How Codeup Alumni are Helping to Make Water

Codeup Alumni Help Make Water featuring Jacqueline Murralles, James Murralles, Ted Zamarron, and Carlos Teller

Imagine having a kit mailed to you with all the necessary components to make contaminated water clean. Cool, huh? Four of our alumni are helping to make that possible by partnering with the non-profit Elequa to design a website for their Make Water program. With this project, these Codeup alumni have the potential to make a global impact: Jacqueline Murralles, James Murralles, Ted Zamarron, and Carlos Teller. 

How Elequa is Making a Difference

The Make Water program inspires, educates, and equips people that want to make a tangible difference in the world. Elequa puts together DIY kits with the tools to purify water and delivers them to people that need them, locally and abroad. This project is also given to students in the San Antonio area, who in turn are challenged to research, tweak, and further develop the kits to make them better and more accessible. These problem-solving challenges engage students in the STEM field, inspiring teamwork and collaboration while making a difference that they can be proud of: helping to provide clean water.

How Codeup Alumni are Making a Difference

Currently, the Make Water program lacks a platform to house and share the data gathered by students to improve the kits, while also challenging other community members for further development. They needed help with the gamification of these processes to make participation more engaging. That’s where Codeup alumni Jacqueline Murralles, James Murralles, Ted Zamarron, and Carlos Teller came in. They are helping Elequa to build an open-source application for the Make Water program that turns community participation into a game where users can level up as they contribute and collaborate through an array of real-world challenges in water research, coding, hardware innovation, and creative storytelling.

Did we mention that they are working on this project as volunteers, as Codeup alumni often do? Codeup students are always looking for ways to challenge themselves, sharpen their skills, and make a difference, and that continues after graduation. To see more of the projects our students have worked on (and what you can do, too, with Codeup), check out these capstone presentations.

Alumni Share their Journey into Web Development

Alumni Bridget Mills and Eddy Bautista Share their Journey into Web Development

Everyone starts somewhere. Many developers out there didn’t grow up wanting to code. It’s something they fell into over time, much like two Codeup alumni, Bridget Mills and Eddy Bautista. These two software developers graduated from our Web Development class in December 2019. They came back for a virtual panel event to share their journey into web development and to give advice to people wanting to become a software developer.

 

What were you doing before Codeup?

Eddy had been a sales assistant for years and was a student at San Antonio College studying Kinesiology.

Bridget worked at a courthouse, but those career plans were altered after becoming a military spouse and moving. She went back to school for a degree in Information Technology (IT), specializing in System Engineering, and became an IT Specialist.

 

What led you to a career in coding?

When someone he knew mentioned coding, Eddy learned all he could and coded for three days using online courses and tutorials. He immediately knew this was what he wanted to do as a career. 

While Bridget was working at the lawyer’s office, a development team came in to help with court systems. She asked them questions and became fascinated by what they were doing. After deciding not to pursue law, she decided to go back to school for IT. Her job as an IT Specialist isn’t exactly what she had in mind, but her degree didn’t offer the coding experience necessary to become a developer, which was her true end goal. Even after moving to Hawaii and having two kids, that dream persisted. Her cousin, a developer, mentioned that some of her coworkers went to a coding bootcamp. With another kid and another move on the horizon, she decided she would enroll in a coding bootcamp when her family settled down in Texas. 

 

Why Codeup?

While researching how to become a developer, Eddy found Codeup. Our culture stood out to him, the admissions team was helpful, he liked that we offer help with the job search through resume assistance and interview training, and he really liked how plugged in we are to the San Antonio technology scene. He felt all the pieces coming together and could picture himself here.

For Bridget, it boiled down to the curriculum and hands-on experience. When she was in college, she learned a lot of theory, but didn’t get experience actually coding, which, as she learned the hard way, is what employers are really looking for. She looked into some options for coding bootcamps and Codeup stood out to her. It was big plus that even as a military spouse, she was able to use VA benefits. She loved our assistance with job placement, and noted that she had gone to school twice and neither college offered anything like that. 

