Ask an Instructor: How to Jumpstart Your Career in Tech


About this event

Are you considering one of the many careers in tech? Maybe you’re switching from an entirely unrelated field or you’re a university student just getting started. Either way, you’ll want to join us for this AMA-style conversation with Codecademy’s very own instructors, Ada, Melanie, and Adam.

So how is this going to work? We will unlock the designated forum thread at 1 pm EST on June 22nd. You’ll be able to post your career-development questions in the thread from 1pm until the thread closes at 2:30pm. EST.

“What kind of questions?” you ask.

How about:

-What should I put on my LinkedIn profile?

-What kind of projects should I showcase?

-Do completion certificates really matter?



When: Thursday, May 18, 2023, from 1-3 pm EST

What: An AMA-style conversation w/ Codecademy’s Ada Morse, Melanie Williams, and Adam Herman.

Where: On the Codecademy Forums [Click ‘Join Event’ on the event page here on Bevy to participate]

Our Guests

Ada Morse is a Data Science Instructional Designer at Codecademy. She has a background in mathematics, with a Ph.D. focused on the design of self-assembling DNA nanostructures. DNA has incredible potential as a material in biomedicine and biomolecular computing, but the unique geometry of DNA makes designing nanostructures computationally difficult. In her Ph.D., she developed new mathematical tools to understand when a given nanostructure can or can’t be built using DNA.

Prior to Codecademy, Ada worked as an Actuarial Systems Analyst, taught mathematics and statistics at Champlain College, and conducted research supported by NASA/Vermont Space Grant Consortium. Ada has worked on courses across our Data Science catalog, covering topics including Python, Excel, and Data Engineering.

Melanie is a Product Instructional Designer at Codecademy, and she has built web development courses such as Connecting Front-End to Back-End and Learn MongoDB. She has also implemented updates to Codecademy’s JavaScript and React content.

Melanie has a background in biomedical science, previously conducting research at the National Institutes of Health and Mount Sinai’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. After completing the Full-Stack Web Development Fellowship at Pursuit in New York City, she went on to work in software engineering and tech education before joining Codecademy.

In her spare time, Melanie enjoys rock climbing, reading, treasure hunting for vintage, and working on jigsaw puzzles.

Adam Herman is the Curriculum Manager at Codecademy. He is a former special education teacher that is excited by the opportunity to help people work towards careers in tech! In his free time, he enjoys hiking, reading, and playing board games.

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Attendance Disclaimer

At Codecademy, we are committed to empowering all people, regardless of where they are in their coding journeys, to continue to learn, grow, and impact the world around them. By participating in our event, you agree to the following:

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Questions? Comments? Email [email protected]. And if you can’t attend this event and would like to attend more in the future, join our chapter.

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Welcome to our first AMA-style event in our “Ask an Instructor” series!

A few ground rules:

-Stay on topic. Our instructors will be discussing how to jumpstart your career in tech. Any account-specific questions such as billing questions should be sent to our customer support team .

-Be patient. Our instructors will be taking it in turns to answer your questions, and it may take them a moment to craft a detailed, helpful response to some of your questions. If your question has not been answered yet, please don’t clutter the thread by repeating the question. We will do our best to answer as many questions as possible.

-Be kind. Learners are all at different stages of their learning journeys. What may seem obvious to a more experienced coder may be completely new territory to someone just starting out.

Without further ado, I’m thrilled to welcome @adamorse, @melaniepwilliams , and @adamh1991 .


Hi thanks for hosting this AMA. I’m a career transitioner moving from teaching to the world of data analytics. My question is when do you know you’re ready to apply for jobs? Should you have a certain number of certificates? Be super proficient at certain programs? How do you show employers that you’re ready if you’ve never had a job in the field?


Hi. Thank you for this opportunity to ask questions!

My question is the following:

For an aspiring data scientist who is new to the field and has no degree, are competitions a valuable way to show one’s aptitude in data science? Can they be part of the portfolio? I think the most famous website for data science competitions is

Thank you in advance!


Hey! Congrats on making that career switch – I also used to be a teacher. I wouldn’t say that there’s a specific list, since it depends on the job. That said, I’d suggest becoming reasonable proficient in the most common tools: Python/pandas for analytics and visualization, and SQL for interacting with databases.

The most important aspect of a job application in data analytics is your portfolio, especially if you are applying for your first job in the field. Employers care most about seeing that you can actually do data analysis, moreso than degrees or certificates. Spend time develping your portfolio, and try to make sure it represents your interests and your skills! Start out by completing some guided Codecademy projects, for example, and then go out and find datasets you want to explore.

