David Amyot was lost and uninspired by the path he was taking in college and in the Army. Driven by a lifelong love of computers and enlightened by the opportunity that awaited him in programming, he discovered CodeBoxx, and sought what was offered in this 16-week bootcamp. Now a Junior Developer in CodeBoxx’s Digital Solutions Business, David is financially and personally secure in the direction of his dreams. Find out how he went from no experience to the experience of a lifetime, utilizing an array of new skills ignited by the power of this coding bootcamp.
What inspired you to get into tech?
Technology has always inspired me; I’ve loved computers as long as I can remember. I learned as much as I could in high school and attempted college, but I wasn't mature enough to take college seriously at the time and the classes weren't challenging enough for me to stay focused. I have ADHD and felt like the courses were too slow and not very challenging. At the time, I thought I didn’t like programming (turns out I do) and decided to join the Army. Since then, I’ve attempted various jobs but never found fulfillment. My girlfriend discovered CodeBoxx and I realized that was it for me.
Why did you choose CodeBoxx?
CodeBoxx was ideal for me because they don’t require any prerequisites and there are no tuition fees up front. They let you try it and see if you like it for 2 weeks, with no commitment required beyond that if you decide you don’t like it or end up realizing it’s not for you. With no concrete programming knowledge, I appreciated that I could start as a complete beginner.
One of the great things about CodeBoxx is that you can start the program without needing any hardware upfront, because they’ll loan you a laptop to participate in their bootcamp. The computers they lend are very efficient MacBook Pros and Microsoft Surface Books and are available to keep if you end up working at CodeBoxx’s digital solutions business. CodeBoxx ensures that students have everything they need to succeed in their bootcamp.
What was the CodeBoxx application and interview process like for you, and how did you prepare?
How did you pay for the tuition at CodeBoxx?
CodeBoxx doesn’t require payment of tuition upfront, but they do require a $2000 security deposit that is returned when you finish the bootcamp, or if you decide it’s not a good fit for you after the 2-week selection program.
When I started CodeBoxx, I didn’t have a lot of money but I was able to ask my family for help with the deposit. If that didn’t work out, I would have applied for a personal loan. CodeBoxx has a partnership with Desjardins which makes it very easy to have a loan at a low interest. If you didn’t pay the bootcamp tuition in full up-front, then after you finish the bootcamp, you pay back the tuition in installments, in as many months as you want to pay back, often six or twelve months. For the first 6 months, there is no interest.
What was a typical day like at CodeBoxx?
It’s difficult to describe a typical day, because my bootcamp was affected by the onset of COVID-19 in the middle of our courses, which resulted in everything changing drastically to working remotely.
Before we transitioned to remote mid-bootcamp due to COVID-19, I would arrive at CodeBoxx at 7:30am for a briefing from our coaches. Each coach had their own specific schedule where they would sit with us for an hour to answer our questions. Demonstrations often focused on topics our cohort was having trouble with. When we were struggling with an issue, a coach would call everyone to the whiteboard for a demo. After the morning briefing, I then would work on assignments until 7pm and continue working when I got home.
The CodeBoxx curriculum focuses heavily on soft skills, which is personally inspiring to me, because I would rather work with someone who is positive, ready to learn, and willing to contribute to a better working environment, than someone who knows more technically but has less soft skills.
Did the CodeBoxx teaching style match your learning style?
Absolutely. I find it hard to learn slowly, which was one of my issues with college. CodeBoxx lets you go at your own pace to deliver your project at the end of the week and doesn’t spoon feed students. Primarily, CodeBoxx teaches students how to be autonomous, which builds confidence and self-efficacy. I often thought, “Wow, I did that. I figured it out and did it on my own.” There are coaches available to answer questions, but they won’t always offer a straight answer, because they want you to learn and process how to figure it out. Mostly, CodeBoxx provided an environment in which to work and have access to aid, when necessary.
What kinds of projects did you work on at CodeBoxx?
At the beginning of each week, we were assigned deliverables to develop for a mock client that would be used throughout the whole bootcamp. On Mondays, we would receive a deliverable that was due on Friday at midnight. If, at the end of the week you still had time, they offered bonuses to do the same project in different languages.
The teaching method was progressive, as they would add something new each week. The bootcamp operates under this concept that the students make up a company, and each week there are clients asking for deliverables. Through the program, we the students keep improving the "company" that we represent per the client's request. Codeboxx’s goal with this overarching concept is to represent as closely as possible a real working environment! By the end of bootcamp, you have a website that features a variety of skills. You learn to deploy your own work, use APIs, and work with machine learning.
One of the most important things you’ll learn with CodeBoxx is to collaborate with your teammates. Most of our assignments were group projects, but at midterm, we had a Consolidation Week where we worked alone to showcase what we learned independently.
