Exchanging a Healthcare Job for a Tech Career & Freelance Business

By Chevas Balloun

Last Updated: December 27th 2022

Behind the scenes of a Digital and Web Coordinator who is a Nucamp Bootstrap instructor.

"While teaching I am able to experience the sheer fulfillment of it all. Teaching is more heart-centered and I love helping people and having a positive impact on their lives." -Olivia Culver, Nucamp Instructor

Olivia Culver is one of our top instructors and it is easy to see why.

Besides being a great instructor, Olivia is a “Jane of all Trades” as she calls herself, who has taught herself coding, web development and design, social media marketing and management, affiliate marketing, and more.

Olivia now works full-time as a Digital and Web Coordinator for MICPA, runs her own freelance web development and digital marketing agency, Team One Digital, and also teaches the Bootstrap course within the Nucamp Full Stack Web and Mobile Development Bootcamp.

Olivia started her career as a Certified Nursing Assistant with the goal of becoming a Physician Assistant, but a year after working as a CNA and studying for the GRE, she didn’t feel motivated to continue her studies.

Being a full-time employee in a hospital setting opened her eyes to realize that environment wasn’t for her.

Olivia was surrounded by burnt-out coworkers and people sacrificing their physical and mental well-being for the job; she didn’t want that for herself.

She started looking at different career options in 2018 and ended up trying out a few things that didn’t stick including an e-commerce drop-shipping business and opening a social media marketing agency.

Even though those things didn’t pan out, she ended up using that knowledge down the road.

”I don’t believe in regrets in life. Everything is just a lesson learned.”

Around the same time, Olivia’s brother was a teacher and attended a bootcamp to learn android development to support his growing family.

When he got a new development job he doubled his salary.

This inspired Olivia to try coding herself and reasoned with herself that even if a career in web development didn't pan out for her, it is still an important and profitable skill to know.

Thus began Olivia’s self-taught coding journey in 2018 while she was still working full-time as a nurse.

What was your schedule like while working full-time as a nurse and learning to code on your own?

Each week Olivia’s schedule would shift and change, so she leveraged the flexibility of learning on her own and dedicated two hours after work to study coding.

She also attended tech meetups and volunteered with a program to help kids get into programming with coding games.

Olivia specifically looked for opportunities to get experience, build community, and network.

She attributes her learning success to treating learning to code the same as she would a part-time job by dedicating set hours to it each week.

Being self-taught, there isn’t a designated “end” to what you are learning. How did feel ready to move to the next stage?

Olivia started applying for as many jobs as she could about 6 months into teaching herself coding.

She felt pressure at her nursing job to leave as they were implementing large-scale changes where she was picking up the slack of multiple other positions.

A local Michigan epoxy company then hired Olivia as their sole Web Developer and Digital Marketing Manager.

“You will never feel officially ready. If you wait until you feel comfortable and ready, it will take years. You need to push yourself and make yourself ready by trying. You have to have the confidence to know you can learn it. I took on a lot of responsibilities I didn’t have experience with and I have succeeded along the way. You might not feel fully prepared, but you will be able to teach yourself on the job. Experiential learning is so important and it is going to stick better than simply following a tutorial.”

Did networking and community building help you get your first job?

Olivia did not leverage a connection to get her first job but does think networking and community building helped build her confidence and even enjoyment for coding.

Being self-taught Olivia didn’t have a cohort or a live instructor like students in Nucamp do and because of that, there were many times she felt alone during her journey.

Olivia admits she can be introverted and struggle to ask for help, so going to tech meetups to be around other programmers and to hear tech jargon being used was important for her growth.

What do you think made the difference in helping you stand out to get your first job?

Since Olivia was hired as a Web Developer and Digital Marketing Manager, what made a difference in her getting that job was her background in web development in digital marketing within her social media marketing agency and previous e-commerce site.

What felt like “failures” at the time to her, ended up helping give her the well-rounded experience she needed to succeed in both her entrepreneurial endeavors and in her full-time job.

What were the first few weeks of your new job like?

“I had an interesting experience where I only had one day of training before the previous person in that role left the company. There were a lot of things that were not communicated to me and I knew nothing about their product (epoxy flooring). I didn’t have a team or senior person to turn to, I was solo in what I was doing. The learning curve was steep for me. It would go from everything is good to I made a mistake and am super stressed about deadlines. It was a mix of emotions of being grateful I wasn’t in healthcare anymore, but also stressful.”

What is the most challenging and also most rewarding thing for you being a freelancer?

Olivia recommends freelancing to all her Nucamp students.

She believes it’s a great start to a coding career since you don’t need to wait until you get your first job to build valuable real-world experience.

Instead of making up fake projects for your portfolio, it can make it easier to get freelance clients, even if it's just friends and family.

Olivia likes its versatility in either being a main source of income or something on the side to supplement your income; it’s scalable up or down.

How did you find Nucamp and what’s it like instructing at Nucamp?

Olivia applied to teach at Nucamp around the same time she started her first job.

Teaching has been a great way for her to keep up her coding knowledge when she isn’t using it daily in her full-time job.

Olivia has taught the bootstrap course 16 times since January 2020 and has an impressive average instructor rating 4.81/5 from 626 students.

In her first course ever, she was rated a 4.72/5, which is incredible!

“My students challenge me to break down concepts even further for those who were not getting it right away. I have to think more deeply about the material in order to convey it to my students. I’ve learned not to assume students are understanding and absorbing everything. I’ve got to slow down and over-explain when needed. I also make sure to leave room for questions. It is really fulfilling work. I love being able to assist people on their journey, to have lightbulb moments, to help them understand challenging subjects.”

Watch Olivia's live Campfire interview with Nucamp's CEO, Ludo, here.

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Chevas Balloun

Director of Marketing & Brand

Chevas has spent over 15 years inventing brands, designing interfaces, and driving engagement for companies like Microsoft. He is a practiced writer, a productivity app inventor, board game designer, and has a builder-mentality drives entrepreneurship.