Fashioning a New Career in Tech: Meet Leanne Roddy

JavaScript bootcamp graduate Leanne Roddy discusses her new career in tech.
Coding bootcamp student Leanne Roddy

Ten years after college, Leanne Roddy was ready for a new opportunity. She wanted a career that would give her the financial freedom to travel but still keep her creative fires burning. She considered coding bootcamp for over a year, but the timing just wasn’t right. Then the pandemic happened.

Leanne was working daytime as a Production Manager for a Michigan apparel manufacturer when the pandemic hit. She helped her company transition to making PPE for frontline workers even as she took on a new challenge: an after-hours Grand Circus bootcamp.

What did you do before bootcamp?

I was in fashion. I went to school for fashion design. Then, I worked for a few different small production houses. I was in production management, which goes along really well with tech: managing processes, coming up with new solutions, all that kind of stuff.

Why did you start thinking about a career in tech?

I was not very thrilled with not making enough money in fashion. I wanted to go on vacation one day and it didn’t seem like this was going to let me do that. 

My ex-boyfriend had gone to school for painting and then taught himself to code. He’d been in the tech industry for ten years and was able to quit his job, hang out for three months, and go to France and Spain. 

He said one thing that stuck out to me: coding deals with the same attention to detail as painting. That’s something I really like about fashion and pattern making. So I thought, “I’m going to look into this.”

You received an NCWIT scholarship to attend Grand Circus. What was the application process like?

I heard about [the NCWIT scholarship] through Grand Circus. I think it required a letter of recommendation, a resume, and a recorded question-and-answer video interview. The interview was a little awkward.

What was your first experience with coding?

I took the Intro to Coding course at Grand Circus. Then I took another course. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t do anything about it for a year. My job had me working until 6 and the after-hours bootcamp started at 6:30. I would never have been able to get from Pontiac to downtown Detroit in time. Then the pandemic started. We changed our hours and this was kind of perfect.

Did you have a good rapport with your instructors?

My instructors, Joe and Grace, provided so much emotional support. I don’t know if I would have gotten through it without them. Grace was like a therapist. It was amazing; she’s so sweet and fun.

Joe helped me with my resume. For me, writing a resume is the worst. I’d rather let a car run over my foot. Joe sitting down and helping me to do that was the best.

How are transferable skills helping you in your tech career?

Gosh, it’s like everything from my previous job has helped. There are so many angles. 

In my previous career, I had to communicate with clients and express why something wasn’t going to work. There are rules. We can’t do certain things. Being able to express those limitations to people internally here at Rocket Mortgage helps so much.

There’s overlap in setting up systems, too. My work right now is repetitive. I have to do the same thing over and over, so I set up a system to make that easier — and that’s what I’d always done before.

What was the job search like?

I took the JavaScript bootcamp. Afterward, I applied to anything that came up that required just a couple of years of experience. There were a lot of openings. I ended up getting the first job that I interviewed for.

What would you say to women considering a career in tech?

This space is for all of us. We need to be a part of this industry. We deserve this and we can do it. We aren’t going to know everything right off the bat. I still have so much to learn after Grand Circus. That said, we still deserve employment in this industry.

Coding is a skill you can work on. It’s like sewing was for me in the beginning. I sat down at a sewing machine every single day and now I’m good at sewing. The same is true for technology.

If you’re a woman or non-binary person interested in tech, the NCWIT scholarship can cover your Grand Circus bootcamp tuition.