From Making Coffee to Crafting Code | The Story of Tulsa Alumni William Phipps Taking a Leap & Landing a New Career

Pre-Dojo:
  • Worked in construction and the service industry
  • Felt lost and was moving laterally in his career
  • Wanted to learn how to code, but struggled with self teaching options 
After Dojo:
  • Works as a Software Developer
  • Is comfortable with ambiguity, has great problem solving skills, and is confident in his ability to learn and grow
  • Wants to use his success to “pay it forward” through education, mentorship and guidance.
Program: Three Full-Stack Bootcamp in Tulsa, OK
Testimonial:

I had to take the leap into the unknown to find out what I was made of. I asked myself where I would be if I did take the jump, and I didn’t know. I asked myself where would I be if I didn’t, and I knew it was not where I wanted to be.

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

I am a 29 year old guy living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I love to ride bikes, learn new things, practice martial arts, and code. I try to keep my hobbies on a short list these days because I have alot of interest, and there is only so much time to code. Recently I’ve condensed my hobbies and interests to just two things: Tai Chi Chuan, my favorite form of martial conditioning, and C# coding in a .Net environment. 

Honestly, I was a bit lost before I began the bootcamp. I had moved laterally for many years across a few different industries. I worked a couple of jobs in construction, as well as in the service industry while I was “figuring it out.” I tried to find something that really clicked, but it was hard to find. 

In the year before I began the bootcamp, I was working part time as a barista at a local coffee shop, and taking intermittent contract positions with an international art installation as a technician. This gig had me working with programmers in many different industries, and gave me some insight into what life as a coder could look like. I wanted to learn more.

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

I had flirted with the idea of learning how to code for sometime and was curious what it was all about. I love technology and what it can enable us to do, so I wanted to learn more. I tried to direct my own education, but found that I was not able to apply the appropriate amount of discipline to move past the initial stages of learning into the principles of software design and function. It was so foreign to me, and I needed some help to get started in the right direction.  

I decided to join the Coding Dojo in order to force myself into an environment where I could dedicate myself to learning for an extended period of time. I needed the structure and guidance to dig deep into the code and figure out what was really going on. Ultimately, what guided this decision was a desire to learn, and a desire to be a part of the workforce in a more meaningful way. I wanted to challenge myself to grow personally, both intellectually and technically. I was also driven by a desire to provide real value to the economy. Technology has great potential, and I wanted to learn to leverage that potential to boost my life, and the lives of the people around me. 

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

The biggest fear that I had to face when I was considering enrolling with the Coding Dojo was that I wasn’t smart enough. Up until that point, I had very little exposure to software, and it had been years since I had studied any sciences or mathematics in any real detail. I was afraid that I would spend the money for school and not be good enough to make the cut in industry. I felt this could really set me back, and I wasn’t confident I could do it. 

I knew the only way to find out whether or not I could do it, was to try it. I had to take the leap into the unknown to find out what I was made of. I asked myself where I would be if I did take the jump, and I didn’t know. I asked myself where would I be if I didn’t, and I knew it was not where I wanted to be. To borrow from The Matrix, I took the red pill, and haven’t looked back.

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

The first reason I chose Coding Dojo was I liked your approach to learning. It seemed like the curriculum emphasized learning through struggle, and that struck a chord. I knew it was up to me to do the work, I just needed someone to help show me the way. Coding Dojo also emphasizes principles over content, which resonated with my pedagogical approach to learning. In any discipline, if you can learn the principles deeply, you can adjust to meet the needs of a given situation. If your learning is circumstantial, you can build up a false sense of confidence, and end up cracking under pressure.

The second reason I chose the Coding Dojo was the environment. I went to visit a few times before I made the call to join, and I found that I really enjoyed being there. It felt like the air was bristling with learning. The whiteboards were covered with cryptic diagrams and algorithms. The teachers explained that I would be learning this stuff week two. I had no idea what I was looking at, but the students there encouraged me, and told me I would. The staff was understanding and supportive, the teachers were smart. It seemed like they really enjoyed teaching, and authentically wanted to help me learn. 

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

I was intimidated. I knew the mountain ahead was going to be a tough climb, and I wasn’t sure I was ready. I felt like others may have had years of experience, and it was going to be a lot of work to catch up. I had a few weeks of time before day one, so I spent most of my time drilling algorithms. I went through the Coding Dojo pre-bootcamp content a few times, going through the motions, and trying to figure out how this language was working. This was one of the best decisions I made, and I learned a tremendous amount from those basic algorithms. I learned more about JavaScript in two weeks with The Dojo’s software than in the previous two months trying to learn on my own. 

