- Master’s degree in Information Systems
- Worked in IT and as a Barber
- Unsatisfied with his career
- Developed grit, determination, and was not afraid to fail
- Triple Red Belt in Python, C#/.NET, and MEAN
- Landed a job as a Salesforce Developer & Administrator with Cognixia USA
Program: Three full-stack bootcamp in Chicago, IL
“It was a good struggle and great networking. After some frustration comes some satisfaction, and then repeat.“
What were you doing (professionally) before the bootcamp?
I worked as a STEM Integration Specialist, Program Manager in IT Education, High School IT Teacher, and as a barber. I’ve always loved technology, which led me to earn a Masters in Information Systems. Then I worked as a Network Admin because I love configuring things, getting stuck, and the excitement when a configuration works.
I also love cutting hair as a barber and sharpening my skills by watching videos on YouTube or Instagram to get better, get new ideas, etc. It’s like an artist perfecting his art!
Beyond the desire of learning to code, why did you decide to enroll in a coding bootcamp?
While working in tech, I loved the freedom and laid back attitude of coders. It was like they had special treatment because they had the ability to work from home without any issues, wear jeans, shorts and sandals to work…not to mention the top pay that they received.
I also admired the way that developers were able to solve problems and regretted not paying more attention in my coding classes. I also was unhappy with my other jobs and wanted a change.
I tried to do self study and I took some classes at local community colleges, but I was always too busy to do homework or projects. So, I needed an intense all-day option such as a coding bootcamp. On the computer networking side of IT, there were always bootcamps for Microsoft and Cisco Certifications, but then I searched for coding bootcamps and decided to take the leap.
What fears or doubts were holding you back from enrolling? How did you get over them?
I wasn’t sure about quitting my job for 4-6 months to complete the bootcamp. Ultimately, I actually ended up resigning for a different reason and instead of looking for a job in one of my past areas, I decided that this was the time for me to learn code.
I also feared that learning code at a bootcamp would be similar to the way that I was taught at a university or college. It was dry, boring, and uninteresting. I got over those fears by researching bootcamps and also my visit to Coding Dojo really helped me.
What sealed the deal on Coding Dojo? Why did you choose us over other programs?
Coding Dojo taught 3 full stacks. The Program Manager Becky was very helpful with her communication, inviting me to an open house, following up, etc. I felt very comfortable hanging out at the Dojo for a few hours, having lunch with students, observing Instructor Ryan’s and Instructor Adrian’s class. Also, the financing option that I was offered helped a lot.
What was it like getting ready for the bootcamp? How did you prepare?
I was very nervous, excited, and all of the above. The first day of the bootcamp was about a week and a half after I applied. That made me nervous, but it also gave me a boost to get started and not overthink my decision. I prepared by reading reviews about bootcamps. Not all of the reviews were positive but they did help me to make my decision.
Walk us through your first few weeks in the program. What were parts you liked? Parts you struggled with?
The first few weeks were exciting and scary! I liked that the Web Fundamentals class was in one room while the rest of the classes were out in an open area. I think that participating in daily algos right away would have frightened me! Also, it was a great feeling of accomplishment moving from the Web Fundamentals to the main area where Python, C#, and MEAN were being taught.
How did you overcome the obstacles or struggles you faced?
One main struggle that I had was being on-time every day because I lived close to Indiana and the commute was a struggle. I would get there very close to algo time so I wasn’t that late. I struggled a lot with the syntax of coding. Sometimes I would stay very late and sit with TA Louis or TA Chris and get a better understanding of coding objectives, logic, syntax, etc. I would also ask other classmates, teachers, and classmates that were further along than me.
One main obstacle that I overcame is when I failed Python. I was so disappointed in myself. I’ve taken many classes before, but never failed any of them. However, my second go-round in Python gave me a deeper understanding of the language and the coding process. When I repeated the course I relaxed more, treated the course like I was new again on the first day and I did all of the assignments and projects all over again.
When I took the test at the end again, I passed it on the first try! That gave me confidence to move on to the next stack, C#, which wasn’t a breeze but it reminded me of Python so I was also able to pass the class on the first try.
Do you have any fun anecdotes to share about your time in the bootcamp? Make good friends? Fond memories?
I made some great friends while at the Dojo, one was Branden. We drank this special tea that I purchased together often. The tea didn’t have any caffeine but it was very spicy and it woke you up! Bella, Tayo, Ronny, Kelly, Sheldon, the TAs, teachers, etc. made the time there very enjoyable. Ryan, Adrian, and Anne all have fun personalities and a great sense of humor. I’ll never forget Adrian’s sense of humor, Mr. Nibbles, Demos after dark, etc. Ryan also had a great sense of humor.
When your graduation date was approaching, how did you feel about your skills and job prospects?
I was going through a lot in my personal life during my time at Coding Dojo. I felt the normal pressure of finding a job, but a lot of other pressures too. I felt that I needed more practice. Not because of the curriculum or projects, but just to increase my comfort level.
I was nervous about starting the job hunt again and with a low salary, but I also felt confident that my salary would increase quickly after gaining work experience. Also, since I have prior experience in IT, I was nervous that my experience would potentially cause issues.
Beyond the coding expertise, did the bootcamp give you anything else?
It gave me motivation, GRIT, determination, and not being afraid to fail. With coding, failure is a part of learning!
How did the job hunt go? Where did you land a job?
It was the holiday season when I graduated so hiring was slow. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which drastically lowered my confidence of landing a remote job during the pandemic.
Then an email about the JUMP Program at Cognixia came from my Career Services Manager Donald. I remembered him mentioning the program during one of our Career Week sessions.
What advice do you have for others who are interested in coding bootcamps or who are just starting one?
I would say sign up! It was a good struggle and great networking. Stick with it. After some frustration comes some satisfaction, and then repeat.
We had some great times hanging out at the Dojo. In Chicago, The Dojo is in a great area called River North. There are many great restaurants and businesses, plus it’s close to downtown Chicago, the lakefront, and some nice parks.
When you get frustrated, pause for a moment, take a walk, grab some tea, coffee, or snacks. Make the best of it as well because the time goes very fast! Lastly, keep practicing!
What are your goals or dreams for the future, say 5 or 10 years from now?
In 5 to 10 years I hope to be a high paid IT consultant, own some barber shops, and be able to work anywhere in the world!
If you are interested in learning how to code so you can make your dreams a reality, Coding Dojo offers accelerated learning programs that can transform your life. We offer both part-time and full-time online courses, as well as onsite (post COVID-19) programs. We also offer financing options, scholarships, and other tuition assistance programs to help you with financial barriers.
Whether you’re unsatisfied with your career, or just want to invest in yourself and your future, there is no better time than the present! If you’re interested, use this link to schedule a 15-minute exploratory session with one of our Admissions representatives today.