This can also help you decide when you are ready to apply – once you can complete some solid projects on your own, you are probably ready for that job! Good luck!


Hi, I wanted to ask how I build confidence in my skills.


Thanks! This was very helpful!

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Competitions are definitely a way to build and demonstrate experience! If you place high, that’s great, but even if not, you’ve likely built something you can refine into a portfolio project.

Competitions can also be a fun way to build experience working on a team – find some other folks (on Codecademy forums or discord, for example!) and go into it together like a hackathon.

Good luck!


Hello, I hope that all is well. Thank you so much for this forum! I have the same question. Only I am transitioning into web development and design.

I would also like to ask how you think the emergence of AI will affect new job seekers in our field.

Thank you again!


Hi everyone! Thank you for hosting this discussion session. I am currently studying full time for a career change from a business background (BBA/MBA) to tech. I am in my early 30s. My questions are presented in the following:

  1. Does age matter in making an entry in the Tech field from a different background?
  2. Can my portfolio projects be counted as experiences?
  3. Since there are many technologies mentioned in a job post (such as tailwind, sass, less, react, nosql), how much should I learn before applying in a junior dev position? And if I should apply when the job description matches at least 70-80%?

Thank you!


This is a great question. I also have been wondering this lately.

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Are these skills enough to find a job: HTML & CSS (Advanced), JS (Beginner), React (Beginner). If not, which skills would you recommend for front end development jobs? Thank you! (I will need remote, global job)


Hi thanks for hosting this AMA. I am a fullstack web developer with 2+ years of experience and for last few months feeling frustrated and unmotivated to do this work so I am thinking of transitioning to new field which is pursuing the career as Data Scientist. How can I reach a certain level where I will become a employable person as data scientist? Is transitioning career with having a job is wrong move? How can I manage work and learning Data Science as I have to learn new things i.e. frameworks currently to be able to work in current job?

Hi, in my case I’m trying to transition from accounting to web development, so I ask these questions:

And I’d also like to know the answer for these ones:

Thanks in advance

Hello! Thank you for being here today.

Do you have any memorable moments from an interview? Perhaps a surprising question or relating a personal story that wasn’t directly related to coding?


Hello! Thank you for this opportunity!

A quick context:
I’m Lucas, 29, and I have a bachelors in Medicine, but recently changed my paths towards Computer Science and - besides Codecademy and other e-learning resources - I’ve decided to join a Computer Science bachelor’s.

My questions are:

  • What kind of portfolio projects should I focus on? I still have this feeling that every project is not like real life and won’t count much…
  • Since I’m going to the University again, do you guys suggest anything I should pay more attention to, some kind of experience I wouldn’t have outside the academic world?

Thank you in advance!


Hello, thanks for attending! These are great questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them to the best of my ability:

  1. In theory it shouldn’t. Bias, unconscious and otherwise, is a problem that exists for people from a variety of backgrounds when applying for jobs. That being said, as a general trend in the industry there are jobs for people coming from different backgrounds. The comparatively lower barriers of entry is something I find particularly great about the tech field in general. Speaking as someone who entered tech after being a classroom teacher for several years, I found it helpful to tie my previous experience into current applications to present myself as a more well-rounded candidate than someone who may be just finishing up a degree program.
  2. Yes! We have seen Codecademy learners in the past share that they have gotten jobs partially from hiring teams being impressed with their portfolio projects. Having a link to your github where your projects live and are well presented on your resume is a great way to showcase what you can do.
  3. For a Junior Dev position a competent company should be prepared to develop the person they hire. I would say you should feel confident in applying once you clear a 50% threshold in what they ask for. Many job descriptions don’t differentiate what are vital areas of skill rather than nice to haves, so you may be closer than you think.

Thanks for your question! I think the best way to build confidence in any skill, including tech, is to practice, and learn your craft! My best advice would be to determine what your end goal is, whether it be a specific job or career, or a set of skills, determine the languages and technologies involved and build as much as you can. In tech, confidence comes not from not making mistakes, but rather knowing that you have the tools to figure out how to fix those issues and get yourself unblocked. Think about what interests you, and go make that thing. Embrace the mistakes along the way because as challenging as they can be, that is where the learning and growth happens.

Another great way to build confidence is to contribute to open source projects, these are opportunities to collaborate, resolve known issues in code bases, and get feedback from experienced developers on your code. Good luck!