From Bootcamp to Bootcamp; How I found purpose through coding

May 30, 2019 | Alumni Stories

When I was 17 years old an Army recruiter came along and convinced me that the military was a good choice and could afford me many great opportunities in life. At the time I was living a carefree life with a close friend. I hadn’t considered what the next year of my life would look like, let alone the next decade. I didn’t really see myself as a soldier, but I was strongly encouraged to enlist and so I did. 

To be honest, the next four years were pretty miserable for me. I hated getting up at six every morning to be on time for Physical Training. I resisted the formal structure of everything, from marching in formation to folding my socks a certain way. 
The abrupt change to the way I had existed before the military resulted in what felt like a state of shock that lasted for four years. Finally, the time came and I was discharged. I was free to do whatever I wanted to do, and for the first time in life I realized that I had choices to make that would shape my future. 
The military would pay for me to attend college as well as my living expenses. The only problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted to do and it took me years to figure it out. 
I spent the next few years between college courses, working overseas as a contractor, frequently switching my degree plan to follow my latest interests whether that was graphic design or culinary school. 
A decade later I found myself making just enough money to pay bills. It felt like what I imagined a rat race must feel like – stuck and going nowhere fast. 

It was during this time that I began playing around with building websites. I was far from good at it, but I enjoyed it, a lot.

In April of 2018 I found out about coding bootcamps. I had never considered that I could make a living as a web developer. I didn’t even know what a web developer did. But it turns out that developers do the things that I enjoyed so much that I stayed up all night doing them. 

At the time I was managing a small cafe, making $11 an hour. I was also a part-time uber driver to help make ends meet. It sucked, big time.

 It was at this time that I made the best decision I’ve ever made. I quit that job and decided to focus on teaching myself how to code while I researched coding bootcamps that would allow me to use the remaining months I had left of my GI-Bill. 

It was important to me that the school be reputable, care about their students and have a solid track record of getting students a job. 

Codeup met all those requirements.

Before attending Codeup, I decided that if I was going to risk the time and money it would require to improve my life and take a chance on something I knew I truly enjoyed I’d have to do some things differently. I was going to have to give it 110% because if I failed at this I didn’t want there to be any possibility that it was because I held anything back.

I like to think that my military training kicked into overdrive.

While at bootcamp, I arrived hours early, sometimes turning on the lights myself. Many evenings I stayed late to study and work on projects. I took pride in everything I did, making each and every project better than the last and paying attention to the details. I stayed positive, took care of myself and made coding my life. I hardly watched any television at all, one of my favorite pastimes. I also developed some amazing friendships. I continuously modified my time and intentions at Codeup to shape the best outcome possible.

Needless to say, this time around I was ready for it and bootcamp was one of the best experiences of my life.  

Currently I work for Cognizant. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. It feels just like Codeup where I was constantly learning and loving every second of it. I work with all the friends I made at Codeup and the salary is… well, like everything else, a dream come true.

There’s absolutely nothing I would change about my experiences -Army bootcamp or coding bootcamp. I know without a doubt that because I attended both, I’m living my best life!

Dorian Wallace is a software engineer at Cognizant in Dallas, TX.