[00:00:20] Kate Martin: Welcome to the apprenticeship.io podcast, where we gather the courageous leaders the tech industry needs to talk about education, equity, job hunts, hiring in tech and you guessed it apprenticeships. Whether you're considering a career switch to tech currently studying or working and leading in tech, we hope to show you stories, ideas, and tactics to inspire you and equip you to make the tech industry, and our future together, a more equitable place for all of us. Let's get to know today's guest.

[00:00:50] Kamrin Klauschie: Today's guest is Meredith Jones. Meredith became an Apprentice Software Engineer in the first cohort of their REACH apprenticeship in 2017 after attending Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco in 2016. Before becoming a software engineer, Meredith was a clinical dietician for seven years. She has expertise in motivational interviewing and chronic disease management, and loved baking cakes for kids in foster care. Meredith overcame depression, an eating disorder, and navigated a divorce solo at a very young age. She studied dietetics at Brigham Young University. Meredith loves hiking, UI engineering in Ember, and photography.

[00:01:28] This episode was originally recorded in May 2018.

[00:01:31] Welcome Meredith.

[00:01:33] Meredith Jones: Thank you.

[00:01:34] Kamrin Klauschie: Excited to have you. Can you tell me about the educational upbringing of your childhood? This can be formal education, your relationship with learning, and the people who inspired you. How did it feel for you as a kid growing up in school?

[00:01:48] Meredith Jones: My parents always encouraged me and my siblings to work really hard to achieve our goals. They didn't really pressure us to learn anything in particular or grades-wise, but they were always supportive of us pursuing our goals. I was really shy and lacked a lot of confidence, but for some reason, I was still very competitive. When I was about 10, I took up playing the flute and I practiced a few hours each day, 'cause I wanted to be really good at it. One of the people who inspired me a lot was my flute teacher, because she was really skilled at what she did and she also believed in me. I had some really inspirational school teachers as well, growing up, mostly because of the shyness and the lack of confidence. I was super self-conscious. The teachers and the people who inspired me the most were the ones who instilled confidence in me, who helped me believe in myself. I even remember to this day those teachers and how much it meant to me when they believed in me.

[00:02:49] Kamrin Klauschie: My mom was a teacher in my high school growing up. The confidence piece is huge. I don't know that I'm even still fully confident in myself. It always helps to have someone in your corner who sees you and cheers you on. And then also curious if there's anything you want folks in the audience to know about you and your life story that maybe they won't see on LinkedIn or any of your other social media?

[00:03:15] Meredith Jones: I tend to curate social media pretty carefully. There's not a lot of personal struggles and you don't see the slug on my life, on Facebook or LinkedIn, but I think it would be beneficial to know that I've been through it. I grew up in a very religious family. The cultural norm for the religion was getting married pretty young. I ended up getting married when I was 19. I was super miserable for a couple years and ended up getting divorced and went through that entire process by myself, struggled with eating disorders for my teens throughout my twenties, battled depression, things that you don't really put on social media usually because it's not necessarily the socially acceptable thing to do, although I think it should be. These are the things that actually define me and these are things that like, helped me practice resilience. Because I had to get through these things, that's made me who I am today. If you look at my Facebook, you'll see someone who appears to go hiking 90% of the time, and you don't see like the resume rejections, and you don't see the 80-hour study weeks, or the mental health struggles, but those are the things that have helped me create my grit and help me be who I am.

[00:04:26] Kamrin Klauschie: Thank you so much for sharing that. I know it's not necessarily easy to share the struggles that you've been through. I think a lot of other non-traditional engineers and other folks who will listen to this will be able to connect with the things that you're saying and the experiences that you've been through. Struggles are pretty universal, but most people don't really want to talk about them. You might actually know the person that I'm thinking of, but there's a LinkedIn executive, I don't know if he's an executive, but he's definitely a leader, who's been posting a lot of content about his struggles with alcohol abuse. I just found it so fascinating, that he was using social media that way, because to your point, I think what you see and hear of people online a lot of the time is just the highs. One of the things that I think is really important about this community is getting real about the journey that you took to be where you are. It's not just Software Engineer at LinkedIn. You went through so many things to get here.

[00:05:24] Meredith Jones: You're right about being real, that's what people need to know because it's not all sunshine and roses. It's definitely an uphill battle. It is for everyone making this sort of transition. It's definitely not easy.

