Alumni Spotlight


How Coding Temple’s Self-Paced Bootcamp Made Brian’s Career Change Possible

By Jess Feldman
Last Updated July 14, 2022

Brian Zanayed was a mortgage lender when he realized the influence of emerging technology in the industry. He chose Coding Temple’s Self-Paced Bootcamp to level up his skills on his own time, and now he’s a Software Engineer at a robotics company! Brian shares his advice for juggling a full-time job with the self-paced bootcamp, how Coding Temple helped him stand out as a new software engineer, and his advice for recent bootcamp grads on their first tech job hunt now. 

What inspired you to switch your career from working in the mortgage industry to software engineering?

Though I really enjoyed mortgage lending at first, the industry had changed so much over the years, largely due to technology. It became clear that it was time for me to switch or be at the mercy of the next technological revolution. Getting into software engineering seemed like the natural transition to essentially future-proof my career. I reached out to a friend of mine who went to Coding Temple, and asked him about his experience. It inspired me to enroll! 

Why did you choose the Self-Paced program at Coding Temple instead of their Full-Time program? 

I did not quit my job in order to do the bootcamp because I didn’t want to set myself back so much that I would be in debt and unsure of future employment. Though I ended up finding a new job pretty quickly after the bootcamp, it was still nice that the program was self-paced at home.  

Did you teach yourself any coding skills before applying to a coding bootcamp? 

Before I joined Coding Temple, I watched some introductory YouTube videos on Python, JavaScript, and a bunch of other languages to see if I’d have any fun with it. I turned out to really like it!

What was admissions like for Coding Temple’s Self-Paced Bootcamp? Did you have to complete a technical assessment?

When I enrolled, there were no prerequisite assessments to enroll. Coding Temple walked us through everything we needed in the beginning through phenomenal introductory videos. You basically just need to know how to use a computer! 

You covered your bootcamp tuition with a loan — Do you recommend others consider using a loan to enroll at a coding bootcamp like Coding Temple?

As someone who's worked in finance, the answer is that it depends on the person who takes out a loan. For me, the loan was perfect because I'm in my late 20s and I don't want to tie up any of my capital and would rather have it in the stock market or in real estate and doing something for me. The loans were perfect because not only could I keep my job, I could learn how to code at home, and the loan stopped me from dipping into any of my savings. 

I took a little bit more out because my lender allows you to take out more than just the tuition, so you can eat, too! I think if you are able to take out the loan and you don't already have so much debt, it can be a good move.

What was a typical week like in Coding Temple’s Self-Paced bootcamp? 

Each week depended on what language we were learning, but a rough outline of a typical week would be explanatory videos, a walk-through, and a project. They would show us a video, offer a quiz to test our understanding, and then apply that insight to a new project relevant to that language. 

How many hours a week were you dedicating to the bootcamp?

Coding Temple offers three-month and six-month access options for the Self-Paced Bootcamp. I honestly think if you commit an hour a day, you could probably graduate from the bootcamp in two months. I paid for six-month access, which allowed me to take my time with it when I got lazy and I was still able to graduate ahead of schedule. 

I was working remotely as I took this course remotely, which I think helped me utilize my time. After work, I would spend two or three hours at a time learning how certain concepts work. 

Were there live lectures or were you learning from pre-recorded lectures? 

Most of the curriculum is pre-recorded, but Coding Temple does offer 1:1 meetings with instructors dedicated to the self-paced students, who are usually accessible. Throughout the course, they tapered off the training videos so we could learn how to learn in order to be self-sufficient in the field. 

Did the self-paced teaching style match how you learn?

For me, yes. Now that I've been given homework by a future employer to do before I start work, I think the self-paced program is a good emulation of what you'll have to do in order to succeed in this industry. You’ve got to be able to teach yourself, since technology changes so frequently as things that are relevant today become obsolete in the future. 

What did the self-paced curriculum cover?

The self-paced curriculum covers everything as the full-time bootcamp, which is full stack. We covered Python, JavaScript, SQL, HTML, and CSS. If you only know one of the languages, your abilities are limited. They teach you full stack so that you can do multiple things with your graduate certificate. They walk you through the basics of all of those languages, and then they cover Flask and React. Flask is the back end for Python for data and React is the front end for creating complex websites.

If you got stuck on a problem or a project during the Self-Paced Bootcamp, were you able to receive live help from instructors, mentors/TAs, or even other students?

There is a Slack channel exclusively for self-paced students where we could work together on projects and answer each other’s questions. Together, we did group coding challenges where we could see each other’s approaches.

Do you have any tips for incoming students on how to juggle a full-time job with this self-paced bootcamp?

My advice is to be realistic about your schedule and be regimented to sticking to it. Before you get that student loan and before you pay that tuition, make sure you can really dedicate the time to it and that you enjoy doing it. If you don't enjoy doing it, I really don't see someone being successful in the industry.

What did you build for your capstone project in the Self-Paced Bootcamp?

The final project was my favorite because I could apply everything I learned. The project was to create a website that could talk to other websites, which is known as an API. You can gather your project data from anywhere you want, and in my case, I used data to make a weather app. 

I'm pretty practical, so I quickly get bogged down and bored by theory. As soon as I had the opportunity to create a website that had all of these components together, that was a blast. My website displayed the weather and then I built a database to create user profiles. I actually went way beyond what was asked for in the final project and probably could have graduated a week earlier if I hadn’t gotten so deep into it!

