Antonio Raynor had a Computer Science degree from East Carolina and a career in software development; but he knew that the tech market was trending towards web development. He was excited to find out that Coder Foundry was a bootcamp right in the North Carolina area that could teach him the web skills he would need to advance in the industry. Still finishing up his master class, Antonio tells us about the importance of self-teaching in coding, interview prep help, and how his CS degree has helped him at Coder Foundry.
Update: Antonio’s experience as a software developer and updated web development skills from Coder Foundry helped him land a job as a Senior Software Engineer at Core Techs, located in Kernersville, NC. Congrats, Antonio!
What Coder Foundry course are you in?
I’m in the master’s course. I started January 5th.
Tell us what you were doing before you started at Coder Foundry.
Right before coming to Coder Foundry, I had been doing contracting software development for a little over 2 years. I have a computer science degree from East Carolina University.
After graduating from East Carolina, I worked fulltime for a couple of companies, mostly network maintenance work banks. I started contracting to get more real development work. I’m a coder at heart- that’s what I like to do.
What technologies were you working with as a contractor?
Most of my skills were in software development and Visual Basic, C#, Visual Studio, mostly Microsoft. I also have a Java background but I was more focused on Visual Studio.
Were you self-taught in those languages, or did you learn them in your undergrad?
If you don’t self-teach, you’re just not going to make it. A lot of the core of any computer science program is going to be you get the basics and that’s it. As far as programming and learning the techniques of programming, you do that on your own. You kind of create a relationship with the code and your own style, which comes from self-teaching.
How did you teach yourself? Did you do Codecademy or any other online programs?
Books! There’s a few websites that offer some really good tutorials but I learned early on with books and that’s what I’ve stuck with.
What was your motivation in doing a web development bootcamp? Were you interested in changing careers?
Not so much of a career change as taking another road and advancing my current career. I was so intrigued that a bootcamp like this existed.
In the interviews that I was doing for my contract work, they were looking for the skillset that Coder Foundry teaches. I couldn’t keep teaching myself this new web skillset while I was working because there was never enough time. That was one of the reasons I was so surprised that this existed right here in North Carolina. I felt like the direction of the industry was going definitely more towards the web and those were skills that I needed. I didn’t have real world experience using it at some of my jobs.
Did you research any other bootcamps or did you apply only to Coder Foundry?
I only applied to Coder Foundry, but I did a comparison of about three other schools. I was looking for a more advanced school, and it seemed like I would get the most out of Coder Foundry.
What was the application process like for you?
They gave me a phone call and did a phone screen with their whole team. I wasn’t expecting that from the first call. They shot me a few technical questions, nothing really hard, just to get a feel for me. They gave me a description of what the course was like and answered any questions I had.
They said that I would be a better fit for the Master course than for the beginner.
How many people are in your cohort?
There are 12.
Do you feel like there’s diversity in race, gender and age?
Yeah, we are quite diverse. We have students from South Africa, Puerto Rico, all over.
Did you feel like everyone was able to learn together or were some people more ahead than others?
Yes, everyone in my class has had some sort of technical background, so they can handle the material that’s taught. I think everybody’s moving at a good pace.
Who are your instructors at Code Foundry?
Andrew Jensen is our head instructor and then Thomas comes in and helps out during the day if we have problems – he’s awesome.
Is there a lot of lecture or is mostly project based?
No, because you learn from self-teaching and projects. You’ve got to put this information into practice if it’s going to stick with you. We get a lecture for about an hour each day. Once you get your hands into it, you run across questions once you start going and Andrew’s right there for us every day.
It’s definitely project based. We’re working on our project and we’ve had so far three major projects.
Are the projects assigned or are they projects that you come up with?
They’re assigned projects. We all work on the same project with the same specs or requirements. Right now we’re working on an issue tracking software. We all have a long list of specs and requirements and we have to meet them. Everyone’s projects look completely different but the same functionality is there.
Are you working alone or in groups?
I should say that all of our projects are individual. We do work as groups sometimes but everyone has their individual projects that we work on.
How far along are you? What have you learned so far?
We’re right in our midterm. This issue tracker is our midterm. We started with Bootstrap and being able to lay out things on the web page and place objects and design things because that’s the really big part of our projects because it takes time.
From there we went into model-view-controller design patterns. That’s pretty much the first half of the course, model-view-controllers, MVC.
It’s a totally new concept in my programming style. I’m used to Win-forms building a form that you double-click the icon and it comes up; those forms and those backgrounds and on top the database is there; so this is a different pattern of coding.
Do you think your Computer Science degree and background has helped you in the Coder Foundry course?
I think it helps me to have that as part of my experience. We have guys that are in there who were tech engineers and they never touched the software side at all. We’re all moving at about the same pace like I said. For example, when we’re talking about object-oriented programming, I had that pounded into my head in my undergrad.
Are the projects pass/fail? How are those assessed?
Well, you have the opportunity to present it again. If it does not meet the requirements then you get a temporary fail until you can correct it – but you have to continue to work with the course load.
How much time are you spending on the Coder Foundry course?
I dream in code, that’s the honest truth. We’re here eight hours a day and when you get home – I can’t say this for everyone -- but I know that I continue to work on it. I work on it a couple of hours more, so we’re doing 40 – 60 hours, plus the weekends too.
What kind of job are you looking for after you graduate?
Ultimately, I want to be in a permanent position that I just love to go to, instead of being a burden to go to every day. Immediately, I want to make myself more marketable. I want to have the skills from Coder Foundry on my resume and be confident in them.
Have you done any job preparation or interview preparation?
We started that from week one. We’ve interviewed every Monday, we present the work that we did the week prior. We’re taught interview techniques. That’s instilled in us from day one.