[00:05:39] Kamrin Klauschie: You alluded to this next question, but maybe you can go in more depth, what got you into studying nutrition and becoming a dietician?

[00:05:47] Meredith Jones: When I was a teenager, I developed an eating disorder. It was actually interesting because I thought that I was healthy. I got interested in nutrition, with air quotes around it, and started learning all about it and, decided, "Oh, I'm going to major in dietetics because I'm so interested in this nutrition." When I got into the major, I realized that I was actually quite unhealthy and a lot of things needed to be fixed. I had a few family members and close friends with nutrition related chronic diseases, and I was interested in what could be done to prevent those diseases and to help cure people with nutrition. So it was two-fold. I didn't realize that it was a problem at the time. You don't really recognize that it's an eating disorder, until things get really bad or someone approaches you and says, it seems like you have an eating disorder. I went into dietetics thinking everything was fine, but I did have an eating disorder at the time. Throughout the major, I was able to address it more, but the initial decision to go into it was based upon a false notion that I was healthy.

[00:06:47] Kamrin Klauschie: Do you think of that as kind of fate or how do you think of that, being brought into nutrition and then finding that out?

[00:06:55] Meredith Jones: I have really mixed feelings about how that all played out. On the one hand, I wish I would have recognized early on that, 'hey, I'm good at math, maybe I should major in Computer Science', but on the other hand, I appreciate having gone through that struggle and having come out a stronger person. So maybe it was fate that I fell into dietetics this way and that I went through that, but it's definitely like if you could go back and change one thing, would I change that? I don't know. I don't know if I would.

[00:07:26] Kamrin Klauschie: Yeah, that's really interesting. So a question I have related to that too, is, so my mom was a high school health teacher and I know for me growing up in that environment, it always felt in the field there's a lot of almost competing advice, for every thing that you can say about being healthy and having a great diet, there's also something that can prove that something's unhealthy or bad for you. What are the things that we know are good and healthy? What are the things we should be doing?

[00:08:01] Meredith Jones: That's a great question. I think that we really know very little about what is healthy. I honestly think that because humans are all so different - one person may be fine with milk, one person may have a terrible reaction to milk. It's just because of different combinations of DNA. That's so many variables to try to deal with, and then someone tries to do a study on what's good for you, or what's not good for you. It's very hard to normalize data from a study regarding humans. Figuring out what is healthy is more complicated than we sometimes make it, because 15 years ago fat was bad and carbs are good and now it's the other way around, and we really just don't know. I guess the short answer is, I think we can conclude that we should eat a variety of foods, the less processed the better, and in moderate amounts.  I don't really know that there's much else to say definitively. So it's confusing, even working in the field, it was just like, we're not sure if this works or not, but let's try it.

[00:09:01] Kamrin Klauschie: Bringing together your current work and your past work, do you see any interesting opportunities in tech to help with this and to grow your ability to be healthy? You were mentioning a lot of the research that's come out recently shows that things are very customized to each individual. It seems like something tech could enable us to do better with, is there anything you're excited about that you've seen tech companies do?

[00:09:25] Meredith Jones: Yeah, I've seen a couple different DNA-based nutrition type companies that I haven't really looked into that much, but I think the idea is interesting because if they can identify based on your DNA, what you should be eating, then maybe there is an answer for each individual. I don't know, one way or the other whether they work or not, but it just an interesting idea. I also think the more nutrition or fitness tracking type apps, the more data we'll be able to collect to at least give people a better idea of what works and what doesn't for any given individual. On the flip side, using some sort of nutrition app can be helpful for a person to understand themselves. Because if it's true that everything should be individualized and maybe a person can take it upon themselves to try to understand that based on the fact that they can collect all this data about them.

[00:10:19] Kamrin Klauschie: [00:10:19] Yeah. I'm definitely someone who endeavors to collect data on myself. I downloaded an app called Chronometer ... it's really exciting, actually. When I was in college, I used to be really obsessed with the apps that allow you to look up books based on the codes on the back of them. You could just scan them and they'd automatically go into your little queue. Chronometer allows you to do that with food - anything that has a code on it, which obviously is limited for restaurants, but it'll give you the breakdown of everything you've eaten that day. It's hard to keep it up every day, but I think if we are more informed about our actual habits, it can change lives for sure.

[00:11:00] Meredith Jones: Habits are huge. It's the key to success for any goals.

