How I Transitioned From a Career in Music to Managing a Team of Engineers

The Cohort
Written by:
Nicole Tibaldi
Published on:
March 23, 2020
computer monitors with code in a dark room

Discover the journey of an App Academy graduate transitioning from a music career to managing a team of engineers, exploring the challenges and triumphs encountered along the way. Learn about the skills and experiences that facilitated this

Hi! I’m Nicole. I’m currently working as an Engineering Manager for Gatsby, and my specialization is in front-end engineering.

Before making my career transition, I earned a BA in Music Performance (I’m a classical clarinetist). I taught and performed music for a while before taking a more “stable ” job working in operations/management in the banking industry. I became interested in a career in engineering for a few reasons. First, there were a lot of manual tasks we did and queries we ran on the operations side of banking that seemed like they could be automated to make life easier, and I was curious how that might work. Additionally, I had just moved in with my partner, who was working as a data engineer at the time, and got my first up-close exposure to the field through him.

As my curiosity grew, I decided to start studying and applying to coding bootcamps, and ultimately chose App Academy because of the low acceptance rate (I wanted to study somewhere that set a high bar!) and positive feedback that I’d heard about the program and their ability to help folks find jobs.

I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing mentors in the time I’ve been working in this industry, and they’ve certainly helped me get where I am today. I’ve been mentored both formally, in company mentorship programs with a specific focus, which is especially helpful for those trying to grow a specific skill, and informally by my leads, managers, and more senior engineers. In addition to helping me solve engineering problems, they’ve also helped me form opinions about team processes, products I’ve worked on, how work should move through a team, and more.

I love my job because now, in addition to working on the technical side of a product, I also get to help shape the culture and process of the teams I work with.

It’s important to me to set my teams up for success by making their work clear and actionable, and by being empathetic and creating a team culture where everyone feels safe to learn, grow, and experiment.

I’m proud to have worked for some amazing companies with great team culture, but I know there’s always more we can do to improve. As a woman in tech, if there were one thing I could change for the women that come after me, I think it would be to make diversity (of all kinds!) more common and expected on every team. I try to contribute to this not only by interviewing and hiring diverse candidates, but also by mentoring and teaching other women, from school-aged girls who have never thought about a career in tech, to early-career engineers looking for advice on how to navigate their careers.

Attending App Academy, and ultimately securing a job in tech, has changed my life for the better: allowing me to have an intellectually challenging job, giving me a steady and secure income, and even allowing me to work from home so I can spend more time with my dog, and less time commuting :-). While it can be a tough job at times, I always want to help other women make the same improvements in their lives and careers.

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