 

What’s a typical day for you?

Currently, both panelists are working as developers for VIA Metropolitan Transit. Due to COVID-19, they’re both working from home.

Eddy usually starts his day early with a coding challenge on a website like Codewars. He has a virtual meeting with his mentor to discuss some code. For most of the day, they solve a problem or do some pair programming. They also have team meetings and daily standups.

Bridget is currently leading an Artificial Intelligence project with VIA that takes up most of her time. She usually has virtual meetings with members of her team, other teams at VIA, and contractors. She does documentation and uses programs to update the current status of her projects for the team to see. 

 

How is the work-life balance?

Coding is a hobby for Bridget. She takes her laptop with her from room to room, sometimes coding with her child in her lap. She loves it so much, she often works late unintentionally until her kids come in the room to check on her. Because of this, she doesn’t feel completely balanced but knows that it’s only because she loves it so much.

Eddy feels similarly, stating that when they do work late, it’s usually because they want to. The work-life balance has been good for him.

 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of attending Codeup’s Web Development program?

Bridget was nervous coming into Codeup, but it gave her everything she was looking for. Part of why she wanted to be a developer was because she thought they get to sit around alone, not having to interact with anybody. She very quickly realized this was not the case. “You have to speak up and you have to do it well, and often, with a lot of people. You’ll have to work hard, beyond the regular hours. Take advantage of all the resources. Schedule some meetups with peers to work together outside of class. It’s so worth it in the end. Just go for it!”

Eddy learned that keeping a part-time job is possible but really, really hard. He was one of the only students ever to finish Codeup while working a job, rushing to work right after class. He regrets doing that because he missed out on socializing and working together after hours. But when he had time, he always tried to work with other students to solve problems together, and encourages the same in others. “Break out of your comfort zone and don’t be scared to just start from where you are. The first couple weeks will be really hard, but learn to fall in love with the feeling of being stuck, because eventually you’ll be able to solve it.”

Bridget and Eddy are working together at VIA, but took very different pathways to get to where they are. Eddy hadn’t thought much about coding before deciding to dive right into it, whereas Bridget wanted a career as a developer for years. Whether coding is something you never gave much thought to or you’ve tried a different route before, you, too, can make a transition into web development with Codeup! If you’re interested in starting a career that you love in an ever-growing industry, apply today

From Slacker to Data Scientist: Journey to Data Science Without a Degree

From Slacker to Data Scientist - Ednalyn De Dios shares their experience of getting into data science without a degree

Butterflies in my belly; my stomach is tied up in knots. I know I’m taking a risk by sharing my story, but I wanted to reach out to others aspiring to be a data scientist. I am writing this with hopes that my story will encourage and motivate you. 

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I don’t have a PhD. Heck, I don’t have any degree. Still, I am very fortunate to work as a data scientist in a ridiculously good company. Here’s how I did it (with a lot of help).

 

Formative Years

It was 1995 and I had just gotten my very first computer. It was a 1982 Apple IIe. It didn’t come with any software but it came with a manual. That’s how I learned my very first computer language: Apple BASIC.

My love for programming was born.

In Algebra class, I remember learning about the quadratic equation. I had a cheap graphic calculator then, a Casio, that’s about half the price of a TI-82. It came with a manual too, so I decided to write a program that will solve the quadratic equation for me without much hassle.

My love for solving problems was born.

In my senior year, my parents didn’t know anything about financial aid but I was determined to go to college so I decided to join the Navy so that I could use Montgomery GI Bill to pay for my college. After all, four years of service didn’t seem that long.

My love for adventure was born.

Later in my career in the Navy, I was promoted as the ship’s financial manager. I was in charge of managing multiple budgets. The experience taught me bookkeeping.

My love for numbers was born.

After the Navy, I ended up volunteering for a non-profit. They eventually recruited me to start a domestic violence crisis program from scratch. I had no social work experience but I agreed anyway.

My love for saying “Why not?” was born.

 

Rock Bottom

After a few successful years, my boss retired and the new boss fired me. I was devastated. I fell into a deep state of clinical depression and I felt worthless.

