Alumni Spotlight: Turning a Dead End Into a Dream Career
Tricia Leavitt's upward
mobility was stalled until
she took UCI's Full Stack
When Tricia Leavitt graduated from University of Denver
with a degree in business administration, the timing
could not have been worse. It was 2008, right on the
cusp of the Great Recession, and employment
prospects were slim at best.
She eventually found work in a number of roles — from
investment advisor to library specialist — but her interest
in technology and coding had always been a passion.
So Leavitt took online coding classes through her local
library, not just as a hobby but to see if it might be a
field she'd like to pursue professionally someday.
In the fall of 2017, she decided to make the jump and
switch careers. Leavitt enrolled in UC Irvine's Coding
Boot Camp Full Stack web development program,
offered in partnership with Trilogy Education Services,
and she never looked back.
“I found myself wanting more control over my career,
including my prospects for upward mobility,” she said.
“My deciding moment to enroll in the Boot Camp
came when the company I was working for made
it clear that I wouldn't be able to move up from my
current role without a master's degree. I knew that if I
was going to go back to school, I wanted to pursue
something that I really enjoyed.”
Leavitt turned the dead end into a life-changing
opportunity. After a demanding 12 weeks of Boot Camp,
she recently found her dream job at COFEBE Inc., an
innovative software development firm based in Orange.
“I have always loved technology because of the
seemingly endless ways it can be used to better our
world, our work, and our knowledge,” Leavitt said.
“I carried this love with me through the first 10 years
of my career in business, continually looking for ways
that tech could improve workflow, productivity and
Today, she lives in Newport Beach with her boyfriend,
who's also a software engineer. Still getting acclimated
to her new job, Leavitt was nice enough to take a break
from her busy lifestyle to elaborate on her journey.
So after taking on some freelance work, you recently
landed a lead position with COFEBE. Congratulations!
How did your experience with the Boot Camp help
make this happen?
I did and thank you! My experience in the Coding
Boot Camp helped tremendously in finding work in the
software development field, both in terms of the knowledge
that I gained during the program, as well as the
technical interview preparation that was provided by
my teacher and teacher assistants.
Tell me a bit about your new position.
I'm a software engineer for COFEBE, a company that
provides custom software development services to a
variety of clients in a wide range of industries, and I'm
currently leading the front-end web development on a
newly released product for one of our clients. We work
on client prototypes, minimally viable products (MVPs),
and even current software when updates and new
features are needed.
I understand the Coding Boot Camp's Full Stack
program is pretty demanding — especially the full-time
option you chose. What was your experience like?
I can attest to the fact that it is a very intensive
program. I personally averaged about 65 to 70 hours
per week coding, including time spent in class as well
as working on homework and projects. However, that
being said, every student is different in terms of the
knowledge they come in with and how quickly they
learn the material. I believe that students get out what
they put in, so it was important to me to take advantage of this opportunity and learn as much as I could
during my time in the Boot Camp.
What sort of projects did you work on in class and
Our homework corresponded really well to what we
were learning in class each week. We started out
making very simple websites, such as our portfolio
pages and basic interactive games. Then we began
to incorporate things like API requests, working with
databases, and displaying the data on our webpages.
The group projects were more intensive and required
a broader range of skills as well as additional research.
We were also given freedom to choose how we
wanted the projects to look, which features we wanted
to incorporate, and how we wanted to manage the
How did you feel about the quality of instructors?
I am very thankful to have had the quality of instructors
that I did, especially given that they were so helpful
and genuinely wanted to see each of us succeed.
Even now, after completing the program, I still receive
guidance from them while I navigate my new industry.
I'm also appreciative of the fact that they pushed us
toward becoming self-sufficient in our research and
learning. That skill set has been imperative in my current
Was there a part of the camp that you found especially
My favorite part, other than learning the material,
was getting to know my classmates. We all came from
different backgrounds and industries, so everyone
brought something different to the classroom. We
bonded through our shared experience.
You graduated university during the worst economic
downturn since the Great Depression. What sort of jobs
did you take on to make ends meet?
My previous experience is quite varied, to say the
least. I've worked as a waitress, prep cook, salesperson,
lead library specialist and licensed investment advisor
representative. I've worked for some great companies
and with wonderful people, but although I'm appreciative
of everything that I learned while in these roles,
they unfortunately didn't meet my long-term career
goals. Now I'm very much looking forward to what the
future holds for me as a developer!
Getting started in your new tech career must be pretty
time consuming. Do you ever bring work home?
I do bring work home with me, which seems to be par
for the course in this industry. However, I always try to
set aside time to get away from my keyboard every
Do you have time for outside hobbies or interests?
Well, I've always been very involved in music, and while
I no longer perform, I still enjoy singing, playing guitar,
and listening to live music. I also enjoy painting, photography,
cooking, traveling and gardening. I have more
plants than any one person probably should. And
having spent most of my life in Colorado, I try to take
advantage of visiting the beach as often as possible!
Learn more at bootcamp.ce.uci.edu.