From IT Manager to Web Developer: How Kelli King Pivoted to Pursue Her Passion


When Ohio native Kelli King enrolled in The Ohio State University Coding Boot Camp, she was already a successful IT project services manager. For 15 years, she’d worked in software development, starting as a quality assurance analyst and eventually working her way up the corporate ladder to management. As she strengthened her skill set, Kelli was promoted to managing a software development team and worked with teams responsible for iteration and release management, quality assurance, and production support. 

“Management had its unique challenges and rewards, and I enjoyed that,” Kelli said. “But after a while, I found myself missing the hands-on development work.”

Eager to speak the same language as web developers, Kelli had been interested in taking a coding course for some time. However, as a mom of two young children, she could never find the right time to commit to a program — until COVID-19 hit. 

“We were at the point in the pandemic when we knew this wasn’t going away, and I thought, ‘Well, I could just keep doing what I’m doing, or I could learn a completely new skill set in six months,’” she said. “It was finally the perfect time.”

Finding balance 

When the boot camp began, Kelli was still working as an IT project services manager while also taking care of her children. The boot camp occasionally felt like a second full-time job, and Kelli found it challenging to balance the two responsibilities while also taking care of her kids at home. 

Eventually, she fell into a rhythm — first thing in the morning, she’d make sure her kids had everything they needed for their remote school day, and log into her full-time job. Then, Kelli would take periodic breaks to review her boot camp course material, or do homework during her longer lunch break. She also set up a workspace in her basement that she could escape to after dinner for night class or to study. 

“My husband was so supportive in taking over a lot of my responsibilities and giving me time to focus on the boot camp,” said Kelli. “It made a big difference.” 

Mastering virtual learning and time management 

At first, Kelli was hesitant to try virtual learning since she wasn’t sure whether she would thrive in a remote environment. As the boot camp went on, though, she found classes to be very engaging — and before long, she was excelling in her coursework. 

“It’s nice to have your brain stimulated by something new, especially in the midst of a pandemic and a job you’ve been doing for a while,” she said. “I loved being able to build new skills and learn something I had been interested in for a long time.”

Despite having a busy schedule, Kelli was excited to log on for class each night. Since the course was fast-paced, she worked hard to make sure she wasn’t falling behind — even if that meant pulling late nights or blocking off her schedule for more study time. 

Collaborating with classmates, one project at a time

Over the course of the boot camp, Kelli had weekly homework assignments and three group projects where she demonstrated newfound skills. The projects helped her connect the dots with the smaller homework assignments, and gave her an opportunity to collaborate with her classmates. 

“The coursework mimicked real-world scenarios to show us how things really work in software development,” Kelli said. “We had to collaborate and come up with an idea, then scope out how we would approach the work.”

For Kelli, the projects were fun opportunities to apply the concepts she had learned in class. First, Kelli and her team developed Taco Adventure, a generator that randomly suggests taco and beer pairings. They also created the LibMaker 3000, a play on Mad Libs that generates a story after the user inputs various words.

For the last project, Kelli and her team wanted to tackle a problem that everyone faces: going to dinner but not wanting to pick the restaurant. So, they created IDC Eats, an app that picks where to eat so you don’t have to. Drawing on data from Yelp, the app uses your location to suggest local restaurants while taking dietary and cuisine preferences into account. 

Looking back, Kelli couldn’t be more grateful for these experiences. “I was able to demonstrate what I had learned through the websites and apps we created,” she said. “It was amazing to see how close I’d gotten with my peers by working with them in the virtual classroom.” 

Landing a new role at Loop

A month before the boot camp ended, Kelli quit her job so she could focus on securing a new tech role. “I felt that if I didn’t quit my job by the time the boot camp ended, I would just stay where I was,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to focus on finding a new job.” 

Kelli knew it was time to pivot to a position in web development. Throughout the boot camp, she had thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of learning to code — and now, she wanted to apply her newly sharpened skills on a daily basis.

As she started searching for jobs, Kelli regularly checked in with her Career Services counselor, who helped Kelli better understand and define her strengths. “She was super supportive and empathetic, and really showed me how I fit into the job market,” Kelli shared. 

One day, while scrolling through LinkedIn, Kelli commented on her boot camp instructor’s job update. He had landed a role at Loop, a returns app for Shopify brands. A manager at Loop saw Kelli’s comment and reached out to her — and after a few weeks of interviewing, Kelli landed a job as a support specialist on the engineering team, in the same office as her boot camp instructor. Today, she works in a role that allows her to organically build and develop her coding skills, with the opportunity to transition into a full stack developer. 

“I feel so fortunate that I found this job,” said Kelli. “Every day at Loop, I’m surrounded by some of the smartest, kindest, and most dedicated people I’ve ever worked with. I can honestly say that I really enjoy the work I do.”

Coming full circle

On paper, Kelli transitioned from a management role to an entry-level role in web development, which some may consider to be a backwards step. But Kelli feels like she was finally promoted to her dream job. 

“I was told by past mentors that I would just keep moving up, and that I didn’t have to learn technical skills. But that’s not what I wanted,” she explained. “While some people may question my decision, I couldn’t be happier with where I landed. The boot camp helped me figure out what I wanted to do and achieve a better quality of life. That’s all I can ask for.”

Interested in kickstarting an exciting new career in web development? Check out The Ohio State University Boot Camps today.


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