I recall crying very loudly at the kitchen table. It had been more than a year since my non-profit job and I was nowhere near close to having a prospect for the next one. I was in a very dark space.

Thankfully, the crying fit was a cathartic experience. It gave me a jolt to do some introspection, stop whining, and come up with a plan.

“Choose a Job You Love, and You Will Never Have To Work a Day in Your Life.” — Anonymous

 

Falling in Love, All Over Again

To pay the bills, I was working as a freelance web designer/developer but I wasn’t happy. Frankly, the business of doing web design bored me. It was frustrating working with clients who think and act like they’re the expert on design.

So I started thinking, “what’s next?”

Searching the web, I stumbled upon the latest news in artificial intelligence. It led me to machine learning which in turn led me to the subject of data science.

I signed up for Andrew Ng’s machine learning course on Coursera. I listened to TwitML, Linear Digression, and a few other podcasts. I revisited Python and got reacquainted with git on Github.

My love for data science was born.

It was at this time that I made the conscious decision to be a data scientist.

 

Leap of Faith

Learning something new was fun for me. But still, I had that voice in my head telling me that no matter how much I study and learn, I will never get a job because I don’t have a degree.

So, I took a hard look in the mirror and acknowledged that I needed help. But I wasn’t sure where to look.

Then one day out of the blue, my girlfriend asked me what data science is. I jumped off my feet and started explaining right away. Once I stopped explaining to catch a breath, I managed to ask her why she asked. And that’s when she told me that she’d seen a sign on a billboard. We went for a drive and I saw the sign for myself. It was a curious billboard with two big words “data science” and a smaller one that says “Codeup.” I went to their website and researched their employment outcomes.

I was sold.

 

Preparation

Before the start of the class, we were given a list of materials to go over.

Given that I had only about two months to prepare, I was not expected to finish the courses. But, I did them anyway. I spent day and night going over the courses and materials, did the tests, and got the certificates!

 

Bootcamp

Codeup was a blur. We had a saying in the Navy about the bootcamp experience: “the days drag on but the weeks fly by.” This was definitely true for the Codeup bootcamp as well.

We were coding in Python, querying the SQL database, and making dashboards in Tableau. We did projects after projects. We learned about different methodologies like regression, classification, clustering, time-series, anomaly detection, natural language processing, and distributed machine learning.

More important than the specific tools, I learned: 

  • Real data is messy; deal with it.
  • If you can’t communicate with your stakeholders, you’re useless.
  • Document your code.
  • Read the documentation.
  • Always be learning.

 

Job Hunting

Our job hunting process started from day one. We updated our LinkedIn profile and made sure that we were pushing to Github almost every day. I even spruced up my personal website to include the projects we did during class. And of course, we made sure that our resumé was in good shape.

Codeup helped me with all of these.

In addition, Codeup also helped prepare me for both technical and behavioral interviews. The student placement team taught me how to optimize answers to highlight my strengths as a high-potential candidate.

 

Post-Graduation

My education continued even after graduation. In between filling out applications, I wrote code every day and tried out different Python libraries. I regularly read the news for the latest developments in machine learning. While doing chores, I would listen to a podcast, a TedTalk, or a LinkedIn learning video. When bored, I listened to or read books about data or professional development.

I’ve had a lot of rejections. The first one was the hardest but after that, it kept getting easier. I developed a thick skin and learned to keep moving.

 

Conclusion

It took me 3 months after graduating from Codeup to get a job. When I got the job offer, I felt very grateful, relieved, and excited.

I could not have done it without Codeup and my family’s support.

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This blog post was written by Ednalyn C. De Dios for Towards Data Science: A Medium publication sharing concepts, ideas, and codes. An edited version is being shared on Codeup with permission from the author. You can reach them on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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If you’d like to learn more about how Codeup can help you launch your career in data science, schedule a call with our team today or reach out to admissions@codeup.com!