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

The first couple of weeks in the program were intense. It was a lot to get used to, and I had a lot to learn. We started off with CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. I didn’t have much experience coding, so everything I learned was unusual, strange and unknown. I had to try things that didn’t work, over and over again. I had to invest in loss, before I could create things of value. 

We had algorithm sessions every morning, and this was the most challenging and interesting part. The algorithms taught me JavaScript, and I still use the principles I learned in those early sessions everyday in my job. Running through challenging language puzzles helped me develop my intuition as a programmer, and greatly inform how I look at code today. 

How did you overcome the obstacles or struggles you faced?

One of the things I really had to get used to, was being comfortable in the unknown. I had to be okay with only understanding a small piece of a problem, and trust that I could figure the rest out as I learned more. Some things that were obvious to others were not obvious to me, and I really had to take the time to learn the principles in order to gain scope of how software works. 

I learned to ask better questions. One such question I still use today is, “what problem am I trying to solve?” If I can figure out the requirements of a particular issue, then break down the whole into smaller and smaller steps, it can lead to inspired programming.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle I have to continually face is managing my own interest and engagement. It can be a challenge to hold multiple threads of relevant information in one’s mind, and still keep sight of minute details. This skill takes time and practice, and I am still learning how to be better. One thing is for certain however, is this skill was brought to test during my time at Coding Dojo.

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

My time at the Dojo, although intense, was a blast. It was a condensed learning period, but there was still time for card games and connection. I learned a lot from my cohort, and from the cohorts above me. It felt like we were a team, going through something difficult together. Many of the friendships I made during this time are still friends today. My only misgiving from this period of my life was the lack of a ping pong table at the Tulsa Dojo. It is my opinion that recompense should be made in the form of mandatory ping pong tables at every Dojo location :). 

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

I graduated during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. I felt confident about my ability to learn and grow as a Software Developer, but I was worried about the availability of opportunity due to the economic recession. Many of my friends in the previous cohort had not yet found jobs, and I was looking at a hyper-competitive job market beset with layoffs and furloughs. I was worried, but I was going to give it my best.

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

It was a tough market when I began my job hunt. I hit a lot of dead ends and it was hard to stay motivated. I began working part time at my old coffee shop to pay the bills, and tried my best to work on projects and algorithms everyday. I called recruiters and tried to make connections with people in my community. Covid restrictions made this even harder. I wasn’t able to meet people face to face, which made it harder to meet people in the industry. I applied to job after job with no luck. Three months of dead ends had me pretty discouraged. 

I admit that I had lost some faith that I would be able to find a job anytime soon. But I had enough to make rent, and I had time to code. I kept at it, and eventually I got a call from a recruiter I had connected with months before. There was an opening here in town and he thought I could make the cut. I was going to give it my all and make it happen. I did my research, read up on the company and went over my notes from my C# module. I was able to make a good impression with the managers, and ended up getting a second interview where I was hit with some challenging algorithms.

The bootcamp helped me meet the challenge. I landed the job, and now work as a Software Developer for a local FinTech company. 

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

Give it your all, stay motivated and stay positive. If you apply yourself to your learning day in and day out, you can make it. Everything that you need is between your ears, and learning how to use what you’ve got takes time. But with discipline, you can succeed. 

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

Absolutely. I felt the pedagogy of Coding Dojo to be both straightforward and honest. I understood from the start that I would get exactly the work that I put in, and it was my instructors job to help me achieve my goals. Along the way I picked up a number of problem-solving skills from my peers and instructors. I learned from skilled educators how to better interact with my peers. Towards the end of my education there, I also learned how to better help others along, without depriving them of the struggle requisite for growth.

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

Five years from now I hope to be an incredibly competent programmer. It is my intention to cultivate my skills in my particular stack day over day. I hope that I can add real value to my company, and with my success pay it forward through education, mentorship and guidance.

If you are interested in getting out of a rut by learning how to code and changing your career trajectory, 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.

dojo guide

Looking for a Career in Web Development?

Read our quick-start guide to becoming a Developer

  • Includes exclusive insight from a seasoned Web Developer
  • Uncovers the top career misconceptions holding you back
  • Highlights the must-have qualities all employers require
  • 89,615 downloads to date

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *