After Traveling the World as a Flight Attendant, Keyanna Xu Landed in a New Software Development Career
When Keyanna Xu completed her undergraduate degree in international finance, she was immediately hit with a travel bug. Unsure of what career path to follow, and struck by a desire to explore, she moved from California to Hong Kong and taught English for a year. After she returned, she became a flight attendant for American Airlines.
The airline job was fun for her, and she was able to see the world. But once she became pregnant, she realized she wanted more from her career.
“It was something that I struggled with throughout my time at American Airlines—knowing that I could do more,” said Keyanna. “But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my daughter that I really became motivated to make a change.”
Keyanna made the decision to stay at work and simultaneously enroll in the The Online Coding Boot Camp at UCLA Extension.
Embracing the flexibility of an online program
Although the course was completely remote, the classroom was still “live,” held through video meetings. This allowed Keyanna to maintain the structure of a class setting—deadline reminders, group projects, one-on-one tutoring sessions, and more—without needing to physically be on campus.
The online setting allowed her the freedom and flexibility she needed to complete the course within her unpredictable travel schedule, while providing accountability and support.
“I wanted to be reminded when an assignment was due and have regularly scheduled access to instructors,” said Keyanna. “It was really nice to be able to have that extra support and guidance throughout such a difficult boot camp, especially while I was juggling so many other things. The live online class allowed boot camp to fit into my life, without requiring me to quit or hire a babysitter.”
Pushing her way through challenging work
The material was a serious challenge, especially as a student without any prior coding experience.
Keyanna admits to shedding a few tears of frustration along the way, but she owns her authentic feelings. “I wasn’t ashamed at all,” she said. “It was the toughest material I had ever attempted learning, and I wasn’t embarrassed to ask for help or clarification.”
For the final group project, she worked with two other students to create a Craigslist-inspired application for renting items that are notoriously expensive to purchase. It featured a filter search function and a chat function so users could speak to renters with any inquiries or questions. She was extremely impressed with how kind and supportive her instructor and TAs were throughout the process. Without a doubt, Keyanna felt they went above and beyond the duties of their jobs.
As a newbie developer, she quickly became a mentee of her instructor, Mike Odom, with whom she still keeps in touch today. She has even continued to book one-on-one tutoring and interview prep sessions with him since boot camp—and she stays in contact with some of her TAs as well.
Finishing strong—and landing an exciting job
Keyanna completed the boot camp as one of only four women in her class. Not long after the program ended, she attended a seminar led by a representative from Wayfair, a popular furniture e-commerce company. Even though the position was based on the other side of the country, in Boston, the opportunity piqued Keyanna’s interest.
She discussed the possibility of relocation with her husband, and he encouraged her to apply anyway—and she ended up landing the job! After a three-month transitional period at Wayfair, she has been placed on her permanent team at the company, and so far she is thrilled with the job.
“I have good feelings towards the whole boot camp experience,” said Keyanna. “Even though it was hard, I am so grateful for the connections I’ve made and everyone who helped me along the way. The support system was amazing. There are so many times when I could have quit or made the excuse that it wasn’t the right time, but I had a strong desire to pursue this career, and I pushed myself to finish. That was the key, having grit.”