From Bootcamp to Bootcamp: Two Military Veterans Discuss Their Transition Into Tech

From Bootcamp to Bootcamp: Jeff Roeder and Benny Fields share their Codeup experience

Are you a veteran or active-duty military member considering your next steps? Our alumni have been in your boots. In a recent virtual panel, two vets discussed their transition into technology careers with Codeup: Benny Fields III, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant turned Full Stack Web Developer, and Jeffery Roeder, a Navy Intelligence Analyst turned Data Scientist. Whether you’re interested in Data Science or Web Development, here are some key takeaways from the event. 

Why Codeup?

“The GI Bill was a huge plus, but the icing on the cake was the placement program.” – Benny Fields

After retiring from the Air Force, Benny Fields took a job as a technical writer, but he quickly became more interested in the software he was writing about than the writing itself. His friend suggested looking into a coding bootcamp, which he did. He liked that Codeup accepts the GI Bill and the icing on the cake for him was learning about the work our student placement team does to get you hired.

What does Codeup’s Student Placement Team do?

“They’ll give you every imaginable tool to get placed. They have tons of connections- it’s crazy. Colleges aren’t gonna do that for you.” – Jeff Roeder

We’ll buff up your resume, set up mock interviews, and give you the know-how to nail your interviews and get a job offer. From how to dress, to what to say in a thank you letter, Jeff said it best: we’ll give you every imaginable tool to get placed in a new career. And it’s backed up by our tuition refund

How did you pass the technical assessments during the application process?

 “They basically tailored their workshop to me. That’s the kinda stuff that Codeup’s gonna do, they’ll get you there!” – Jeff Roeder

Jeff Roeder heard about Data Science classes at Codeup from a friend who had seen our “crazy billboards” (one of which features Benny). He’s a former intelligence analyst, but the admissions process wasn’t entirely a breeze for him. After studying and studying, Python just wasn’t clicking, and he failed one of his technical assessments. He was about to give up on it, but our admissions team wasn’t ready to give up on him. We personally invited him to one of our Saturday workshops where we taught him step by step how to build the foundation he needed. 

How does your military experience relate to your experience at Codeup?

“They were like ‘hey, you’re gonna learn Spanish and you only have six months to do it,’ which is much like going to Codeup to learn something new, you only have six months to do it.” – Jeff Roeder

When Jeff first joined the Navy as a linguist, he was told to learn Spanish in six months. When he joined Codeup, he was told to learn Data Science in five months. They were both immersive experiences where people of different personalities and different cultures joined together for a common goal. As Jeff put it, you may not always like someone or relate to them, but you need each other to accomplish what needs to get done.

“Coming to Codeup, I had to be flexible because I had to learn to adapt to new technologies with new people that were way younger than me and were catching on faster.” – Benny Fields

For Benny, one similarity is that in the Air Force, you have to be flexible. He was used to having a planned day and changing it at the drop of a hat. In the tech field, things are always changing, and flexibility and constant learning are essential. This is where the military flexibility really came in handy for him.

Jeff and Benny may have completed different Codeup programs but they both had the same journey from bootcamp to bootcamp. Both failed their technical assessments at first and had to leverage our resources to get through the admissions process. They both worked with our financial aid team to use their VA benefits for the course, and they both left Codeup with a job and a new skillset.

Mission accomplished.

 

If you’re looking for your next step and want to learn more about using VA benefits to attend Codeup, talk with our team today! And don’t miss our next virtual event – check out our calendar at codeup.com/events!

Discovering My Passion Through Codeup

Headshot of WebDevelopment Alumni, Miguel. Beside the title graphic "Discovering my passion through Codeup"

On February 27th, 2020, I completed an intensive career accelerator program to become a Full-Stack Web Developer! It was a great experience that made me feel right at home. Solving problems, planning, and developing projects all aligned perfectly with my passions and hobbies.

 

Out of the 670+ hours spent developing, there were moments when I would feel the stress, frustration, and discouragement when my source code wouldn’t produce my expected outcome. However, I believed in my abilities and persevered. I continued to work diligently on every project until it was successfully complete. The hard work wasn’t easy, but it was extremely rewarding. It is commonly said, “If you love what you do, it won’t feel like work” and I truly what I love to do! I can honestly say that my career is my passion.

