Coding Dojo Alumni: From Business Management and Marketing to A Full Stack Engineer

Refayat Haque is one of our Coding Dojo alumni of our Washington D.C. bootcamp. He used to work in the Business industry, changed careers, and now, he is currently a Full Stack Engineer with eGlobalTech, a Washington D.C. based boutique management consulting firm specializing in IT and Cyber Security Solutions for the Federal Government.

Find out how he considered a career change, end up as a Software Engineer and how he succeeded in his chosen field with the help of Coding Dojo.

What were you doing before you joined Coding Dojo?

I was working in Business Management and Marketing with my father, and he is an entrepreneur working in several industries such as textiles and radio media. Prior to working with my father, I was working in the International Affairs field in Washington D.C., more specifically at a Foreign Policy think-tank on South Asian issues.

Any experience in coding?

I studied International Affairs for my Bachelor’s and continued further studying this discipline in my Master’s, so it is safe to assume that I have absolutely no prior experience in coding. What got me interested in coding was the exposure to a close friend of mine who had recently completed a boot camp, and has just started working as a Test Automation Engineer. This friend of mine asked me to consider a career transition into coding and directed me to some online Ruby resources.

After doing a couple of the Ruby courses, in addition to Codecademy’s JavaScript courses, I was completely enamored with this art. My interest in coding became inexorable, and I just could keep myself from coding and learning more and more about the fundamentals of programming. A month after doing the Ruby and JavaScript courses it became unequivocal that I belong in this industry, and that I must do whatever it takes to learn enough to eventually find an opportunity as a Software Engineer.

Why did you choose Coding Dojo?

I picked Coding Dojo because of their superior value when compared to the two other coding boot camps in Washington DC. When examined against General Assembly and the Iron Yard (no longer in business), the course duration at the Coding Dojo is much longer, and more importantly, Coding Dojo offers a Full Stack course instead of having students decide whether they’ll specialize in purely Back or Front-end.

Additionally, the Coding Dojo teaches three separate stacks (Python, MEAN, Java), whereas other boot camps will teach only one or two. I find that it’s imperative for new students to be able to apply the fundamentals of programming (IE iterators, OOP, functions) in more than two stacks in order to demonstrate that they fully grasp the fundamentals and that they will not be constrained by differences in syntaxes when having to pick up new languages and frameworks.

Sound fundamentals are unarguably critical for one to become a self-sufficient and life-long learner, and in Software Engineering one must master the ability to learn new things quickly and effectively because languages and frameworks come and go, and changes in preferred technologies will occur more frequently in the future.

What were your expectations for Coding Dojo?

My expectation was that the Coding Dojo would teach me the fundamentals of programming and frameworks to the point that I can build applications on my own. Furthermore, I expected the Coding Dojo to assist me post-graduation in finding the ideal job opportunity. I’m happy to say that both these expectations were met resoundingly.

How was the experience at Coding Dojo?

My experience at the Coding Dojo was beyond fantastic; I will forever be indebted to the Dojo, especially the instructors and mentors. The instructors did a phenomenal job of guiding us in our journeys to become self-sufficient Software Engineers. It is really difficult for instructors to fulfill their roles well, as their roles demand that they guide the students without providing too much help, as providing too much help impedes our ability in becoming self-sufficient Engineers. The instructors at the Washington DC Dojo excelled at imparting knowledge in fun and interesting ways, not once in my four months there did I feel burdened to drive out to the Dojo every single day, as I was excited to learn new and innovative ways of building applications from the instructors.

The instructors go out of their way to ensure that the students are learning what they need to learn, all the while ensuring that they aren’t ‘mothering’ us and that we are working towards self-reliance. There were several instances where the instructors’ intuition picked up on the fact that I was struggling without me even having to tell them, and appropriately, they took some time from their regular responsibilities to help me understand complex algorithmic concepts.

Have you had challenges you meet and overcome in the bootcamp?

There was nothing at the Coding Dojo I found easy, everything we worked on was immensely difficult. However, our commitment to remaining focused and resilient got us through the material, in addition to, the expertise of the instructors in making sure we are learning as best, and as quickly, as we can, continuously monitoring our progress, and reinforcing the esoteric programming concepts in our minds.

What area of Coding Dojo do you think needs improvement?

The Coding Dojo should seriously consider switching from MEAN to MERN, React is a more popular front-end framework than Angular2 and has a larger discussion-base online, something we rely on when trying to understand the intricacies of a framework and debugging. Furthermore, the syllabus should cover more DevOps-y material around deployments and application maintenance in cloud services like AWS and Azure. The field of DevOps is growing, knowing basic DevOps technologies would benefit graduates in finding opportunities as a result of the improved marketability by virtue of having Full Stack and DevOps knowledge.

What do you think you would have missed if you didn’t sign up for Coding Dojo?

I would not have my current job and future career prospects in Software Engineering without the Dojo, and I would not have the amazing sense of self-fulfillment I have now.

How does Coding Dojo help you today and would still give influence on your life in the future?

The Coding Dojo helped me in getting to where I am today and is also helping me in retaining my position, in growing as an Engineer, and in bringing more value to my firm. As I continue to learn Software Engineering, I will only build upon the programming fundamentals I took away from the Coding Dojo, without my Dojo foundations I would have no passion and basis to build my career upon. I have not been as satisfied and content with an outcome of my career choice as I was when I learned that someone was willing to hire a Software Engineer with no coding work experience, and that was the ultimate testament to the success of the Coding Dojo methodology.

What do you think those who have uncertainties in joining Coding Dojo would expect and look forward to?

Those who have second thoughts about joining the Dojo should really take some time off to reflect on whether or not this is the best path for them. A lot of sacrifices need to be made to perform well at the Dojo and to get the most out of the experience. Personal and social life will most definitely take a serious hit, so your loved ones must be completely on-board with, and understanding of, the endeavor you’re about to embark on. Furthermore, one must be prepared to be under severe pressure and often frustrated as the course material is very difficult and strenuous if you are the kind of person to break under pressure you will need to prepare yourself accordingly and improve your mettle before enrolling at the Coding Dojo.

If you are enrolling solely for the financial well-being that Software Engineering may bring, you ought to reconsider. Coding Dojo students that are innately passionate towards, and enamored by, coding are the ones that do well and also help their peers do well. We decided to do this to satisfy our love for Software Engineering; the financial well-being is simply a bonus.

How would you compare yourself when you first stepped into Coding Dojo bootcamp with what you came to be when you left?

I came in as a student dedicated to becoming a bonafide Software Engineer, and I left the Dojo as a bonafide Software Engineer, a Software Engineer immune to the ‘Imposter’s Syndrome.’ 🙂

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