[00:11:05] Kamrin Klauschie: What about bad advice in dieting? What are some of the things that you hear the magazines or the advertisements talk about?

[00:11:17] Meredith Jones: It's anything that involves a wagon, basically. If there's any getting on the wagon or falling off the wagon, it's probably unsustainable and it's probably not something that will work or have long-term impact, or positive impact for that matter. If change is really wanted, then small incremental, almost unnoticeable changes need to be made that become habits. Generally, diets don't work. So if you're at risk for saying that phrase, "Oh, I fell off the wagon," or "I'm going to get back on the wagon," then chances are your approach is bad nutrition advice. Anything that is so extreme, or such a big change that you're requiring of yourself, that it takes like ultra effort to continue it. It could be just an individual saying I'm not going to eat any sugar for the rest of my life, or even for several months, that might be a big change. It's usually an extreme change that takes a lot of effort to maintain.

[00:12:16] Kamrin Klauschie: What are some of the tactics or strategies that can be successful? It sounds like habits and micro change, but what frameworks and resources were you using in your past life, if folks are interested in digging in more?

[00:12:31] Meredith Jones: I can recommend Power of Habit, the book. It outlines my approach when I'm helping people with their nutrition and setting goals. You make a goal and then you break it down into small goals, and then you break those goals into tiny, actionable items. You look at a habit that you currently have and you say, how can I work this goal into that habit? Or maybe even replace a bad habit with this tiny actionable item. A silly example and not even nutrition-related, but my sister told me about how she would always be worried that she didn't turn off her straight iron in the morning, and so she would go to work and she would worry, "Oh crap, did I turn it off? Is my house gonna burn down?" And this would happen like over and over. So we figure out, what's something that she does every morning that will help her do as a signal to remind her that she did turn off her straight iron? And she says she puts the certain ring on her finger every morning. I thought, okay, what about if you put on the ring after you turn off the straight iron every morning so that when you look at your ring you know that you've already turned it off. It's things like that. You find these tiny little habits and you say, okay, this is what I'm going to do every time. This can apply to nutrition. If you walk in the door every day and you say, "I want a snack," and you know that there's a certain snack that you need every day, that's in the cupboard. What if you put something healthier on the counter, and so when you walk in the door and you see that healthier thing on the counter, then your mind goes to, "Oh yeah, I'm eating this healthier thing," or just take the less healthy thing out of your house all together, but that's another matter.

[00:14:03] Kamrin Klauschie: Those are really good examples. Another strategy I heard about recently that I hadn't heard of before that's been working for me... I tried to train for a marathon, but didn't actually run the race, and so it's been really hard for me to get back into exercise and training. I've had this goal of running a marathon for a long time, but I've not been able to do it. It's very frustrating as a high achiever to just continue not to reach the goal and especially when you've trained up to 20 miles and people who have done marathons know, it takes up so much of your life. It was so hard. The thing that I've been doing lately to get myself back in shape and to stay committed is I'm just doing my training the first thing in the morning, and I am the last person who will ever say that waking up early is a good thing. I'm such a sleeper. But apparently there's a book called eat the frog or something like that. Basically the strategy is do the thing that's going to have a lot of resistance first, so that the rest of your day you're spending your time, yeah, I did that thing. I haven't necessarily gotten to a place where I feel really in shape or confident, I know that's coming, but just the process of finishing the thing that I'm dreading early has actually been a really interesting phenomenon for me.

[00:15:24] Meredith Jones: I could see how that would be really like mentally uplifting. You've accomplished this thing already, and it's still early in the day and you have your whole day ahead of you to just continue kicking ass. It seems like a good strategy.

[00:15:35] Kamrin Klauschie: We'll see. Stay tuned. Because at DBC, I used to introduce myself as "I'm the person who runs at night to scare myself into running faster." For a long time, now I'm doing something else. So we'll see. We'll see if it pans out, but... I wanted to dig in a little bit more to your experience managing chronic illnesses. I want to do a special shout out if there's anyone listening to this podcast who maybe is coping with their own chronic illness or is taking care of a family member or friend who has a chronic illness, and maybe they're also considering transitioning into tech - who knows. What advice would you have for those folks? How can they manage their interest in tech and their care for a family member, friend, or for themselves?