 

The impact this program has had on me is unforgettable. I’ve left this program with a new career, knowledge, experience, and skills; but also friends that share the same passion as myself. It was beyond my expectations. I am extremely grateful for the friendships created, the instructors who always had time to help, and the staff that solidified this entire experience. My drive and passion have led me here and I’m eager to embark on this journey to keep learning and continue developing.

 


Are you ready to discover your passion? Then make sure to check out our programs and give us a call, we’d love to help you find the career of your dreams!

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Miguel Garcia is a Software developer in the San Antonio, TX. Connect with him on Linkedin!

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.

Codeup Talks Expanding Its Coding School To All Of Texas

Photo Taken In Chon Buri, ThailandBy   – Reporter, San Antonio Business Journal

Seven years ago, Joseph Villafranca walked into the 10th floor of the Weston Centre for an interview to enroll in a new coding school. As he entered an empty office room and helped Michael Girdley, one of the three co-founders of Codeup LLC, take down chairs for the one-on-one interview, Villafranca wondered whether the school was a scam.

“As someone that wanted to own my own business, I felt I needed something else — a hard skill to my skillset — and coding was it,” Villafranca said.

Graduating with a bachelor of science in business administration from Texas A&M University – College Station, the South Side native wasn’t satisfied working as a manager of a local Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt location.

A Quest Through Codeup

A Quest Through Codeup

Codeup isn’t a cheap program – we know that. As one of the longest accelerators in the country, we recognize that cost is a concern for many prospective students. That’s why this week we are excited to highlight one of our long-standing financial aid partners – Project QUEST – to show you how many pathways are available. 

First of all, we view your tuition as an investment in your future, and we put our best people, ideas, and efforts to make that investment fruitful. But we also want to make that investment more accessible by providing as many financial pathways as possible for tuition funding. As we approach their annual fundraising luncheon this week, we want to highlight Project QUEST as one of the most effective such pathways you can explore.

“The experience of attending Codeup has radically altered my life. Now, instead of financially treading water in a service industry job with a college degree that felt wasted, I have a fulfilling professional career with exciting possibilities for in-field advancement.” – Matthew Capper

Project QUEST is a San Antonio based non-profit dedicated to workforce development and building our city’s future economy. They provide grant funding for educational and training programs, as well as career coaching and support resources (like utilities, childcare, and transportation). Over the last 4 years, Project QUEST and Codeup have collaborated to help dozens of students change careers.

Assistance from Project QUEST was invaluable and empowering. They offer incredible support for career training.” – Jesse Ruiz

In 2019 alone, Project QUEST has helped Codeup train 23 Software Developers and Data Scientists. Those students received grant funding (i.e. free money) anywhere from $2,000 to a full tuition ride, allowing them to fully focus on their education. Our combined efforts help empower life change, resulting in a 92% completion rate and a 95% employment rate of students receiving Project QUEST funding. And when we say life change, we mean it. The average starting salary leaving our program for Project QUEST participants this year was $59,000! That’s the salary floor, and there’s no ceiling. Considering that many of Project QUEST’s participants come from backgrounds of under or unemployment, these are generationally impactful numbers.

“QUEST’s help compounded this opportunity by giving me enough fiscal assistance that I am now on more secure financial footing than I have been in my entire adult life.” – Matthew Capper

If you’re excited about Project QUEST’s impact on individuals and communities, support their work by donating here! If you’re considering a career change, reach out to us at info@codeup.com and we’ll help support your quest for a better future.

A QUEST THROUGH CODEUP

A Quest Through Codeup

Codeup isn’t a cheap program – we know that. As one of the longest accelerators in the country, we recognize that cost is a concern for many prospective students. That’s why this week we are excited to highlight one of our long-standing financial aid partners – Project QUEST – to show you how many pathways are available.

