“…Throw yourself in and start learning!” Apprenti Software Engineer Apprenticeship Graduate, Alana Franklin advises.
Alana participated in training with TLG back in 2017 and completed her training in October of that year. By November, she started an apprenticeship with Microsoft and was hired full time by July 2018. She now says that she’s managed to triple her income in the past 5 years! In those 5 years her career path changed from an Executive Assistant at Amazon to a Software Engineer 2 at Microsoft.
Now, things may have changed quickly for Alana, but don’t question it as ‘luck’ or not putting in the work. If you read our original Student Success blog with her, take note that she, along with most of our graduates, doesn’t have a background in tech before diving in the deep end. It will always end up requiring hard work, sacrifice, and some discomfort before something amazing happens.
We followed up with Alana to see how things are going for her 5 years later and to share where she is now. Continue reading our interview with her below for what surprised her the most about the industry, how tech changed her life, and what she had to do to get promoted at Microsoft.
Why did you decide to go into tech?
I worked in admin positions at several tech startups. I never enjoyed the work and didn’t feel like it was a good fit. At those startups I had the chance to work with engineers and learn more about what they did on a daily basis. I also worked in HR, so I was exposed to salary information, and understood the difference between what I would be able to make as an admin assistant, and what a software engineer could make. That made me feel extremely limited.
It’s been a bit since you graduated from the program, what have some of your professional accomplishments been since then?
While I had to work hard to get hired full time and for my first promotion, my biggest accomplishments have been the promotions that I didn’t even realize I was up for. When my manager came to me and let me know that my work spoke for itself and that he was putting me up for a promotion, I was very proud of how far I had come!
Were there any new skills, training, networking, etc that you cultivated before you were promoted at Microsoft from Software Engineer to Software Engineer 2?
The biggest thing that has contributed towards my technical growth – especially early in my time at Microsoft – was my amazing mentor! I’m always able to go to my mentor to ask design and technical questions, and it’s so nice to be able to discuss them in depth one on one. Shout out Mitch! Ask your manager about connecting you with a mentor, and really take advantage of that relationship!
Now that you work in tech, what’s one thing that surprised you the most about it?
While technical ability is obviously very important, I always feel like my soft skills are what have gotten me promotions. Communication, organization, and a good attitude are some of the skills that a lot of engineers struggle with. By leaning into these skills I have been able to set myself apart.
If you could go back, is there anything you would have changed about your path into tech?
I just wish I could have started earlier! I’m so happy I took the risk to leave my corporate admin job. I had no idea if it was going to work out, if I was going to regret it… I was worried that I would fail and I would have to go back to working as an admin. I’m finally at the point in my career that I have confidence that I’ll never have to do that!
What one piece of advice do you have for someone that has little to no experience in the tech industry, but is interested in jumping in?
The biggest thing is to just throw yourself in and start learning! I spent a lot of time learning coding fundamentals before I started my apprenticeship, which really contributed towards my success. If you feel like you’re making good progress, and you LIKE what you’re learning, then consider taking the next step.
What advice do you have for someone just finishing up an apprenticeship with TLG Learning and entering the workforce?
I think the number one thing to focus on is getting quick and clear feedback. Make it clear to your manager/lead what your short-term and long-term goals are. Bring them up often. Check in and make sure your manager thinks you are making progress. It’s reasonable to receive constructive feedback, but you want to receive that feedback WAY ahead of any official review cycle.
How has a career in tech changed your life?
There are two big ways that a career in tech has changed my life: work life balance and compensation. I have literally tripled my income in the past 5 years. It’s crazy and I’m so appreciative! As for work life balance, being able to work from home on my own schedule is a huge positive for me! In past jobs I have felt like everything I do is being watched, and that I’m just there to complete busy work. In my current career I know that it is my impact that matters, and as long as I’m making an impact it doesn’t matter where/when or how much I work.
What’s next for you? Future goals, etc?
I was just promoted this past September, but I’m already having conversations with my manager about where I need to grow in order to get the next promotion. I’m not expecting that for a while, but I want to be actively making my way towards it. I’m excited for the day I’ll be able to say I’m a Senior Engineer at Microsoft!
Belated congratulations on your promotion at Microsoft, Alana! We are so excited for your continued success and we know that you would be an excellent senior engineer.
To learn more about your options with TLG IT Careers, visit our site or schedule a meeting with one of our Educational Consultant to discuss your unique needs and to determine if an IT apprenticeship or IT pre-apprenticeship is right for you!