[00:16:25] Meredith Jones: The first thing that comes to mind is don't be afraid to ask for help. I think a lot of people just try to do everything on their own and if someone was caring for a family member with a chronic illness and trying to make a big career change, that's two major tasks and it can be overwhelming. There's a lot of people out there that are willing to help if you ask, but if you don't ask, then nobody will know. The other thing is people have a tendency to over-commit themselves, and so I would just suggest: don't be afraid to say no to extra things. If you already have two major things going on, then, don't worry about doing the side volunteer work or going to a long lost acquaintances wedding or don't worry so much about saying, don't feel guilty. This is a time where you have to take care of yourself and you also have to take care of someone else.

[00:17:22] Kamrin Klauschie: That's really good advice. It's really hard to say no.

[00:17:25] Meredith Jones: Yeah, for sure. I think people just want to please other people. Everyone wants to make people happy. A lot of times at the expense of their own wellbeing. The power of no is very powerful. Very empowering.

[00:17:37] Kamrin Klauschie: I've heard that Oprah apparently puts a post-it note on her desk of something, for her, that felt like a whole body and soul and heart. She puts that thing on her desk to remind her what it feels like when "yes!" is everything inside of you, and to remind her that anything that doesn't feel like that should be a no. I just remember, of course, Oprah, you're so badass. This makes sense. It's hard to implement in your real life though. So one other thing about you that caught my eye... I have a dentist who gives away Starbucks gift cards and anytime I'd tell my friends how awesome my dentist is, it's because she gives away Starbucks gift cards and people always think she's ruining your teeth... I'm curious to hear why and how you deliver birthday cakes to at risk foster youth. Can you share more about how you got into that? And why as a nutritionist are you up to that?

[00:18:41] Meredith Jones: In my dietetics program, we're required to do, I think, a thousand hours of dietetics related work. It just so happens that it included food service. I decided to get those hours by learning how to decorate cakes and practicing a lot, and then getting a job as a cake decorator. I love doing it. It was a lot of fun. It was during my college years. When I saw Cake for Kids, I thought it would be awesome to have an excuse to make cakes, with the added benefit of the fact that there's these kids and it's not guaranteed they are going to get a cake for their birthday. Even though cake isn't the most nutritious food in the world, these kids should feel like somebody cares and that they're special. At least one day of the year, they get to celebrate the fact that they are alive. It's cool because for this program they get to request what theme cake they want, what flavor. I had a little girl request a Minnie Mouse cake. They know that somebody puts a lot of time and effort into, and caring about them specifically. For me, making someone feel what every kid should feel: that they're loved and that they're cared for, kind of beats a day of good nutrition. I think there's such a balance to be had between quality of life and perfect nutrition. If it makes you happy and brings you joy, I think you should go for it.

[00:20:05] Kamrin Klauschie: These kids, they definitely deserve it, and that's so beautiful. It was such  an expression of love and skill and craft too. I didn't know. I didn't know that you were a professional cake maker.

[00:20:18] Meredith Jones: Yeah, that's what I did to get through school.

[00:20:21] Kamrin Klauschie: How cool do you still make cakes? Is it still a thing that you do?

[00:20:25] Meredith Jones: So it's been a little while, but I'm really hoping to start doing it more often, now that my job is a little less late nights, a little more manageable.

[00:20:33] Kamrin Klauschie: We spent a good amount of time talking about nutrition and your past work, but now I'm curious what led you to transition into a career in technology?

[00:20:45] Meredith Jones: I was looking to get out of dietetics, because it was a little draining to work in the field where I had so many personal problems in the past. With that in mind, I started to look at well, what are my strengths? What was I good at in school? What do I like doing about my job now? And realized that I was good at organizational structural mathematical type things. I mentioned that to a friend. And he said, " why don't you look into coding?" I had never really thought about that before. I always thought that was a guy thing, which is unfortunate to have ever thought that. I tried it out, like I just did some tutorials and really fall in love with it. I'm glad I tried it.

[00:21:26] Kamrin Klauschie: Kudos to that friend of yours. My goodness. What you were saying about the gendered experience of technology is really true, 'cause even for me, I personally identify as an introvert and so many people in my work think that I'm extroverted, so when I talk about my own interests in building software and becoming more technical, I've had people who are like, "What do you mean you're super social and you love talking." I'm like, no, actually I'm faking it, and those things shouldn't be mutually exclusive. These narratives we have about what it means to be a technologist are very interesting. How did you end up picking a bootcamp, and why did you pick Dev Bootcamp?

