard experience?

I really appreciated how the material was presented and the quality of the instructor. Even though I didn’t use my mentor the way I should have, I really appreciated having the opportunity to ask questions, which gave me the calm and confidence to work independently. I’m also really grateful to the career services team because I had the opportunity to apply to this apprenticeship and learn how to prepare for the interview process. I’m really glad that I took this chance to get back into the technical field and I’m very excited for the future.

What do you hope to achieve in your career a few years from now?

I’m excited about the opportunity to become a software engineer after completing the apprenticeship program and learning more in the coming years. I will continue to grow and hone my skills as a software engineering professional.

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