Trevor Linan discovered his love for code when a friend asked him to help design a website for an underground music label. He quit his job as a museum store associate, and started LearningFuze’s full time coding bootcamp in Irvine, CA in June 2015. After graduating he quickly found a job as a front end developer, but had his sights set on starting his own business. He is now co-owner and CTO of startup Hero Cybernetics, and a web designer at inGen Concepts.
What were you doing before LearningFuze? What is your educational background? Your last career path?
I spent the past 10 or 11 years in retail. Right before LearningFuze I was working at Bowers Museum in their gallery store, running the register, helping customers, and helping the manager with graphic design work for the TV displays. I started at Cypress College right out of high school, but had no real direction. Then about four or five years into my studies I really got into philosophy and decided to major in it. And doing philosophy is how I met my current business partner, Jose. We were both class presidents, and took a symbolic logic class together.
What made you decide to quit your job and focus on web development as a career transformation?
My best friend wanted to start a record label for underground music and build a website for it. His mom, a programmer for Boeing, started to put together a website, but she had no design experience at all. I don’t have official education in design, but I’m good with design, so she asked me to help her out. I was using an outdated web design tool, called WebEasy Professional. As much as I enjoyed designing the website, there was a lot of stuff I couldn’t do but wanted to do. It intrigued me to figure out how to do it on my own, so I decided I wanted to dig deeper into coding. That led me to learn HTML and CSS which I absolutely loved. I was hooked from my first HTML class.
What tools did you use to start learning to code? How useful were they?
Did you look at other bootcamps or just LearningFuze?
I looked at a couple of online coding bootcamps, but that was pretty much it. LearningFuze was the first one I found that I really wanted to go to. So I set up an interview with them and went to check out the school. Purely based on their presentation on website, and my initial interview with them, I knew right away that’s where I wanted to go. There was no question, it was really simple for me to decide.
What factors were important to you when choosing a coding bootcamp?
Price definitely mattered, but most of the bootcamps I looked at were in a similar price range. My concern was more with quality of people and education. I absolutely loved interviewing with Fabian and Bill from LearningFuze. They were super friendly, informational, and interested in me and what I wanted to learn. It was very easy for me to decide go to their bootcamp.
Their curriculum was a huge factor also. Most other bootcamps I looked at were offering specific languages or frameworks, like Angular or Mean Stack, but LearningFuze focuses on core concepts behind the languages, not a specific language. That was exactly what I wanted to learn. If you don’t know the basic concepts behind programming, you’re not going to be able to get very far. Having that knowledge was very valuable.
Did you think about doing a four-year CS degree?
When I was getting into Codecademy, I did a day or so of research on CS degrees, and decided I wasn’t going to do it. It was too extensive. When I was at Cypress the highest level of math I took was stats, and I’d have had to continue with the math part. A CS degree didn’t make sense to me, I didn’t think it was necessary. I wasn’t really planning on being a general software engineer, I was more interested in web development and design.
Tell me about your class. Was it diverse in terms of gender, race, life and backgrounds?
There were 14 of us. We had two girls in our cohort and it was diverse in terms of gender and race. I still go see LearningFuze once a month, and I know they have quite a few more girls now. It was pretty diverse in terms of background, we had people with electrical engineering degrees, people from finance. We even had a married couple in our cohort. And some people came a long way to do the program – one gentleman packed up from Arizona and moved here.
A popular question we get is — How did you pay for it? Did you use a financing partner?
I had family help in paying for the school, I didn’t use financing or anything. I feel very fortunate I was able to do that. There were financing options, so if I hadn’t had help from my family, I would have used financing, no doubt.
What was the learning experience like at your bootcamp?
The required hours are 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday. But I was there from 8am until 8pm on weekdays, and 10 hours each day on the weekends. I put a lot of time and effort in. When I got there early, our main instructor Dan was always there. If you’re willing to put the time in, they invest their time in you too.
Throughout the course we also had tests, to see what we were or weren’t comprehending. Then they would give us feedback, and help us where we were struggling. Those were very valuable.
What was the coding environment like there?