[00:22:12] Meredith Jones: I studied for a couple of years just on my own at night. I ended up deciding that I would quit my full-time job and do the boot camp because I liked night class enough, and I liked the other studies that I had done enough. I had a little taste of what I would be experiencing later at Dev Bootcamp. I liked the fact that it was full stack. It was a holistic whole person approach to programming. It had some Javascript and I was interested in learning that more because I knew I was interested in the web. Things fell in place for Dev Bootcamp.

[00:22:45] Kamrin Klauschie: That's awesome. What were some of the programs that you, or programs and resources that you use when you're dabbling and figuring out if it was something you wanted to commit to do full time?

[00:22:56] Meredith Jones: I used CodeAcademy and I did nine courses through Code Fellows, which is another bootcamp based in Seattle. I did a lot of practice problems on Code Wars. And, I did some Eloquent JavaScript, like I did some reading and problems in there. It's a mishmash of things, but they all complimented each other.

[00:23:22] Kamrin Klauschie: That's a huge part of the journey too, that gets overlooked often is that phase where you're dabbling and figuring out what works for you and what doesn't.

[00:23:29] Meredith Jones: It's a big investment and it's scary to just quit what you're doing. I wanted to get comfortable enough on my own studying that I would know that if I did drop out of my current career that I would be okay moving into something else. It was through those couple of years that I was dabbling that I was able to get comfortable enough to join a bootcamp.

[00:23:51] Kamrin Klauschie: Was it easy for you to have confidence in yourself coming from nutrition and the background that you have into technology, or did you slowly gain confidence? how did it feel for you as you were trudging through that process? A lot of people have the inner critic saying your background's not right.

[00:24:14] Meredith Jones: It was pretty scary most of the time, even when I quit my job, it was still scary. There were a lot of times when I had no idea what was going on and I was just like, "maybe I'm not meant for this". It was definitely [an] imposter syndrome situation, most of the time and still is a lot. But slowly but surely, I'm getting more confidence. It's just a matter of you having small successes and that helps you build up and then another small success, and before you know it, you look back after a year and you say, "Hey, I've learned a lot. I'm getting okay at this."

[00:24:44] Kamrin Klauschie: It's this incremental gradual process. I know a lot of people are probably really curious about REACH. Just to give background, you were selected as one of the LinkedIn REACH apprentices, which was 29 people who were selected for this pilot apprenticeship out of 761 applicants, which I love. Shalini posted online, if anyone's curious - you can look up her blog post on LinkedIn that says the exact numbers of how many people went through this process. It was a 4% acceptance rate. Obviously, you really stood out to them. As a candidate, what was that process like for you, and what do you think that you did as an applicant that made you unique and special?

[00:25:29] Meredith Jones: Part of it is maybe I'm really lucky. The other part is I took the entire process seriously. I spent a great deal of time on every single stage - the essays, I wrote them and then I had eight people proofread them and made sure one was an engineer, one was an English major. When it came time for the project, I put everything into it like that I possibly could, and just went crazy with creative ideas for how to make it my own and make it stand out. One thing that I really tried to do on the essays was tell my story and make my story come to life, so that the person who was reading really felt what I felt. I think that probably helped, because a lot of times people are afraid to tell the narrative of their story, especially in a professional setting, where it's more common to have a resume narrative. I also described some of the mistakes that I had made in bootcamp and, stupid mistakes on my final project and what I learned from them. Things that made me a human.

[00:26:32] Kamrin Klauschie: So if I can recap what I just heard, you worked really hard and put a lot of time and effort into it and, assuming also what's behind that is that you really wanted this specific role and to work at LinkedIn, which I think is something non-traditional engineers miss. I always talked about the "spray and pray" approach, which is applying to everybody and not really knowing what you're applying to and hoping it's going to come back, but it sounds like that was not your approach at all. You had a lot of diverse feedback and incorporating feedback.

[00:27:04] Meredith Jones: In the applications that I did in general, not just for REACH, but the more personal I could be, like adding a cover letter and I know some people don't read cover letters, but, generally the callbacks that I got the interviews that I got were from me being more personal.

[00:27:19] Kamrin Klauschie: It's almost like magnetism where you have to really have self-awareness and know who you are in order to attract the kind of people, team and company that you want to be at. You'll have success, but if you don't initially have the right kind of charge, it's really hard to attract the kinds of opportunities that you are seeking. So for folks who don't know, one of the things Meredith just said is, the essays, the means of the initial screen for the on-sites. Another one of the things about this process for this pilot, that was super interesting, was that one co-founder of LinkedIn participated in one of the rounds. Can you describe what that was like and how that made you feel as a candidate?