First of all, we view your tuition as an investment in your future, and we put our best people, ideas, and efforts to make that investment fruitful. But we also want to make that investment more accessible by providing as many financial pathways as possible for tuition funding. As we approach their annual fundraising luncheon this week, we want to highlight Project QUEST as one of the most effective such pathways you can explore.

“The experience of attending Codeup has radically altered my life. Now, instead of financially treading water in a service industry job with a college degree that felt wasted, I have a fulfilling professional career with exciting possibilities for in-field advancement.” – Matthew Capper

Project QUEST is a San Antonio based non-profit dedicated to workforce development and building our city’s future economy. They provide grant funding for educational and training programs, as well as career coaching and support resources (like utilities, childcare, and transportation). Over the last 4 years, Project QUEST and Codeup have collaborated to help dozens of students change careers.

Assistance from Project QUEST was invaluable and empowering. They offer incredible support for career training.” – Jesse Ruiz

In 2019 alone, Project QUEST has helped Codeup train 23 Software Developers and Data Scientists. Those students received grant funding (i.e. free money) anywhere from $2,000 to a full tuition ride, allowing them to fully focus on their education. Our combined efforts help empower life change, resulting in a 92% completion rate and a 95% employment rate of students receiving Project QUEST funding. And when we say life change, we mean it. The average starting salary leaving our program for Project QUEST participants this year was $59,000! That’s the salary floor, and there’s no ceiling. Considering that many of Project QUEST’s participants come from backgrounds of under or unemployment, these are generationally impactful numbers.

“QUEST’s help compounded this opportunity by giving me enough fiscal assistance that I am now on more secure financial footing than I have been in my entire adult life.” – Matthew Capper

If you’re excited about Project QUEST’s impact on individuals and communities, support their work by donating here! If you’re considering a career change, reach out to us at info@codeup.com and we’ll help support your quest for a better future.

How Codeup Prepared Me for a Career

Codeup Demo Day

By Joyce Yueh Yueh Ling

In four months, a lot can change. Four months: A San Antonio winter, a long distance relationship, a college semester.

During my four months at Codeup, I pursued what felt like an unattainable goal and actually reached it. When I tell people that I’ve been coding less than a year and am now working as a software developer, people are usually impressed. But to be frank, I could never have done that without attending a coding boot camp like Codeup. It was a short four-month process that was like stumbling from a dusty, old wardrobe into Narnia: on one side, a clumsy and unenlightened beginner and thereafter being transformed by a completely new and fantastical world. Attending Codeup armed me with the experience and knowledge that allowed me to survive the harsh winter landscape that starting out from scratch as a software developer can be.

Now as I am working at my first real job, I’m grateful to Codeup for teaching me several things that allowed me to be better prepared for my career.

1. Collaboration

Paired Programming

From beginning to end, Codeup placed a huge emphasis on group exercises. The beginning of the course was characterized by paired programming, a process in which one person is the navigator and one is the driver. As the names suggest, the navigator communicates with the person at the keyboard and directs them to type certain bits of code or navigate to specific elements on the page. Often, we would flip-flop between these roles so both students could get a crack at practicing one of two things: Firstly, we practiced how to communicate clearly and efficiently. Secondly, we learned how to take direction and ask clarifying questions.

At the time, I wasn’t sure what the big deal was with paired programming and why the instructors at Codeup had made it such an integral part of the curriculum. However, as I go about my everyday duties at work, I realized how often I engage in informal bouts of paired programming. Although we have a Wikipedia-style knowledge base at my work where we document our processes, a lot of knowledge is still transferred orally (not ideal, but we’re working on it!). What this means is that paired programming happens on a daily basis. If a developer is having a complex problem, it is usually easier for a coworker who has solved this problem before to sit down and walk them through it rather than try to explain things via chat or email.

Group Projects

Towards the end of the semester, we coalesced into group projects in which the primary focus was teamwork. This was where we got a taste of working independently but in a team effort. It was during the group projects that I discovered the importance of learning how to use a versioning control system, such as GitHub, that allowed multiple developers to participate on the same project without stepping on any toes. When I started my job at Armor, I realized how much more complex versioning control can get when you have potentially 50+ people contributing to the same repository at any given time. I had to relearn the fundamentals and be extra careful not to overwrite someone else’s work. Most mistakes are reversible, but the headache of figuring out what went wrong and how to fix it is usually a source of distraction from a developer’s daily duties and sprint goals.