Coding can be very stressful, but at LearningFuze, the staff emphasize that you need to take breaks. They say “hey, take a 10 minute break then go back to it.” It was so much fun. We had badminton competitions, there was an Xbox there, and all kinds of stuff to get your mind off coding. They made sure you were not only working hard, but also taking care of yourself. I really felt like they cared. It was like a family in there.
What was your favorite project that you created?
Tell me about the job you got after you graduated. What were you doing there?
This is a long story. After graduating from LearningFuze, before I started job hunting, I spent a month improving my portfolio, and working on a project for my friend Jose. Then right when I started looking for jobs, Jose asked me to partner with him and start a company – Hero Cybernetics. I said yes, figuring once I got a job, I could still keep working on the business.
When I started job hunting, it only took me a week to find a job. I had my first interview with Arbonne International, and got hired the same day as a front end developer, but I only worked there for four days. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Arbonne, it’s a fantastic company to work for. I felt bad quitting, but while I was there, inside I felt I wanted to be working on Hero Cybernetics. We already had companies interested in the project who would let us use them for beta testing. So I decided I needed to focus full-time on the startup.
Tell me about Hero Cybernetics! What is your life like as a co-founder?
We are building technology to optimize business activities. Essentially we want to create one complex ecosystem within a company. It will eventually have full autonomy, incorporate AI, learn from the company, learn from itself, and improve anything that’s running inefficiently. Hero Cybernetics is cloud software, so you’ll be able to access it from any device.
Within the next couple months we want to test a beta version with one or two companies. Then within a year and a half, we want to have a fully functional system that can be incorporated into a business. Then at that point we plan on expanding.
I’m building the software for Hero Cybernetics – front end and back end. I’ve been working on it about four months now. Jose handles more of the business aspect of it and helps with the coding when he can. He is the CEO. My official title is CTO.
What programming languages are you using to build Hero Cybernetics?
What sorts of things are you doing to learn new programming languages and skills after bootcamp?
I’m always plugged into the latest news feeds to do with web development. I follow pretty much all coding languages on social media, and read articles about them. I’ve also taken a few Udemy courses since LearningFuze, to keep updated on newer technologies. It’s about being proactive and involved in the web world. If you just focus on one thing, your knowledge will stagnate and you won’t progress.
You are also freelancing – tell us about that.
I have a company called inGen Concepts where I do freelance web development, web design and UX/UI work. It provides me with income while I’m working on the Hero Cybernetics software.
Was it always your goal to start your own business after the coding bootcamp?
It wasn’t at all. My intention was to go to LearningFuze then find a job doing web development, working full time in coding. After Jose asked me to partner with him, I found this part of myself that was very entrepreneurial, and I’ve taken that perspective in life now. I don’t intend to work a full time job again now. With the skills I learned at LearningFuze, plus my new sense of entrepreneurial freedom, I feel like there is no limit to what I can do.
What does a typical day look like for you as a web developer?
I split my time between Hero Cybernetics and inGen Concepts. At first it was complicated – one of the first things you learn very quickly when you’re working by yourself is how to manage your time. So now I allocate specific days or times to do one or the other.
I’ll get up and start coding straight away. I meet with Jose two or three times a week, and we’ll go through software, the business plan, and make sure we’re on schedule. It’s pretty much the same thing every week until the software is fully built out. I’m working from home, and sometimes at Jose’s place.
What advice do you have for people making a career change at a coding bootcamp?
Just make sure you know you want to do the bootcamp. I know it sounds vague, but when I wanted to go to a bootcamp, there was not one speck of doubt that I wanted to do that. Just know with 100% certainty you want to do coding and that you’re passionate about it. And if you want to take the bootcamp route, go and meet the people and really get a feel for the environment and the bootcamp and decide which one you want to go to.
Is there anything else you want to add about LearningFuze?
LearningFuze changed my life. The people there were so encouraging, so motivating. I really loved every single moment. I can’t stress that enough. I go back every month, and visit or have a badminton battle. They have a fantastic alumni network and hold events. I keep in touch with a lot of my cohort members. I wouldn’t change anything about my experience there.