Breaking the Mold: My Journey To Become A Software Developer

By Ryan Smith, Codeup Alumnus

Whenever I tell someone that I’m a software developer, I generally get the surprised “You? You’re a software developer?”.

I, like many others that have graduated from Codeup, don’t fit the mold most people think of when they think of people in tech.

To be honest, I can barely believe that I am one as well. Throughout 12 years in school, I was a straight C or D student when it came to math or science and wasn’t super excited about college. When I graduated, instead of going to college, I became a missionary in Colombia for two years. Colombia was an intense, immersive experience and I figured that when I got back to the States I would try out college. The results? I lasted a semester in college and did horrible in my science class. My first week in college and I called a Marine Corps recruiter to let him know that I would be joining as soon as possible. College just wasn’t for me. A week after my first semester and I was in boot camp. I spent the next 5 years in The Marine Corps mostly as a military working dog handler, trainer and instructor. It was honestly the best job I ever had.

Unfortunately, the military had other plans for me that didn’t involve working with dogs, so I got out and worked as a private security dog handler at the Baghdad embassy for a short time. I figured this was the next logical step. I came to find out that the job sounded good on paper, but sitting at a guard shack for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, left me feeling unfulfilled and wanting more out of my life. A week before going back to Baghdad for the last time, I was toying with the idea of coding and came across Codeup. I was accepted into the program a couple of days later and left for Baghdad and started once I returned. Compared to all my life experiences, Codeup was mentally one of the hardest things I’ve accomplished. But if I can do it, so can you. What would have taken me years and years to accomplish, took me about 5 months. Less than two weeks after I graduated Codeup I was offered a job as a software developer at a well-known company where I’ll start in about a week.

The decision to go to Codeup, give it my all and come out the other side a software developer- will affect my life in every way and also that of my future family. I’m grateful for all the staff and instructors there and thankful that I don’t just have a graduation certificate, but the actual skills I need to succeed for the rest of my life.