When CodeBoxx had to move to a remote format due to COVID this Spring, what was that transition like for you as a student?
The onset of COVID-19 was a challenging time, specifically for CodeBoxx, because they were not set up to operate remotely, like most of us. They adapted and quickly made adjustments to accommodate the transition to working from home. We had scheduled meetings with a specific coach that was assigned to a team to monitor our progress, answer questions, and troubleshoot with us.
The hardest part of the transition was creating a working environment at home that was suitable for learning without distractions. It took a lot of personal discipline.
How did CodeBoxx prepare you for the job hunt?
CodeBoxx helped us with: interview preparation, building a profile on CodeBoxx’s portal, making a LinkedIn profile, and building a career curriculum for ourselves. They reviewed these to ensure they met standards that would help us get hired. CodeBoxx has partners that guarantee job placement, which many of my peers took advantage of. All of CodeBoxx's partners have access to the CodeBoxx portal to see student profiles. From there, a company can select who they would like to interview.
What roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from CodeBoxx?
I have suffered from imposter syndrome; I’m not very confident in myself and I didn't think I could learn all those languages. But CodeBoxx taught me how to be autonomous, how to answer my own questions, which boosted my confidence.
Some of my cohort took on roles in software development, research and development, and QA after graduation. I was good at front-end, but since I wanted to work on back-end, I knew I needed to continue working on my skills.
What have you been working on since graduating from CodeBoxx?
Upon graduating, I asked them if they needed help with coaching or if they knew of a good fit for me within CodeBoxx and within a week I was working for CodeBoxx in their digital solutions business. It has been such a good experience, much like a salaried apprenticeship. Now, I work for the digital solutions business and I am also an assistant coach helping students of new CodeBoxx cohorts.
This 16-week bootcamp guarantees a $25/hr job upon completion. I’m a Junior Developer, working full-time, with a salary of $46,000/year and six weeks of vacation time. My starting salary with CodeBoxx Digital Solutions is better than the average in Canada.
What kinds of projects are you currently working on? What languages are you using?
The roles at CodeBoxx are divided into Juniors and Seniors. Juniors work on projects and Seniors oversee the Juniors, do demonstrations, and ensure our work is on point with the demands of the Client.
Just a week into working at the digital solutions unit, I was assigned to an international project that involved building a website with multiple connectors, applications (Go, Ruby, Node.js, Docker), and APIs. The first project I worked on had five applications that had to run at the same time.
I am currently working on a project that utilizes Swift, which is not a language I’m as comfortable with, but I’m using the skills I learned at CodeBoxx to answer my own questions and build my proficiency. Using Swift is not as common and is something I can include in my CV to stand out.
I do work with others in different fields. Often, there are individuals on the team assigned to those respective roles, but sometimes I get assigned to a role that I have to figure out, such as when I was assigned to manage Docker for the deployment of the website. We’re often adapting and changing what we are doing within the company.
Why did you choose to work in Codeboxx’s Digital Solutions Business instead of looking for a full-time job at an outside company?
The benefit of working in CodeBoxx’s digital solutions unit immediately upon graduation is definitely the experience. If I were to work for another company, I don't think I would have gotten to experience such diversity, and yet stability, in my workload. I did not expect that my first project would involve working with people from all over the world and communicating with CEOs of huge companies.
If I had the chance to work for another company for $30/hr instead of the $25/hr I’m currently making, personally, I would refuse it. The experience I am getting with CodeBoxx is more than I could have dreamed of. I am a Junior Developer in an organization that supports my growth as a developer, which, to me, is far more important than the salary.
What do you wish you knew before enrolling in CodeBoxx?
Before I enrolled at CodeBoxx, I wish I knew how to better organize myself with scheduling. I wish I’d known that time is important and can’t be wasted … unless you’re extremely talented. Time is important professionally, to honor the client’s agenda by delivering punctually.
The biggest challenge on my journey to becoming a developer has been self-discipline. It’s less about knowing the skills and more about putting in the hard work. It has been important to be diligent about time management at home, so that I can be fully attentive at work.
What skills from your military background do you rely on now as a developer?
The biggest skill that I have applied from my time in the Army is perseverance and hard work. But life as a programmer is so different than in the Army. You have to do what they say, without question. In programming, you question everything – that’s how you progress, grow, and understand.
Looking back on this year, was CodeBoxx worth it for you?
CodeBoxx was beyond worth it to me. I was so lost before I found this bootcamp, trying to find my calling amidst university offerings. CodeBoxx was the light at the end of the tunnel that helped me realize that I’m made to be a programmer, I’m made to work with computers.
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