The most important thing is to never give up, never give in to circumstances, believe in yourself, and to soldier on, no matter what’s in your way.
Success in the military often hinges on a service member’s ability to adjust to and improvise in fluctuating circumstances. Success in business and technology works much the same way, albeit in a much lower-risk environment than military operations. Exercising one’s initiative in changing landscapes and new challenges is elemental to strong character.
Larry Overman served in the US Coast Guard for Fourteen years, and also earned a Master’s Degree in Information Systems Management. He decided to enroll in Coding Dojo to better prepare himself for the massive shifts in the Business of Technology. But even in completing the full-stack program, Larry found it necessary to adapt to changing conditions to accomplish his goals—and in doing so, he made some unusual decisions that paid off.
A Disabled Veteran, Larry was looking for a more meaningful occupation after focusing on Network Engineering. While looking for educational opportunities that would work with his military stipend, he came upon Coding Dojo.
I wanted something different. In Network Engineering, you sit behind a desk and you wait for things to break. Then you go have to go fix it. I wanted to be the person to make or to build the stuff and hopefully not make it break. I was told I could find any school I wanted, and to be sure they took the GI Bill. All of a sudden Coding Dojo pops up and then bam, I’m like, okay. Three full stacks—great. I put in my application on Friday, and they [Coding Dojo] called me on Friday and we went through the interview process. Monday I was here. It just went that quick.
Larry’s IT background was a strong credential for success at Coding Dojo, but even he admitted to some mild doubts before he started the program. But he turned those doubts into incentives, and recognition of real opportunities.
Would I be able to accomplish this course? Would I be able to learn the expectations? Still, to this day, I’m learning, and it seems like a constant treat that I’m going to be learning something new every day. Which is fantastic, because I believe using your mind every day is the greatest thing. If you’re doing mundane tasks well then well, either you’re learning or not doing anything. So I love learning, and here I am.
In starting the program, Larry ran into some logistical issues. During the first week he was staying in Purdy, near Gig Harbor, Washington, approximately 53 miles from Coding Dojo’s Bellevue campus. On normal days, the commute from Purdy to Bellevue takes nearly two hours, and that doesn’t take into consideration the Seattle area’s famously-congested rush hours. From Larry’s regular home in Seabeck, the commute was close to twice as long.
In light of the curriculum’s demanding schedule, students find themselves coming in earlier and staying later into the evening if they’re working on a specific project. The compressed timetable spurred Larry to make an extraordinary change in his living conditions.
I was like, “I can’t afford this. I can’t do this. It’s just too much money.” I was going through two tanks full of gas a week. And my car is a newer car and, well, I don’t want to put that much money into it. So I stopped doing that and I started sleeping in my car. I’d come here and stay in my car all week and go home on Fridays. Sometimes I was here until 10:00 at night. By the time you’re done, even if you’re thinking about going home, it’s really kind of pointless if you’re going to be back here at 9:00 and all you’re really doing is sleeping. So I made my car work.
Larry faced what some would consider adverse circumstances with a steady attitude of positivity and quiet persistence. Between working out and showers at a nearby Planet Fitness, he pushed through the three-full-stack program and eventually obtained a Black Belt for his work with Python. After obtaining his Master’s degree through an online university program, Larry found working with actual human classmates to be mutually beneficial, as they helped each other with some of the stickier parts of HTML, CSS, Python, C#, and MEAN..
There were times I got up and went over to Python Stack after I was in C# and helped a couple cohort members who fell behind and needed a little more assistance, I went over and gave them a hand. Then some of the other people that I didn’t know if they asked. That’s the reason I chose not to do the online portion: I wanted to be engrossed in it. I wanted to be able to get my mindset and focus on it and not worry about what’s around me when I’m at home or anything else. An online degree just gives you the education, the understanding, but you don’t really make any friends.
By the time Larry’s graduation came around, he felt confident about taking on the new challenge of creating powerful algorithms, and not just cleaning up the messes that others left. After he sold his house in Port Orchard he purchased a toy hauler—basically an RV with souped-up living quarters—with the intention of living freely on the road. His Coding Dojo experience gave him a realistic ambition that fits his new lifestyle comfortably, and he’s convinced that with the appropriate attention and hard work, anyone who learns at Coding Dojo can chart their own future.
I sold my house to live in a toy hauler. So now I just want to travel the country in the toy hauler and be a remote developer. If it wasn’t for me living in my toy hauler, my expenses would have been drastic and I would’ve never been able to succeed here, but luckily I made that change. It also made me realize what I actually need in life. Stick with the curriculum as much as possible so you can get the most out of it and be on track with everybody else. Then go opposite of that later, on your own time.
Are you interested in how we can help you chart your own future? Or are you a veteran who wants to use your GI Bill benefits for coding bootcamp? Get in touch with a Coding Dojo representative today to learn more! If you’d like to watch the full video interview with Larry, you can do so below: