Always Up for a Challenge: How this Fitness Professional is Now Building Software at LinkedIn

Originally posted here via Wogrammer. 

Jette Hernandez is one of the toughest coders you’ve ever met. As a former collegiate athlete, yoga instructor, and personal trainer, Jette is well-versed in the strength and tenacity required to reach one’s peak potential.

This competitive spirit proved useful for Jette when she steered her career in an unlikely and unexpected direction. While working at the registration table of a tech event to earn extra money, Jette was intrigued by the job descriptions she saw on the attendee name badges (mostly belonging to men). Viewing this as somewhat of a personal challenge, Jette pulled a female event attendee aside to ask how she got into coding. It was this woman and this conversation that served as the catalyst to Jette’s new career path.

“I realized STEM is one of the fields where we can change social norms; and where women can perform at a very high level.”

As an avid professional networker, Jette used her connections to facilitate an introduction to a contact who managed the employee gym at LinkedIn, and eventually received a personal training role in the building. Jette was able to see firsthand how the company valued a collaborative culture, strong work ethic, and positive attitude.

“In the two years of being a personal trainer at LinkedIn, I learned how much relationships mattered, how to ask for advice, and how to take action to get to my goals.”

With no formal education or background in software engineering, Jette was determined to learn how to code. She enrolled in a coding boot camp in San Francisco, living out of her car for two weeks and working as a personal trainer to make ends meet.

After completing the coding boot camp, Jette initially struggled to find a job, as she didn’t have the typical four-year degree in engineering. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t deter her. In fact, it only served as a motivator for Jette. She knocked on the doors of various companies and told employers she was willing to work for free to gain the necessary experience.

“Whatever problem I had, I knew there was going to be a route to my goal. It might not be the most convenient or simple route, but there is always a way to get to your goal.”

Jette eventually found a firm willing to take a chance on her by offering a full-time internship. In this role, Jette was able to build her resume and continue improving her coding abilities.

Leveraging her skills and new professional relationships, she was accepted into LinkedIn’s REACH Apprenticeship. The program welcomes driven individuals who come from non-traditional software backgrounds into technical roles at the company so they are able to continue learning on the job.

Early on in her time with the REACH program, Jette helped to launch an internal product for the marketing team, making it easier than ever for site editors to copy and paste parts of website components onto different pages. This improvement eliminated the tedious parts of site editing and allowed for non-technical employees to have more autonomy when revising sites.

As an athlete and natural team player, Jette emphasizes the power of collaboration when navigating a career in STEM, crediting her success to supportive mentors along the way.

“If there is any kind of imbalance; if there is somebody who you think is smarter than you, don’t see it as a point of being ‘not good enough’. Learn from them!”

Jette believes every challenge she’s faced along her unique journey into engineering has made her the woman she is today. A strong believer in the power of mindset, she encourages everyone to try something new, and if necessary, to get up and try again.

Originally posted here via Wogrammer. 

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