Why I Took a Bet on Coding Dojo

The following is a contributed post from a recent Coding Dojo alum, Justin Christian. With a baby on the way, Justin made the 1,820 mile trek from Kansas City, Missouri to Seattle to participate in Coding Dojo’s 14-week full stack development program.

The Decision

When I first started looking into coding bootcamps, my fiance and I had just been surprised with a baby on the way. I was working a job that paid a little over minimum wage for a startup accelerator/co-working space, so I could go back to school for computer science. My fiance had just been offered a full-time position at an executive recruiting firm, but had not yet accepted.

I was barely making enough to pay for school and feed myself, let alone support a family. I already had a degree, so I could find an entry-level marketing job, but as a family, we would just be getting by. That’s not what I imagined for my family.

I had so many things going through my head. Are bootcamps truly worthwhile? How are we going to pay for this? Would I be prepared in just three months? If this doesn’t work out, what will we do?

These were all questions swirling around in my head, but two more years of school was simply not an option, so I took the leap.

The deal my fiance and I made was that if we were going to do this, I wasn’t going to go to just any bootcamp. I needed to be accepted into a top program. I researched dozens of bootcamps all around the country and we finally decided on Coding Dojo. The primary reason was that Coding Dojo teaches three full stacks in just three months.

The Program

On my first day at Coding Dojo, I walked into a room full of strangers. I never imagined I would consider them family by the end of the program, but today I would bend over backwards to help any of them succeed. We struggled together and we supported each other every step of the way. I would not have made it through Coding Dojo if it were not for my classmates.

I’m not going to sugar coat this. We all coded an average of 60-80 hours per week. If you don’t code this much, you won’t be successful at Coding Dojo. You have to do this if you want to go from knowing nothing about coding to mastering a full stack in just 3-weeks.

Each day, the schedule was lecture in the morning, coding, algorithms before lunch, and more coding. The more coding portion lasted till about 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM for me most nights. There was also an expert Tech Talk about once a week to give us perspective on what the industry has to offer. Early morning to about 6:00 at night, I could raise my hand and an instructor would be there to help.

Prior to the program, I had made it through one semester in computer science, which looking back now, was practically useless because in three days at Coding Dojo, we surpassed what it took me a whole semester to learn at a university. I was astonished and have never encountered a learning environment that supported such a fast learning pace.

The true value gained from Coding Dojo was not the ability to code. It was the ability to learn a coding language and be able to code on it in such a short period of time. By the third month, there were some students in my cohort that finished a full stack in 10 days. If that doesn’t get you a job, I don’t know what will.

The Journey

Three months ago, I left my fiance, friends and family behind to gain the skills needed to provide a better life for my soon to be family. 1,820 miles away from home, the sleepless nights and countless hours, the tears shed with my fiance over Facetime, the missed doctors appointments and the missed first Mother’s Day, three months seemed like an almost impossible length of time. Looking back now, it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but It was also the best decision I have ever made.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay an extra month after the program to prepare my portfolio/resume and fine-tune my interview skills like most students did. My fiance and I have too much to prepare for with our baby boy due on August 2nd.

But, even without the portfolio and resume prep, I’ve made the co-working space where I used to work my job search headquarters and on just the first day back, I have already received 3 contract offers from different companies for web-development work.I turned down these three offers, because I’m looking for full-time work.

Update – Job Offer!

Moving forward 20 days into the future, I had already attended 5 job interviews. Of those 5, I received a rejection from one because they wanted a mid-level developer, made it to the final stages and had a final interview scheduled for two, and from the last two, received job offers. I happily accepted an offer from Homebase.

Less than four months after leaving Kansas City for Coding Dojo, I more than doubled my salary and am working as Front-End MEAN Stack Developer. My fiance and I bet everything of Coding Dojo, and it’s a bet that paid off more than I could have ever imagined. My time at Coding Dojo has truly changed my life and has given my family a future I can be proud of.


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