While most coding bootcampers are making career changes, Hussain Muhammad decided to postpone college to start his career as a developer after high school. He spent 15 weeks at Coding Temple in Chicago, collaborating with his cohort and instructor to learn the .NET stack. Now Hussain tells us all about his new job as a front-end developer at FifthEstate.
What were you up to before you went to Coding Temple?
Last June, I graduated from high school in Irving, Texas. I had been thinking about college but was wondering how it would work financially. College is not free!
Did you take a CS class in High School?
Nope! The first time I actually coded an application was on Codecademy during the Coding Temple interview. My Coding Temple interviewer sent me the Python track to complete in one week, and at the end of the week, we talked through what I had learned in the interview together.
I started looking at schools in the Dallas area and Chicago (where I’m originally from). I came across Coding Temple and their curriculum was interesting and different. Coding Temple teaches .NET, as opposed to Ruby on Rails like a lot of coding bootcamps.
I researched a handful of bootcamps, and while I considered other schools like Dev Bootcamp, I only applied to Coding Temple.
Most coding bootcampers are changing careers, but you are starting your career. Did you consider doing a four-year degree? What held you back?
Price is what really held me back. I would still like to continue my education and go to college and maybe get a degree in Computer Science. But for now, I’m progressing in my career development. I’m pushing college back by a year or two to get comfortable as a developer. Right now, I feel like I’m getting experience that could be useful during college as well.
Was the Coding Temple application tough to complete as a beginner?
I wouldn’t say the application was hard, but Coding Temple was trying to find the most diverse group of people who had the urge for learning. It was a typical application, asking about your background etc. My coding challenge was about Python.
Was it ever an issue or concern that you had just graduated from high school?
It wasn’t an issue for Coding Temple; actually, they thought it was pretty neat. They helped me get comfortable with the classroom environment and were really supportive.
Was your class diverse in terms of age, gender, race etc?
Definitely. Especially in terms of age – the oldest student in our class was in his 50s. We had a nice melting pot of students. Everyone was from different backgrounds; one of my classmates was a really talented pastry chef. The commonality was that we were all trying to make it in tech.
When we began the class, everyone was at different coding levels. Some had previous technical backgrounds, while others were completely new to coding. If anything, I would say the biggest challenge was trying to even myself out with my peers so that we could collaborate well.
Was your family supportive of the coding bootcamp route? Did they know what a bootcamp was?
My mom is so proud, and my family sees these skills as really cutting-edge. The world is digital, so these are skills that will be relevant for years.
The course was $8000 for 15 weeks. My family had some money saved; I think it was a good investment. It’s always good to have support from your family when you’re doing something like this.
What was the learning experience like at Coding Temple (compared to your experience in high school classrooms)?
It was different; we had afternoon classes and lectures from 5 pm to 9 pm, as well as 12 pm to 3 pm on weekends. Our classroom was in a WeWork at the time, but Coding Temple now has their own classroom space, which I hear is pretty neat.
Our instructor, Hitesh Patel, was a really hands-on teacher. He wanted us to think through concepts on our own, which I’m really appreciative of now, because that’s what I have to do at work every day. That approach really improved my problem-solving skills. Hitesh was never a teacher who would spoon-feed us answers, but he didn’t mind helping or staying late after class. Anything we needed – books, website recommendations, help on the weekends – he was there.
What were you expected to do during the day? Were you usually in the classroom all day?
We could be in WeWork any time, learning on our own. We usually had an assigned project that we were working on during the day. We could also look over notes, catch up from the night before; anything to better our understanding.
Did you do a lot of projects throughout the course?
The projects we did weren’t huge, but they were all helpful and are things I can definitely apply to what I’m doing now.
Tell us about your job today!
Currently, I’m a full-time developer for a startup in Addison, Texas called FifthEstate which is a social media platform that aggregates smaller blogs. We want to be a platform for non-mainstream media; we’re pushing for local voices because those opinions shape the world around us.
I’m working mostly on front-end work now. I use AngularJS mostly; I haven’t been using many of the tools I learned at Coding Temple yet, but our “middle-layer” will probably be C# or .NET, so I’ll be able to incorporate more of that stack.
How have you learned a new language, like Angular?
When I first started talking to my boss Larry, he told me I would be expected to figure things out on my own. I’m looking at this partly as an opportunity to be paid to learn. My first job as a developer is all about the experience.
When I began, I didn’t know much about AngularJS, but once I started writing it and reading up on JS capabilities, that helped me get a grasp on the language. Our Head Developer has me test his Angular code, which has been particularly helpful.
Tell us about the process of getting hired. Was it through Coding Temple’s hiring network?
I found that in the Texas job market, hiring managers were a bit skeptical of junior developers. It’s hard for them to gauge what you’re capable of.
I was sending out my resume and networking, and my now-boss Larry returned one of my calls. I was very clear that I was fresh out of school and looking to learn and grow as a developer. Some people in this industry are after the money, but I was clear that I was more interested in having a strong learning environment. That was about one month ago.
Was your boss skeptical of hiring a junior developer from a coding bootcamp?
No. He’s really involved in the development world, so he’s actually talking about hiring even more junior developers. He was mostly attracted to my enthusiasm, and we both have go-getter mentalities.
Looking back, do you think that Coding Temple was worth the risk and the tuition?
Of course! The education I received at Coding Temple will help me not only become a better developer, but also a more well-rounded individual. I believe in getting your hands in as many things as possible over your life, and going to Coding Temple exposed me to a really neat field. It was worth it, and then some.
For other high schoolers who may be on the fence about going to a coding bootcamp or college, what’s your advice to them?
Be prepared to be patient. There will be days (and I still have these days) when I’m totally confused and things aren’t coming to me right away. I would recommend going to a bootcamp if you can’t afford college immediately after high school, or even if you’re just curious about being a developer.
My advice is to go for it, because everyone will get something out of it.