Today, we would like to introduce ourselves – we are a particular subset of the Mindset development team, The Fab Four Associate Developers: Jason, Katherine, Juliette, and Curtis. We all share a common background, graduating from a full-stack engineering program in Minneapolis, and we joined Mindset in two different waves in 2022. Although we are not here to delve into the specifics of SAP Build or ABAP RAP, we want to share our unique perspectives and experiences.
Mindset recognizes that we bring a lot to the table on a development team as career shifters. Teams with a greater diversity of perspectives and lived experiences are more likely to generate innovative and creative solutions to complex problems, represent a more comprehensive range of users and customers, and reduce groupthink while fostering collaboration.
We got together to share our thoughts on what this transition has been like for us. The past year has brought us much change, challenge, and personal growth, from adapting to the endless acronyms to the newfound ability to work remotely. Join us as we reflect on our journey and where we’ll go from here.
Tell us your name and what you did before becoming a developer.
- Curtis: Hello, I’m Curtis! Before becoming a developer, I was a choir director/music teacher for over 15 years.
- Juliette: Hi, I’m Juliette. In my previous life, I was in the kitchen for over 20 years as a pastry chef and culinary educator, and I also spent a few years as a biking and hiking tour guide in Italy.
- Jason: Hi, I’m Jason. Previous to becoming a developer at Mindset, I was a database engineer. I spent 15 years at a company in Chicago that focused on tradeshows and conferences.
- Katherine: Hey there, my name is Katherine, and I’ve been working in the sustainability field since 2016. Before Mindset, I worked as a bike mechanic in Minneapolis, MN.
Why did you choose to work at Mindset?
- Katherine: The Apphaus was what first caught my attention. I liked working for a company that focuses on innovation and user experience. What sealed the deal was interviewing with leadership. Mindset felt like a safe space to grow as a newer developer.
- Curtis: Out of coding boot camp, Mindset was the first place to offer me a job. I accepted right away for a few reasons. First and not surprisingly, being a developer pays much better than being a teacher. But more importantly, I immediately got a sense that the people at Mindset were good (something that has proven true a year later). The culture at Mindset is so supportive and generous.
- Juliette: Curtis was one of my mentors while I was studying full stack development (the same program from which all four of us Associate Developers graduated), so I could talk to him and then Katherine about their experience at Mindset. So between the good impression I got throughout my interviewing process and hearing firsthand that other recent grads had a positive experience, it was an easy choice to accept the opportunity.
- Jason: Juliette and I were both in the same cohort at Prime Digital Academy, and she suggested that I connect with Matt Garland, the HR director at Mindset. Knowing Mindset had two recent graduates of Prime and that I would start with Juliette at the same time was very appealing to me. I also researched the company and liked that it was a local company. I also like that Mindset had some DEI initiatives in the pipeline. A company that took DEI seriously was very high on my want list.
What were your first impressions of SAP?
- Jason: SAP was much larger than I initially thought. I had heard of SAP before, and the SAP logo was in my purview a lot. But I didn’t realize how big the world was until I worked at Mindset. Most of the world’s transactions go through an SAP system; I think it’s 80% or close to that number. That was pretty impressive.
- Katherine: I’ll admit I was pretty intimidated by SAP when Gavin and Ethan presented at Prime Digital Academy. Here I was learning new information every day, and then SAP introduced me to another world of an industry that I wasn’t even aware of, but 80+% of all the supply chain touches. It was eye-opening; I had only been aware of consumer products, but now I was learning about enterprise products and services.
- Juliette: My first impression was… what is being talked about?! SAP was unfamiliar to me as a new developer, as well as the world of enterprise and its terminology. I’m still getting my bearings with the many acronyms and different technologies.
- Curtis: All the acronyms! I had heard of SAP before becoming a developer but had no experience or knowledge of what it was or how it worked. So knowing the difference between BTP, S4/HANA, ABAP-RAP, and CAPM (to name a few) took a few months of listening to several OpenSAP courses and only knowing what sort of what was being discussed!
What has surprised you about working at Mindset as an SAP developer?
- Katherine: How human-centered the company is. I appreciate how Gavin really means it when he loves providing excellent experiences for customers and employees. Also, we’ve been working on DEI, and I love that we’re trying to find ways to be more inclusive. I was hired on from an initiative to hire from a diverse talent pool (career transitioners). Nothing is perfect, but the effort to consider feedback and improve is inspiring.
- Jason: The mass amount of technology that SAP has to offer. I didn’t realize how vast the SAP technology library was. SAP gives you a wide array of career opportunities in many different areas of expertise. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but after a couple of months of taking it all in and consulting with other people at Mindset, I feel I’m on a good path with a focus on the backend. What is most surprising, though, is that Mindset would ultimately support a change in direction. If I wanted to switch focus to a different technology a year from now, Mindset would also help that pivot.
- Curtis: Frankly, just how massive SAP is. I love the mission of Mindset, though, and seeing how we can bring a better user experience to SAP applications through various solutions. The challenge of figuring out what solution is best for a given client can be daunting because there are so many options, but that’s part of what makes this work so interesting.
