In 2004, I graduated Colorado College with a degree in sociology.
That qualified me for nothing. Seriously, I had an expensive education,
which prepared me to teach, research, wait tables or return to school for more
Instead, I took to the road, spending seven years as an ice hockey referee,
in towns like Omaha Nebraska and Tulsa Oklahoma, scaling the ranks of minor
professional hockey in route to the NHL. However, by 2011, the NHL was no longer as
interested in me as I was in them.
Since then, I've had a number of jobs: I coached high school and collegiate baseball,
refereed division one college hockey, tended bar and pitched media for a PR firm.
After working in public relations, I was pretty overwhelmed by the constant conversation in an office full of extroverts. It felt impossible to get anything done amidst all the talk. So I wanted a change.
When thinking about coding, three things kept coming to mind:
workflow, income, and flexibility.
For me, coding represents a career where I can work independently, while part of a larger team.
In addition, web development offered me the shortest/cheapest path to a high-income job.
To be a successful coder, you don't need a masters degree or 10 years experience; you just
need a few months of really hard work to get up to speed.
After doing my research, it felt like ‘trade-school education’ for a ‘white-collar paycheck’.
Finally, and just as importantly, I saw the flexibility to work from home and work unusual hours.
Developers typically carry their computers and can be productive anywhere.
I like the idea of working from Tahoe or Yosemite or anywhere else.
So, from the perspective of workflow, finances, and flexibility, coding was appealing from the start. My family was optimistically ignorant. Without knowing the first thing about the process to become a web developer, they were encouraged by my desire to take up a profession sought after by today's modern economy. My girlfriend works in tech. So she was thrilled about the prospect of greater income and joining her field.
But I had no experience in coding whatsoever. To be perfectly honest, that was one of my biggest concerns before enrolling in Codify Academy.
I'm pretty cynical when people talk about good jobs with minimal time investment. So it was important to me to speak with the teaching staff, recent graduates, and founder of codify academy Matt Brody to get the “small print”. Really, I needed to know the actual time investment, class structure, etc. Lastly, I was interested in hearing which students are successful and which are unsuccessful. Once I could see myself in the Codify environment, I felt comfortable enrolling.
I also looked at Hack Reactor, App Academy and General Assembly. Traveling three times per month and working four jobs didn't leave enough available time to enroll in a traditional coding bootcamp. But I needed the structure and accountability that comes from regular classes and assigned homework. Codify academy was the best that met all these criteria.
The most difficult aspects of learning to code to me are the time commitment, and the unexpected problem-solving. The languages themselves aren't particularly difficult to understand, but practicing them takes time. It’s not easy carving out 20 to 30 hours per week to code. But falling behind in class was a death sentence – you'll never catch up.
So, whether it was two in the morning, two in the afternoon, too long, or too hard, I put in the work.
If you’re on the fence about Codify, make sure you have at least 20 hours in your schedule to devote to homework in addition to the time you spend in class. If you don't have that time now, you won't have that time later. Also, you talk to somebody who has been through the program (like me!) and get an honest perspective of what it's like to be enrolled in Codify Academy! And maybe have another means of income in case you don't get hired right away. You'll need to sustain yourself while you apply for jobs, following class.
The hiring process was like being “chopped”, fired, and voted off the island every day for six months. Nobody tells you why you're not getting an interview, so you blindly change your cover letter, resume, and portfolio, like you're swinging at a piñata in a dark cave.
Codify now starts prepping students for applications in week one, offer regular hiring workshops for recent graduates, and encourage graduates to work with a mentor to sharpen their application.
It is clear to me now that a great portfolio will get you hired faster than a great resume/cover letter. Portfolios with live websites, numerous projects, and strong development get more consideration. Knowing this, I would have started building my portfolio earlier, and been more strategic about my homework with the long-term goal of my portfolio in mind.
I don't yet have the flexibility I want out of this profession. And I'm not yet up to speed at my new job. But I hope that, within a year, I'll be able to do what I want, when I want, for a steady income. Instead of waking up, working four jobs, and wondering how I would pay the rent at the end of each month, I wake up every day, go to work, and enjoy my free time!