Alexandru was working as a financial attache at the Romanian Consulate in Shanghai when he started teaching himself to code. He absolutely loved it and decided to switch careers and become a software developer. Alexandru enrolled at Jademy coding bootcamp in Bucharest, Romania where he learned Java. He graduated in June 2015, and has since worked as a developer at Qualysoft, IBM, and now Endava. Alexandru tells us about what spurred him to learn to code, the intense learning experience at Jademy, and what it’s like to work as a developer.
What was life like before Jademy?
I have an economics degree from Bucharest University of Economic Studies. My previous career was in banking and financial markets, with a focus on training. My training experience includes conducting sessions with bank employees, and running more than 40 seminars while working for a trading broker.
How did you first get into coding? Did you try to learn on your own or teach yourself before you thought about going to a coding bootcamp?
Right before I decided to become a software developer, I was working in Shanghai as a financial attache for the Consulate General of Romania. That’s where it all started. I really wanted to teach myself how to write a trading expert advisor program in my free time. So I started to read and learn about programming using books and tutorials that I found online. I didn’t have any previous experience, so the self-learning process was very slow and difficult.
After six weeks of study and sustained work I managed to create a small program that was opening and closing trades for me, following a trading strategy. Creating a functional piece software, which I built from scratch down to the smallest detail, filled my heart with joy and strengthened my will to learn to code and switch careers at 35.
Why did you choose Jademy among other coding bootcamps?
The price was very attractive, especially compared with foreign bootcamps. The location was perfect, the courses were starting soon. But the most important thing was I could spend three months learning Java through lessons, exercises, and building applications.
Why did you want to learn Java and Android development?
Java is one of the most widely-used programming languages in the world. I felt that learning JavaSE and a little JavaEE would really improve my chances of success when applying for junior software developer positions.
Did you think about going to university to study computer science instead of going to Jademy?
I did not think for one moment about studying computer science at university, because my goal was to learn as much as I could, as fast as possible, to be ready for interviews, and then a job. I needed a shortcut. And Jademy was the perfect solution.
What was your cohort like at Jademy? Was it diverse?
We were 15 men and no women. I believe we were the only group that had no women. The other cohorts have been more diverse and I believe that more and more women want to learn Java.
Regarding life and career backgrounds, we were all different. There was an accountant, a construction engineer, a cruise ship technician, a graduate of dentistry school, people in banking, etc. All of us had life stories unrelated to coding.
What was the learning experience like at Jademy? Can you give us an example of a typical day and the style of teaching?
The learning experience was intense. Each morning we studied a new Java concept and after that we worked on solving different types of exercises or coded some elementary Java applications. After class I would read Java books and go over the learning materials that Jademy has on its learning platform. But the most important thing was being able to completely focus on the language that you want to learn, alongside people with the same goal.
What was your favorite project that you worked on at Jademy?
My favorite Java application was my final graduation project. I tried to recreate an old football board game from my childhood. I really enjoyed studying the rules of the game, then trying to implement each rule in functional code, all while creating a responsive GUI to play with. It was a hard but rewarding experience.
What sort of training did Jademy give you to prepare you for job hunting?
The Jademy teachers and staff helped us refresh and redesign our resumes and Linkedin accounts. We also had a guest speaker from a recruiting IT company who answered our questions and gave us some insights about how hiring managers evaluate candidates, and how to prepare for job interviews.
Tell us about your first job when you graduated from Jademy - what did you do there?
After finishing the Jademy Java course I started a job with an IT company which developed and maintained financial web applications for their customers. This was the first time that I had interacted with quality production code, and the first time that I understood the whole environment of a web app. There I started to use and learn about frameworks (Spring, Struts, Hibernate, etc.) and then improve and enhance one of the applications with new functionalities.
Tell us about the job you got at IBM. What was your specific role?
At IBM things were a bit different from my previous job. The company is huge, there are a lot of people and procedures, so the personnel experience was different compared to a small IT company. From a professional point of view, my role was to develop and maintain code for some already implemented banking web apps by resolving any incidents that disturbed the functionality, correct any anomalies that appeared after new code implementation, or develop small evolutions and enhancements for those projects.
What stacks, programming languages or technologies were you using at IBM? Were you using languages you learned at Jademy, or did you have to learn new languages?
What sort of training did you get at IBM? How long did it take to learn everything?
I didn’t get much training at IBM, but I got a lot of support from my colleagues who helped me with good professional advice, and by answering all of my many questions. I didn’t learn everything, it is impossible to learn so many different technologies in a short period of time. But I learned that the most important thing is that you understand how they interact with each other and know how to search online for different implementations that will help you code the solution.
What are you doing now? What is your new job?
Now I work for Endava, a software company from the UK. Here I deliver a lot of new code so my role is changed from a software maintenance guy to a software developer. A good sign that I’m evolving.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your journey to becoming a developer?
I don’t know if I’ve felt truly challenged until now. I would say it is a beautiful but difficult road to take. It is difficult because of the huge amount of information that you have to understand and learn, mixed with a lot of specific terminology. But it is not “rocket science,” although it can lead to that if you want.
Have you stayed involved with Jademy? Are you mentoring new students? Do you stay in touch with other alumni?
Yes, of course, I regularly talk with my former Jademy colleagues. Also, I recently started my own Java training session with Jademy students who want to learn more and understand things from the perspective of a software developer who is just one step in front of them. I sincerely believe that by sharing my recent experience with them I can motivate them to become quality coders and prepare them for the job interview that will soon come.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about changing careers and going to a coding bootcamp? Would you recommend Jademy?
Do it! The learning process can be difficult sometimes, but it sure is very rewarding! There is no better or faster way to learn to code than attending a coding bootcamp. Keep in mind also that after a hard and stressful job it can feel like a summer vacation where you are fortunate to learn new things that will eventually change your life.
For their professionalism, dedication, friendship, kindness, adaptability, and of course skills, I would like to recommend the Jademy coding bootcamp to anyone interested in learning Java . It’s a fine place to start your coding adventure.