- Juliette: Mindset as a company, the thoughtfulness, and intentionality put into the employee experience. I’ve been impressed with the level of organization given to onboarding and the emphasis placed on honest feedback within teams and the company as a whole. I hear a lot about how new developers are sometimes thrown into the deep end without much guidance in many companies. I am happy that Mindset has given me a lot of support since the beginning so that I can be successful as a developer.
Is there a particular area of SAP or development in general that you are interested in diving deeper into?
- Juliette: In terms of SAP, I’d like to grow my proficiency in UI5 and Fiori and better my understanding of BTP services. In the bigger picture, I’d like to keep up my React skills and get into mobile development with React Native and Flutter.
- Curtis: I’m interested in learning more about mobile development in SAP. I’m planning to take some mobile development courses this year and hope to put that to use for our clients at Mindset.
- Jason: I’m interested in backend development, specifically ABAP programming. I have a backend background, so I naturally gravitate towards ABAP. Although I would also like to be proficient in UI5 and Fiori. The front-end development sparked my interest in going to Prime, so I would like to continue developing my full-stack knowledge.
- Katherine: I like the Fiori Design and want to improve with SAP UI5. I am also keeping an eye on the Sustainability Control Tower. Since SAP is so immense, there is an opportunity to measure and report progress toward climate goals.
What has been the biggest benefit to your career change?
- Jason: It wasn’t technically a career change but a shift from a slice of the backend into a full-stack developer. I felt a bit stuck where I was before in that I wanted to expand my knowledge overall in development but didn’t see a direct path to that goal where I was working previously. Prime and, subsequently, here at Mindset has allowed me to pursue a wide range of knowledge. That shift has brought me more excitement for me in the development world.
- Curtis: Flexibility! Working from anywhere has been incredible (and something you can’t do as a teacher!). Also, along with that, has been the freedom to pursue the areas of programming that interest me. I’ve been encouraged by the management at Mindset to find an area of development I’m excited about and figure out how that fits into our offerings. It’s fulfilling to have such encouragement and support from your workplace.
- Katherine: Being able to grow personally and professionally within one company. At my previous jobs, I didn’t always have room for growth; our main requirement was constantly learning.
- Juliette: A healthier lifestyle and work-life balance! Coming from the hospitality industry, I’ve usually worked the hardest during holidays and many nights and weekends. It was also hard to take time off, even sick days. Now I have so much more freedom and time to take care of responsibilities in my personal life or even take a day off if needed. At the same time, I have more energy and enthusiasm when I am working because I’m not burnt out.
Anything you miss about your old career?
- Curtis: The students! I love working with students and helping them grow. There’s nothing quite like seeing the lightbulb go on in a student’s eyes when they fully grasp a new concept or skill. Thankfully I’ve been able to leverage my experience as a teacher at Mindset as I’ve been able to develop a curriculum and oversee training for our new Associate Developers.
- Katherine: Sometimes, I miss the physical demand of my previous jobs. It’s quite a transition to be working with computers every day. I would lead people on bike rides at one of my old jobs. It’s hard not to miss that, but here at Mindset, I can accrue vacation and explore the world a bit more. I’d say it’s a fair trade-off.
- Juliette: Sometimes, I miss the hands-on satisfaction of being in a kitchen all day and touring around Italy. Going from such physically dynamic jobs on my feet to a sedentary role is a significant change. Also, I went from being an expert in my field to being a newbie developer… it’s humbling, but my confidence is growing more and more.
- Jason: I miss being the point person for questions. Being one of the most knowledgeable people in the room in meetings. I miss the people that I worked with for 15 years. I am glad to have some of those relationships even after leaving.
What advice do you have for someone considering a career change into development?
- Juliette: First of all, if you have any doubts about the technical aspects of development, you can learn! I had a lot of self-doubts initially and still regularly experience Imposter Syndrome, but I can also see how far I’ve come in just one year. If you like solving puzzles, enjoying a good blend of solo and collaborative work, and getting a kick out of building things, you can thrive as a developer. Reach out and ask to chat with people you know in software development or tech in general and talk to friends-of-friends. You’ll have to get outside your comfort zone, but it’s worth it!
- Katherine: If you’re looking for a career that challenges you and is constantly changing, go for it. I think most people working “dead-end” jobs would be pleasantly surprised by how much opportunity and variety there is in development. My most significant advice for someone considering changing careers is to look beyond FAANG companies and what the media is saying about the industry; otherwise, you may never even give yourself a chance to try. Getting into development opens the door to unlimited career potential. Develop your growth mindset, give yourself a chance, and keep an eye open for opportunities.
- Curtis: If you appreciate flexibility because you have a strong internal drive to improve continuously, then this is the career for you. The world will always need developers (at least in our lifetime), and even small businesses need help in this area. If you enjoy regularly learning new things and can learn to be comfortable with the discomfort of learning, you have everything it takes to be a successful developer.
- Jason: I think the Technology industry is a wide-space space of personalities. If you are creative, there is a UX track for you in this industry. If you have a personality to solve problems, this is definitely the industry for you and a great opportunity to change careers. Suppose you are a person who has an outgoing personality and likes to engage with people. In that case, it is also a great opportunity for you to change careers as development is becoming more team driven. If you have an opportunity and a window of time to dedicate yourself to a Coding Bootcamp, do it.
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