Mandy Wells-Lakeland was working as a QA analyst for AKQA when she decided she wanted more. With a passion for coding, experience working with computers, and a desire to become a web developer, Mandy’s main roadblock was figuring out how to switch roles.
She considered getting a master’s degree — but with a full-time job and two young children at home, she feared that she would have very little time left to spend with her family.
When a friend recommended Monash University Coding Boot Camp, Mandy knew she had found her perfect fit — so she enrolled in the six-month program and got to learning.
Projects turned personal endeavors
Toward the end of the boot camp, Mandy worked on a solo project aimed at simplifying the grocery shopping process. As a working mother of two, she was spending a lot of time planning and creating shopping lists — and she wanted to change that.
Her solution? A web app called Dine In At Home. “Having a pen and paper with you while you shop is just too much,” Mandy explained. “With this app, people are able to add items to the list, cross off items, and share lists with other people. It makes grocery shopping much easier.”
Mandy also included a feature where you can upload recipes to generate a shopping list of necessary ingredients. Lists are easily shareable, so Mandy can send her husband to do the grocery shopping without worry. If she forgets to tell him to buy a certain item, she can simply add it to the list and he’ll see it.
“I just wanted to create something that would save time,” Mandy said. “Grocery shopping is very boring and time-consuming, but the app makes it more interesting and saves time.”
Looking ahead, she’d like to build a feature that allows shoppers to input items they already have in their kitchen — so if a recipe calls for flour but they already have that ingredient at home, the app won’t add it to the list. Mandy would also like to allow shoppers to upload their own recipes to reference when they go grocery shopping.
Finding the right fit
Throughout the boot camp, a supportive team of trainers, tutors, and career counselors all helped learners achieve their goals. One of Mandy’s tutors even helped her with additional training after the boot camp was over and still keeps in contact with learners. Her career counselor, Rita, was also a huge help.
“When you’re applying for jobs and nothing is coming out of it, sometimes you can get really depressed,” said Mandy. “But every time I spoke to Rita, I would feel so motivated and energetic and ready to keep applying.”
Her family also helped keep her motivated both during and after the boot camp, specifically her husband. “He was very supportive and encouraging while I was studying at the bootcamp,” she said. “Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my studies.”
Mandy’s persistence paid off not long after the boot camp. She was working at Victoria University as a QA web tester — and while the job was fine, she wanted to do something else. She found a position as a web application developer/tester and knew it would be the right fit.
“I could continue using my testing experience and skills while also developing skills in coding and development,” she said. “It’s hard to find applicants with a good balance of both, so they felt I fit right in, too.”
Today, Mandy works at Orygen: a nonprofit organisation that specialises in youth mental health and has partnerships with universities in Australia, Canada, and the United States. There, she focuses on optimising an online platform called MOST (Moderated Online Social Therapy).
“The website allows people from ages 15 to 25 to take an assessment to determine what kind of therapy they need,” Mandy explained. “Then they can interact with therapists, clinicians, and career counselors.”
This resource provides people with information, breathing exercises, tasks, and more to help with their mental health and connect them with certified professionals from the comfort of their own home.
Mandy hopes to stay with Orygen for a while, and plans on finishing up her grocery shopping app in the future. For now, she’s enjoying working for a company with a meaningful purpose and flexible hours that allow her to spend more time with family.
Looking to redefine your future? Explore the Monash University Coding Boot Camp today.