Did you present your final project in a virtual demo day?

I had the chance to remotely present my functional website to three instructors. After that, I got my certificate and graduated!

Did you include this project in your portfolio?

The first thing I had to do after I got my certificate was create a portfolio resume, which is essentially another website of my experience and projects, including my capstone project. My website project is not quite ready for production, but shows employers that I know how to work with the front end, how to make the data work, and how to make everything flow.

What kinds of career services did Coding Temple offer you? 

Coding Temple hosts continuing education seminars twice-a-week where an instructor shows how to perform certain methodologies that are relevant to the industry. You should still be studying after you graduate, otherwise you run the risk of forgetting what you learned in the bootcamp. Coding Temple does both: they help you find a job and they help you stay tuned up. 

Once you graduate, Coding Temple moves you to the Alumni Slack channel, where people post jobs of places that are hiring and offer job advice. They also give you a technical interview sample, where you can set up an appointment to practice a technical interview. A lot of coding jobs require these to demonstrate your skills in real-time in front of someone or they’ll give you a project to complete in 48 hours. Coding Temple mirrors the interview process in their training so I wasn’t surprised when I got into real job interviews.

Does Coding Temple continue to support you even after graduation?

They’re still supporting me now! They just sent another job in the Slack channel, plus a resume workshop and a workshop on Python data structuring. Alumni remain in the Alumni Slack channel even after they’ve found work.

Which tech roles did you feel qualified to apply for since graduating from Coding Temple? 

I initially looked at mostly internships, co-ops, and apprenticeships, even though I didn’t end up doing that. Instead, I got a full-time software engineer role that I'm just about to start! That's the best outcome I could have hoped for, since I expected to get an internship.

Why did you primarily apply for internships?

Coding is a fairly nebulous job itself. It's a new industry, and whenever someone hires you to do something in tech, especially if you don't have experience, you genuinely don't know what you’ll be doing for them every day. Even though there's a lot of money in tech right now, I was specifically looking for an internship because I didn’t want someone to hire me, over pay me, and decide to fire me — It’s not worth the pain! I really liked the idea of getting an internship where they knew I knew the basics and I wouldn’t feel pressure to deliver more than I was capable of. An internship is baseline and doesn’t run the risk of getting cut when companies need the money.  

Congrats on your Software Engineer role at a robotics company! How did you get the job? 

I network pretty heavily in general, and that’s how I got this job! When I applied at the robotics company, which makes self-driving trucks, I loosely knew someone there, which was how I was able to get my application in front of HR. They asked for my portfolio and resume and were interested that I was pursuing an AWS certificate. I think they chose to move forward with me because of my portfolio! 

Did your interview practice at Coding Temple help you feel prepared for the interview? 

I did feel prepared. When I was in lending, there were points when I managed my own team and interviewed new employees. That also helped me have insight on the business-side. 

When you were interviewing for your first Software Engineering role, was the robotics company interested in your past work experiences? 

When I was interviewing, the team was impressed that I had social skills. They liked that they were talking to someone who has dealt with clients before.

If you are worried that you haven't been coding since you've been walking, a lot of your business experience is going to apply because you have to present some projects to other people. If you’re only thinking of the code, you might get bogged down in the technical aspects and not really understand that you’re creating products for human beings. The fact that I’ve been client-facing, the fact that I've dealt with those issues before, were things the robotics team really liked. I knew that if I ever wanted to be more than an intern I’d have to be able to talk to people. 

What will you be doing as a software engineer? What kinds of projects will you be working on?

The robotics company hired me because they want to update the systems that interact with the sensors on their trucks. Their current engineers focus more on C++, and don't want to spend their time doing what I’ll be doing, which is essentially creating an internal application for them to make it easier for the engineers to talk to the sensors.

Did the self-paced online bootcamp prepare you for this remote software engineer role?

I felt prepared for this because my lending job was also remote. This was good because it forced me to solve problems I had. Sometimes the thing that's wrong in your code is a very small, insignificant issue like you forgot a semicolon and your whole code is broken. If an instructor walks over and just tells you that, you'll miss out on a lot of frustrating but necessary learning. In some ways, I'm glad I did self-paced rather than the alternative.

Looking back on this experience so far, has Coding Temple been worth it for you? 

Yes, attending Coding Temple has been worth it for me. Having access to a network of people that direct you how to learn efficiently was a major benefit to me. Coding Temple teaches the way the industry wants. 

My current employer was surprised when I told them about what I learned at Coding Temple. I am the first coding bootcamp grad on the team but not the first they’ve interviewed. There's a lot of variability in bootcamps, so they were definitely a little apprehensive about what I would know, but once they saw my portfolio they were confident in me. Once they asked me about what I knew from the bootcamp, Coding Temple looked a lot better than bootcamps that they had interviewed from in the past. 

Any words of advice for incoming Self-Paced Bootcamp students?

I would advise students to work on a portfolio while they’re in bootcamp. Have a portfolio so employers can actually see what you do! Right now, you're graduating and nobody knows anything about you. When I was applying, a lot of times they wouldn't even look at my resume unless I had a portfolio attached to it. Also be sure to leverage your past experiences in interviews!

Find out more and read Coding Temple reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Coding Temple.

About The Author

Jess is the Content Manager for Course Report as well as a writer and poet. As a lifelong learner, Jess is passionate about education, and loves learning and sharing content about tech bootcamps. Jess received a M.F.A. in Writing from the University of New Hampshire, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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