Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Ange Canlas Balandra

By Academy Xi

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Ange Canlas Balandra

Keen to hone her coding skills but also looking to balance learning with the rest of life, Ange enrolled in the Software Engineering: Transform course.  

From building web games on the school computers, to developing full-stack web apps, Ange has come a long way with Software Engineering. Find out how studying with Academy Xi is helping Ange transition into a career she’s seriously passionate about.

Why don’t you start by telling us about your career history?

When I finished high school I went to a local college. I started by completing a certificate in telecoms and then after that, took a certificate in assistant nursing. At that stage in my life, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do in terms of a career. 

My family pushed me to go to university, so I ended up studying a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but I was never really sure about the course myself. I decided I wanted to do something I was passionate about. I’d always loved coding, so I decided to quit the nursing degree and take the Academy Xi course in Software Engineering. 

What appealed to you about Software Engineering?

I started coding when I was about 16 or 17. I used the school computers to program basic web app games. When I made the decision to follow my heart in my career, taking a bootcamp coding course was the obvious path to follow.

There’s definitely a bit of a stigma about Software Engineers, with lots of people believing that coding is a man’s profession. I felt like I had a chance to prove that stigma wrong. I wanted to complete the Academy Xi course and earn a formal certification, which would prove that I really can code to a high level.  

Why did you choose Academy Xi?

I looked at a few different courses in Sydney, but in the end decided I wanted something that allowed me to study online. 

I studied my nursing degree on campus. Lots of what we were learning was practical and had to be taught in-person. It meant I didn’t really have enough time to look after myself and as well as to be able to juggle getting to work and such, which is also really important. I picked Academy Xi because it seemed to be the most flexible option and would fit nicely around my work, study and lifestyle schedule.

Did you enjoy the course?

I absolutely loved it! Honestly, there were a few moments when I felt like dropping out. I had deadlines and things became a bit overwhelming. Instead, I put the extra time in and worked really hard on the assessments. I wanted to finish all the projects so I could showcase them in my portfolio. 

In the end, I managed to find the determination to hang in there when things got tough. I’m so glad I did, because it was a huge satisfaction to complete the course. 

How did you find working with your mentor? 

My mentor was Frae Valdehuesa – he’s full of knowledge and a nice person. He gave me a lot of encouragement and congratulated me when I completed my assessments. 

I had unlimited 1:1 sessions with Frae and I’d get loads of practical advice from him. Every time I had an assessment, I’d be able to book a session with Frae and we’d review the project together. Sometimes my coding practice would be incorrect and Frea would explain why. As well as the free resources, I relied on those sessions to guide me through the course. 

What would you pick as your highlight for the course?

I’d have to say completing all the projects. They gradually increased in complexity, which was a great way to build on my coding skills. 

The first project used HTML and CSS, the second was with Javascript, the third involved combining HTML, CSS and Javascript, and the fourth was full-stack, usingRails and Redux

The fourth project was definitely the most challenging, but also the most rewarding. I created a video game database, using Rails for the server-side coding,  Redux, JS and JSX for the front-end, and then CSS to style everything. The end product brought together all the coding languages and technical skills I’d developed throughout the course.

What are your plans for the future? 

I’m working through the career toolkit that the Academy Xi Career Support Program provides, which is helping me polish up my resume and cover letter. I’ve also got all my projects presented and narrated in Github, so I’ve got a portfolio that I’m really pleased with. 

Before the course started, I was contemplating also doing a degree in Software Engineering, but the fees are really high and I don’t want to take on such a big loan. I know that most people go from Academy Xi Transform courses straight into industry, so why not me? I’m going to continue working with the Career Support Program and start applying for jobs – hopefully I can land a programming role soon. 

Would you recommend Academy Xi? 

Speaking from my experience with the Software Engineering course, definitely. The course was challenging and a challenge is always a good thing. My mentor was friendly, helpful and supportive. If you want to pick up full-stack coding skills in a short space of time, I’d say go for it. 

 Want to become a full-stack developer and learn the works of front-end and back-end web development just like Ange? Checkout our Software Engineering: Transform course. 

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