[00:28:09] Meredith Jones: The reception that we got when we were onsite was incredibly warm. All the people who interviewed us and who took us around were volunteers and they were all very happy that we're there. You could tell that they believed in us and that they were really excited about this program. To know that a co-founder was involved, that's even better, the founders of LinkedIn believe in us. One thing that's really important to LinkedIn is facilitating transformation. They have really lived that by having this program and by accepting people who don't have that same background as everyone and helping us.

[00:28:43] Kamrin Klauschie: This is good learning, our aspiring technologists in the audience, the interview process, it's very difficult to make it identical for everyone. And one of the other things that happened that I was totally freaking out over when I saw the photo come out was, Jeff Weiner actually. Is that how you say it by the way? Is it Wiener? It's Wiener. Okay. Jeff Wiener, he took a photo with you guys at the all hands and did an intro welcome.

[00:29:10] Meredith Jones: He took a photo with us at the all hands, and then he also did a fireside chat with just us, which was incredible, that he took out time from his day and just let us do question and answer with him. That was pretty amazing.

[00:29:23] Kamrin Klauschie: I remember just almost crying, sitting, looking at the photo of all of you with him. It can be done. Companies care. How did you either utilize or talk about your previous experience, either in the application process or interviews, if at all? Like maybe you didn't use it.

[00:29:43] Meredith Jones: I think I capitalize most on the soft skills gain from being in health care, there's empathy, there's communication. The interview skills that I was able to attain as a dietician, they trained us in this technique called motivational interviewing. I was able to use things like the reflective listening that they taught us and  open questions to show them that I can communicate. That was pretty helpful.

[00:30:08] Kamrin Klauschie: I feel like more people should definitely research motivational interviewing. You said reflective listening. Transferable skills people, they're valuable. They're everywhere. Your final project also was a nutrition app too. Wasn't it?

[00:30:24] Meredith Jones: It was more of a food app. It was like a food choosing app.

[00:30:28] Kamrin Klauschie: So we touched on a few of the aspects that made LinkedIn REACH really special, and in my mind, it's one of the coolest programs that has been done by a tech company recently. Another thing is just that everyone who I've ever met at LinkedIn loves working there. And I'm curious, given your experience now that you're a software engineer there and you've gone through this pretty amazing pilot program, what would you say to other companies that are considering doing a program like REACH - both as a non-traditional engineer and then also as someone who is now successfully contributing an amazing way to the team that you're on?

[00:31:12] Meredith Jones: Yeah. I think that companies should know that these types of programs are a really good way to cultivate a culture of varying experiences and ideas. The wider companies can cast their talent net, the more likely they are to find people and to develop teams that make great products, because they'll wind up with a variety of viewpoints and opinions. They'll have this well-rounded team that can bring so much richness to the table, that it's going to help them make a better product. A lot of times folks from non-traditional backgrounds, they got there because they work really hard. If you want hardworking people with a lot of grit, with a lot of drive, then you really want these people working for you. Because a lot of times that attitude can't really be trained, the grit, the drive, you can't always train that. You can teach someone how to do a thing, but you can't teach them to have drive really. It's in everyone's best interest, really, to look for these people from these different backgrounds.

[00:32:21] Kamrin Klauschie: Yeah, totally. Even having conversations before, when the application page was up and how they had said, we're going to hire 15 people for this, and then they got a pretty overwhelming number of applications, but also ended up wanting to extend offers to basically double the number of people. Which is awesome, LinkedIn is able to find a budget and make that work. It is a testament to what you just said about finding people who are adaptable and people who are gritty and passionate. These untapped or less focused on talent pools really, I think are going to change the way that tech companies are run. I'm curious if you have any words of wisdom for the folks out there who are transitioning into tech right now, maybe, considering it in the dabbling phase that you were mentioning on CodeAcademy, not sure if they should commit or perhaps, in the middle of an immersive program and trying to get through it, or the next phase of job hunting and slogging through rejections and things like that? You've been through all of those different moments. Any advice or words of wisdom for those folks?

