From Dewey Decimal to Developer | How Seattle Alumni Stephen Holmes Changed His Career

  • Worked as a Library Technician
  • Yearned for a career change without the time or expense of going back to school
  • Was unsure whether the structure of bootcamps was right for him
After Dojo:
  • Has newfound self-reliance and problem solving skills
  • Works as a Front End Developer
  • Dreams of building information systems from a technical, social, and inclusion perspective
Program: Three Full-Stack Bootcamp in Seattle, WA

The experience of struggling with the material and working together to find a solution was the best way to learn coding because you either found a solution and felt a boost of self-confidence or consult with one of the instructors so you didn’t waste time going in circles trying to find a solution.

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

I’m 36 years old and a Seattle native. I enjoy baking pizzas, my specialty is a Hawaiian pizza with caramelized pineapple, and playing guitar. Prior to the bootcamp, I was working as a librarian technician, which involved a lot of customer service, maintenance of the physical collection, and ensuring that the online catalog was correct.

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

I was interested in making a career change. I had some basic coding experience and knew that I wanted to move into a technical field.  After researching post-Bachelor degrees, I was frustrated by how expensive and time consuming the process would be. Bootcamps seemed to offer an alternative path to build technical skills in a fraction of the time.

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

Not knowing if the structure was ‘right’ for me and whether the program would teach me what I needed to know to find a career in tech. I researched some of the Seattle area bootcamps and people’s experiences job hunting after graduation. In general, it seemed that bootcamps are all about the effort you put into it. 

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

I attended an Open House and enjoyed the conversations I had with some of the students and instructors. The environment was friendly and inviting, and I was pleased with the student demographic. I left that Open House feeling good and excited!

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

I signed up pretty close to the deadline so I was trying to get everything in order. There’s a lot to do to get organized for the bootcamp. I spent the weekend prior to the start date doing the pre-course work, which involved some reading, very simple coding exercises, and an introduction to algorithms. It felt like preparing for the first day of school. I even did a little bit of “back-to-school” shopping and bought a notebook and pens.

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

The first few weeks of the program were about getting used to the schedule and building my coding stamina. I was typically one of the first people on campus and really enjoyed that quiet time to ease into the day, especially for the more interactive algorithm sessions, lectures, and group work.  

The biggest struggle I had, especially in the beginning, was trying to learn and memorize everything. It was overwhelming trying to understand and apply everything, which was unrealistic. Over time, you realize there’s some code that you internalize and other code that you just need to understand conceptually.

How did you overcome the obstacles or struggles you faced?

Failure.  Every instructor talked about the importance of failure in learning how to code.  The Dojo created an environment where failure was not only okay, but was encouraged. The experience of struggling with the material and working together to find a solution was the best way to learn coding because you either found a solution and felt a boost of self-confidence or consult with one of the instructors so you didn’t waste time going in circles trying to find a solution.

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

On Thursdays at the Bellevue campus, there’s a midday break where students are encouraged to step away from coding and relax. There was always a game of Werewolf going on. I only played a few times, but it was fun to hear the reaction of the players whenever they found a werewolf or accidentally killed a villager.

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

Towards the end of the bootcamp, I felt very confident in my skills. I was unsure of job prospects since I hadn’t spent time looking at job boards or researching company websites.

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

The most important skill I learned at the bootcamp was self-reliance and the ability to work through a problem, both creatively and experimentally.

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

Job hunting wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I started off slow but once I got into a routine the process became automatic. Even though I got a lot of rejections, I still felt that I was making progress and building connections to potential future jobs.

I’m now working as a Frontend Developer for Fluke Corporation.  I work on the company’s website and build digital marketing assets. There’s a lot of variety that keeps things interesting: one day I might work on a product page for our Polish language site and then next build a customer survey email.

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

I have two pieces of advice: 

  1. 14 weeks is shorter than it seems so don’t wait until the end to think about job hunting.  Reach out to career services earlier and often to prepare a resume and portfolio.
  2. The most important thing is to understand that job hunting is a numbers game. In the first two weeks after graduation, I applied to over 70 jobs and it took weeks to hear back from them all.  

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

I would like to be in a full-stack developer role but beyond just coding. I’m interested in applying information theory and accessibility into the design and implementation of information systems.  I’m not sure what that looks like, if it’s freelance work or something else, but I want to build systems from a technical, social, and inclusive perspective.

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.

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