From the Service Industry to Software Development

By Randi Mays

Randi Mays

For many teenagers, the path to self-reliance starts in one of two places: a restaurant or retail store. Until it’s time to begin a professional career, you’re working that part-time job stocking shelves, helping irate customers with expired coupons or prepping for the dinner rush. I’d venture to say I’m one of the very few who was sad to leave that lifestyle behind.

I worked in the food service and retail industries for 10 years before I attended Codeup. I took great pride in my work every day; I couldn’t go home until everything was near perfect: my work area spotless, the shelves neatly stocked and everything ready for the next shift. When it came time to leave the service industry and move on to professional work, I was initially reluctant. I had found great personal fulfillment and success in customer service. Why would I want to leave?

I have big dreams. Of course I want to travel the world, spending my vacations in exotic destinations, trying new foods, seeing centuries-old architecture, and making lasting memories. But more importantly, I wanted to work for a company with a more widespread mission than gastronomic satisfaction. I wanted to work alongside people with a passion for their work that ran far deeper than a paycheck.

After graduating from Codeup in September 2016, I began working for USAA as a software developer and I can tell you–the company is no stranger to giving. Each employee receives company paid volunteer hours and I used some of mine to volunteer at the San Antonio Food Bank among dozens of other USAA employees. Last year when Hurricane Harvey hit, USAA was quick to organize several volunteer sessions at their home campus to prepare food and other basic necessities to be delivered to people in need. They even have a system where I can automatically deduct a specified amount from my paycheck to give to charitable causes I am passionate about. I have heard story after story about their representatives on the phone going above and beyond their duties to serve members in combat zones and at home. I can’t enumerate here all of the reasons I admire USAA for its community involvement and caring, but I’m sure I’ve made my point.

There are times I look back on my experience in food service and retail nostalgically, remembering how I excelled in those positions and enjoyed the repetitive work. Then I come back to the present and remember how big an impact my employer makes serving the military community and their families, and how many lives are changed by the work I do with my team. I find great personal satisfaction and pride in my work every day, and I am just getting started.

Codeup Student Check In: Month 2

Codeup coding school

Codeup welcomed our newest cohort, the Wrangell cohort, on July 23. With the start of this cohort, we are launching a new blog series: the Codeup Student Check In. We’ll interview a student over the course of the 4.5 months to see how things are progressing from first impressions all the way to graduation. Thus, welcome to the Codeup Student Check In: Month 2!

We took the time to sit down with our Wrangell student to see how they’ve been doing so far!

Codeup: Describe what you’re learning right now. Is it hard/fun/challenging?

Wrangell Student: In this section of the curriculum we are learning about the basics of Java and the building blocks that make up the language. This language is more verbose than previous material, and one of the hardest parts is understanding the instructions and translating them to code.

C: How has the learning process/information gathering been?

S: A wide variety of resources are available. In addition to the curriculum, I utilize the Head First Java book and the Oracle documentation. Another challenge is combining the knowledge from all these resources into one.

C: How do you feel your skill level compares to last month?

S: Comparing my skill level now with that of last month is no contest. Everyone around me is improving as well and I am excited to see my classmates skill levels growing. Our skills are improving exponentially!

C: How have the instructors and staff been helpful?

S: The instructors hold study hall before class and after to give us extra help. They’re constantly posting resources in our slack channel and encouraging us to ask questions. They have no problem going back to review material or clarify any questions we have. At the same time, they encourage our learning. They don’t give us the answer if it’s obvious or an easily searchable question.

C: Share a fun experience you had at Codeup!

Our great staff gave us some very cool thermoses. I’m a diehard sticker fan. I immediately ordered coding and anime related stickers for this thermos and they’re going straight on the thermos the moment they come in!

C: What has been the most memorable part of this month and has anything exciting happened?

S: Codeup expanded onto the 6th floor of the Vogue building, so we’re coding in a totally different environment. It’s full of natural light, which makes me very happy. I personally love heights so it’s great to look out the windows while taking a break from coding.

Something exciting that happened was that I got my first star! Instructors give us stars for asking good questions. I’m the type of person who needs to google the answer first before asking something. I wouldn’t want to ask something that is easily available on the internet. However, Java is very challenging, and I just needed to ask questions and I got a star! Super exciting!