An Answered Prayer: How the Coding Boot Camp Brought Christine Hong Clarity, Community, and Upward Mobility

Christine Hong knew she wanted a job in the tech industry. What she didn’t know was how to make it happen. 

A year and a half out of college, she was desperately craving a career change. But without any formal computer science education or experience, securing a technical position felt impossible. “I was tired of drifting away from my passions,” said Christine. “I wanted to be intellectually stimulated and financially stable, in a field that I loved.” 

Determined to make her dream a reality, Christine considered going back to school. That’s when she discovered UofT SCS Coding Boot Camp — and things began to take a turn for the best. 

Today, Christine has broken into the tech industry, overcome imposter syndrome, and secured a full-time IT Business Analyst position in TD Bank’s Technology Associate Rotational Program. Here’s her story, in her words.

For starters, what inspired your interest in technology?

A lot of my friends knew their career paths early on in college, but that wasn’t the case for me. My parents are both blue-collar workers, so the fact that I got into university itself was a surprise for them — I’d already exceeded their expectations. I wound up with a degree in Digital Enterprise Management, which allowed me to dip my toes into new technologies like HTML, CSS, and WordPress while learning about topics like social media, IT, and surveillance.

While my major sparked my interest in technology, it didn’t necessarily prepare me for a career in the industry. Many of my classmates went on to pursue digital marketing, but that wasn’t for me. Marketing requires a lot of account management, networking, and PR. I’m more of an introvert — I like being behind a computer screen.

Can you walk me through your first few jobs post-college?

After graduating from college, I applied for a bunch of tech-related roles but didn’t land any of them. That’s when the harsh reality set in: I wasn’t technical enough for the jobs I wanted. Despite the accomplishments on my resume, I didn’t stack up to the competition. The job market was really tough, so I accepted a role as an executive assistant at a real estate company. I learned a lot about business there, but I was drifting away from my passion for technology, and that wasn’t what I wanted.

My next job was at a fashion company. I loved everything the brand embodied, but there wasn’t any upward mobility there. At that point, it had been one and a half years since I’d graduated from college, and I was scared I’d forgotten anything I’d ever known about technology. I had a talk with my mom, and she said, “If tech is something you’re passionate about, maybe you could go back to school for it.” So I started searching for programs and praying to God. 

Why did you wind up choosing UofT SCS Coding Boot Camp?

This program made the most sense financially, since Trilogy set me up with a six-month payment plan that worked perfectly with the salary I was making at the time. I’d previously considered master’s programs, but decided I didn’t want to waste any more time waiting to enter the tech industry — so those weren’t right for me. With [this Trilogy-powered boot camp], I was able to work part-time while completing the boot camp.

How was the boot camp community? 

I love the tech community. Whenever I had a question, everyone was immediately willing to help. My instructors and classmates were always there for me. We had a group chat on WhatsApp, a Facebook group…I even Skyped with classmates!

My instructor was really invested in our success, too. Even as a senior software development engineer, he would hop on Zoom to work through code with us. And when things got tough, he reminded us why we were doing this.

What’s one of the biggest lessons you learned in the boot camp?

During the boot camp, I learned that even my instructor struggles sometimes — and he’s a senior software development engineer. His vulnerability showed me that it’s okay to feel challenged. That attitude really helped me later on during my technical interviews for the IT Business Analyst role within the Technology Associate Rotational Program at TD Bank. I didn’t know all the answers — and for once, I didn’t feel like I had to make them up. When my interviewer asked me about recursive testing, I admitted that I wasn’t familiar with the concept but showed an eagerness to learn. Honesty worked in my favor.

Congratulations on landing your new role at TD Bank! Looking back, how would you say that the boot camp helped you get there?

My instructor was such a great source of emotional support throughout my job search — I’m so grateful for him. During the interview process at TD Bank, I told him, “I don’t think I’m competent enough.” He was so compassionate, telling me about his own experience with imposter syndrome and assuring me that it’s a very common phenomenon in tech. It was so helpful to connect with someone who understood what I was going through. 

On the technical side, the boot camp made me a really competitive candidate. I spoke with my recruiter after landing the role at TD Bank, and they were really impressed by all the programming languages I’d learned in boot camp since they were the same ones they were using at the bank. Traditional computer science graduates didn’t necessarily know React, Node.js, Angular, SQL, or MongoDB — but I did. All of my technical interview questions came straight from the boot camp. I remember thinking, “If I didn’t do the boot camp, I never would have gotten this role.”

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