[00:33:32] Meredith Jones: It's the most difficult thing that I've ever done, more difficult than battling depression, then navigating a divorce solo, then working as a dietician with an eating disorder. But when you get through it, when you land that first job, when you get those interviews, you'll not only come out with a new career, and it's maybe more engaging and rewarding day to day work, but you'll also come out with more confidence, knowledge that if you can do this, you can do anything. My advice would be to just keep going and take it one day at a time. Actually it's something that's stuck with me for a long time that Jeff Weiner had said in the fireside chat, someone asked him about transformation and how do we make that transformation? And he said, you just take it one day at a time. He said, just paraphrasing, a caterpillar doesn't just go to sleep and expect to wake up as a butterfly. It's a long process. You take it a day at a time, and that's really what this comes down to is you take it a day at a time. You're consistent. You give it your all and you'll come out a whole different person. I'm more confident, I'm more knowledgeable - someone who can meet any goal if you've done this.

[00:34:42] Kamrin Klauschie: Some of the advice you were giving earlier about healthy habits also applies to this too. Reaching out when you need help.

[00:34:49] Meredith Jones: Leveraging your network is really important. There's a lot of people going through the same thing, reach out to them, make connections, just put in the hours, do everything you can.

[00:35:00] Kamrin Klauschie: And one of the topics we've been exploring on this podcast a lot is this concept that when you get into a position as a software engineer, people expect that they have made it and all their problems in life are solved. But in my experience working with folks, it immediately becomes this like success problems scenario, where you have to figure out how to decline a bunch of interviews you might have, or, once you get on the job, then you have to figure out how to actually find and get rid of bugs. It just continues on the journey of the process and continuing to learn and grow. So I'm curious, if you have quote, metaphorically made it, what do you see for yourself next? What's your big aspiration or goal for yourself now that you're in software engineering?

[00:35:48] Meredith Jones: Wow. I think I still feel like I'm on an uphill path, so it's still a lot of me filling in skill gaps and me trying to learn faster and work faster. The next solid career goal is going to be a senior software engineer, but that's gonna take a lot of work and a lot more, a lot more time and a lot more focus. Oh, what I'm trying to say is I'll never be bored at work. I'll always be learning something and always be working towards something and it's never going to be easy, but it's all good. It's all worth it.

[00:36:24] Kamrin Klauschie: Do you get to learn and you get to work on the Learning product at LinkedIn?

[00:36:30] Meredith Jones: Yeah, it's so funny because actually one of the resources that I leaned heavily on that I forgot to mention earlier, but I might as well do a shameless plug is I took a lot of Lynda courses when I was first starting and now, LinkedIn bought Lynda.com. Now I'm essentially working on the product that helped me learn how to work on the product, and so it's fun cause it came full circle.

[00:36:53] Kamrin Klauschie: So for a full circle, that's amazing. I think it's also important for folks to hear that, even where you're at now, one, you still really want to learn, but two that you also, feel a sense of like it's okay. It's okay to be on that journey, not something that's wrong with you. It's just part of the process as you said, like filling in gaps and figuring it out as you go.

[00:37:21] Meredith Jones: Even if you might not know as much as the software engineer who has been here for 10 years, and you shouldn't because they've been here for 10 years, there's still a lot that you can contribute or for me on my team that I can contribute, like I'm still driving big projects. I'm still helping make important decisions. Even though I feel I'm not where I want to be, it's an interesting journey and it's a fun journey and it's a challenging journey, but no one expects you to be there already. It's a process.

[00:37:49] Kamrin Klauschie: One last question. So I remember, I think it might've been at Dev Bootcamp, when we hosted you all to speak, but you had mentioned that you want to work at LinkedIn forever or for a really long time. Is that true? Are you still in love with LinkedIn? I totally don't blame you if you are, cause I'm in love.

[00:38:10] Meredith Jones: Yeah. It's so funny. I actually told one of my friends this morning. I was like, yeah, I'm going to, I'm just going to stay here forever.

[00:38:17] Kamrin Klauschie: That's so cool. There it is. There you have it, people. Thank you so much, Meredith. This has been amazing having you on the podcast.

[00:38:24] Meredith Jones: Thank you.

[00:38:25] Kate Martin: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the apprenticeship.io podcast. You can learn more about apprenticeships and find us online at www.apprenticeship.io. Don't forget to follow us on Spotify, and subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:38:43] Want to get a shout out on the podcast or support our work? Become a patron at www.patreon.com/apprenticeshipio.

[00:38:51] Until next time, we're rooting for you.