From Cutting Boards To Crafting Code | How Bellevue Alumni Jake Sklarew Escaped His Kitchen Nightmare

Pre-Dojo:
  • Worked as a chef in Michelin-starred kitchens
  • Dabbled in learning to code with self-directed resources
  • Wasn’t confident the bootcamp would help him get a job
After Dojo:
  • Works as a Software Engineer for Starbucks
  • Has newfound confidence in his algorithm skills and interview performance
  • Loves his job and has open-ended career goals
Program: Three Full-Stack Bootcamp in Bellevue, WA
Testimonial:

When I was trying to apply for jobs before I had gone to the bootcamp, I ended up getting to do one interview and bombed the algorithm section badly.  During my interviews after going to the bootcamp, I crushed them with confidence, and even changed an interviewer’s mind about one of the algorithms in the process.

Tell us a little about yourself. Age, hobbies, passions, and what you were doing (professionally) before the bootcamp. 

I’m a 31-year-old nerd. I love drilling deep on subjects that interest me and learning as much as I can about them. I enjoy playing video games, music, and cooking.

Prior to the bootcamp, I was a chef working in Michelin-starred kitchens in San Francisco.

Beyond the desire of learning to code, why did you decide to enroll in a coding bootcamp? 

I wanted to switch careers. The restaurant industry is a nightmare. I was working 100 hours a week getting paid less than half what I do now. I’d always enjoyed coding but had never broken through the barriers of really getting comfortable with it.

What fears or doubts were holding you back from enrolling? How did you get over them?

I wasn’t confident enrolling would make the difference and allow me to get a job. After trying and failing to get an entry level job just through self-teaching, I decided I needed the extra boost.

What sealed the deal on Coding Dojo? Why did you choose us over other programs?

I looked at reviews for a number of different boot camps and Coding Dojo had great scores. In addition to that, the Dojo taught exactly the technology stacks I was interested in learning.

What was it like getting ready for the bootcamp? How did you prepare?

I was nervous and tried to get through the early material as quickly as possible to stay ahead.

Walk us through your first few weeks in the program. What were parts you liked? Parts you struggled with?

The first few weeks actually went a bit slower than I had expected after all the hype about how we needed to be ready to put in 80 hours a week and really stay on top of our coursework.  I understand this is a matter of not everyone being at the same point and not everyone learning at the same pace, but I’ll admit I was shocked when I found out a large number of the students seemingly hadn’t tried to complete the prerequisite course work after spending so much money on the course.  

That being said, the first couple weeks in Web Fundamentals was great. Somehow I had never actually learned the basics of HTML/CSS/Javascript, and they were intimidating on my own.  Once our instructor Bryanna showed us how simple divs, classes, ids, etc. are, it really opened up a world of possibilities in web design.

How did you overcome the obstacles or struggles you faced?

I stayed late a few nights and just strengthened my Google skills. Pretty much every problem I ran into, someone else had already solved at some point. It was just a matter of finding the right Stack Overflow post or blog about the issue I was having and applying it to the circumstances I was working within.

Do you have any fun anecdotes to share about your time in the bootcamp? Make good friends? Fond memories?

During the weekly activity hour when we’d take a break from coding and have fun, some friends and I had so much fun playing Werewolf with some other members of the Dojo that we ended up using it as a basis for our first group project. It was a blast, and it felt great making something that actually felt useful and successful toward our goals.

When your graduation date was approaching, how did you feel about your skills and job prospects?

I was worried about the difficulty of finding a job from my previous attempts, so I worked hard to get my course work done as quickly as possible to get a head start on applying. About two weeks before I graduated I started sending out applications, and I had applied to almost 200 jobs before I finally started getting a couple invitations to interview. The process is daunting, so I can’t recommend getting started early enough and being patient.

How did the job hunt go? Where did you land a job?

At the beginning, I didn’t get many positive responses, the rejections were just piling up in my inbox after sending out so many applications. However, I finally got to actually do some interviews, which went great. 

I ended up landing a job that I love working for Starbucks as an engineer with their back-end APIs.

What advice do you have for others who are interested in coding bootcamps or who are just starting one?

Put in the work. Paying the money doesn’t get you the job, it just gives you the resources to let you learn the skills necessary to get the job. If you don’t put in the effort and time to use those resources to learn those skills, you won’t have what employers are looking for when it comes time to apply for jobs. The Dojo staff mean it when they say you get out what you put into this program.

Beyond the coding expertise, did the bootcamp give you anything else?

The bootcamp definitely gave me confidence. I love that we started every morning with algorithms. Practicing those daily and getting comfortable performing at a whiteboard helped immensely with the interview process. When I was trying to apply for jobs before I had gone to the bootcamp, I ended up getting to do one interview and bombed the algorithm section badly.  During my interviews after going to the bootcamp, I crushed them with confidence, and even changed an interviewer’s mind about one of the algorithms in the process.

What are your goals or dreams for the future, say 5 or 10 years from now?

It’s very hard to say. I’m enjoying where I’m at currently and will have to see what aspects of the job I like more than others to figure out which direction I want to go.

If you are interested in learning how to code and starting the path to land a career that you love, Coding Dojo bootcamp 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. 

If you 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.

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