2. Learning how to ask for help

Like Real Life

When I initially started at Codeup, I found myself wanting to ask the instructors questions as soon as I got stuck on something. However, I quickly realized that their resources were limited since there were only 2 of them (plus 1-2 fellows) in a class of 30. Although this wasn’t ideal, it actually did simulate a real-life scenario that parallels a professional working environment. At my work, there are probably only 2 or 3 lead developers. However,  they are constantly inundated with requests by QE and other junior developers, code review, and demands from management. If you need to make a request, best make it quick and efficient.

Asking Questions the Right Way

I then remembered what instructors had mentioned during Codeup. They taught us that if you have a question, make sure you present it in a format such as:

  1. Describe your question/problem in detail.
  2. What have you already done to try and solve it?
  3. Why don’t you think your solution worked?

This made it so that students would actually try to figure out a solution before shooting their hand up every time they had a problem, only to find that they could have easily solved it with a little more digging. In my experience, most experienced developers are usually happy to help. However, it’s good practice to make sure to demonstrate you tried your best and that you’re not wasting their precious time.

3. Pushing through the doubt

“I’m not cut out for this”

Throughout the boot camp, it came to be a running joke that everyone would have an emotional breakdown at least once during their time at Codeup. You would see someone walk off and come back with teary, red eyes. Or for some, they would vocalize their despair: “I don’t think I’m cut out for this.”, “This is too hard.”, “I’m so frustrated!”, “Maybe I should just give up.” I myself broke down emotionally several times during Codeup and reiterated several mental self-doubts to myself: “Maybe I should have stuck to the arts. I’m too emotional to do well in computer science. I’ll never be good enough”. On some days, you would feel accomplished and confident in your abilities. On other days, the doubts would flood in unexpectedly and endanger everything I had worked so hard for. However, through the support of other students in the class, the instructors, and the encouragement of the staff, I was able to succeed throughout the course and completed my Demo Day project.

It Always Gets Better

All this is to say, Codeup taught me to have emotional fortitude and a confidence to believe in myself. Because to be honest, the first several months at my job also felt like an emotional roller coaster. I was thrown into an environment where I had to learn and adapt very quickly.  I was constantly afraid and timid because I was the only female developer and also the most junior developer. I expected a lot out of myself, and when I was given criticism I would internally berate myself until my negative self-talk had multiplied the original piece of criticism in my mind ten-fold of what it actually was.

However, my experience at Codeup had taught me to push through in those moments of self-doubt. It gave me a thicker skin in order to ask for help, to learn quickly amidst a ton of ambiguity, and most importantly, a realization that it will always get better as long as I don’t give up

4. Learning how to learn

As you might have noticed, none of the points above are actually related to the technical knowledge I received by attending Codeup and how it affected my career. It goes without saying that Codeup provided me with the coding skills I needed to be succeed in my career. However, another point that our instructors emphasized was that Codeup was not a comprehensive coding academy or computer science degree. In some ways, it was like a tour bus that allowed you a brief overview of all the major stops in the area.

It allowed us to have the impetus and catalytic energy to start off a software development career. It also gave us the tools to quickly be able to pick up any technologies our companies were using.

“We’re teaching you how to learn,” they would say throughout the course. After starting my first job, I came to realize how true this statement was. I imagined myself trying to pick up the technologies at my job without having Codeup as a primer and it seemed near impossible.


Needless to say, Codeup was an essential experience I needed on the way to becoming a full-time software developer. I learned critical skills that have proved invaluable in my day-to-day and have allowed me to be where I am today.

 

Joyce is a full time software developer at Armor, a cloud security company in Richardson, TX. In her free time, she sings in a women’s chorus, plays electric guitar, rock climbs, and is starting a freelance writing business. Check out some of her work at thelusciousword.com.

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