David Boutin had no coding experience before applying to CodeBoxx. Two years after graduating, he’s been promoted, leads a team of developers, and continues to apply the skills (both technical skills and soft skills) that he learned during the bootcamp. Find out how this Canadian military veteran found his passion for web development by following the three pillars of CodeBoxx. Plus, since graduating, David has started teaching at CodeBoxx to pass on the education that changed his life – see his advice for other students!
What is your pre-bootcamp story and why did you decide to change careers?
I joined the Canadian Army when I was 18 years old. I made two deployments to Afghanistan, in 2006 and 2009, and in 2016, I was released from the Army on medical leave for PTSD. I decided to work on my mental health during medical leave and I became a mountain bike instructor in Quebec, teaching students how to ride through the mountains.
After two years, I was ready to make a career change. I heard about CodeBoxx on the radio and six days later, I was enrolled in their first cohort! With no time or preparation, I decided I was ready for the change and took the leap into a new beginning.
So you were a complete beginner when you started at CodeBoxx?
Yes, I was always interested in technology but I started the process at CodeBoxx as a beginner developer with no previous coding experience. Nicolas, the CEO of CodeBoxx, told me that anyone can do this career with a good attitude, so I felt confident that I could take on this challenge.
How did you pay for the tuition?
CodeBoxx offered a deferred tuition program, where they basically pay for the tuition up front. Then, when I got hired at my first job and only then, I repaid my tuition – that was equivalent to 20% of my salary for the first year.
What did you actually learn in the CodeBoxx curriculum?
Throughout CodeBoxx, the priority is always the three pillars of soft skills:
These were a great fit for me. If you develop those soft skills, then you’ll be successful as a developer.
Did you like the teaching style at CodeBoxx?
Learning at a bootcamp is totally different from regular school. I had personal experience with bootcamps from my time in the Army. Of course, that was in a different context, but it did align with my learning style. I personally enjoy the bootcamp setup because it's short, direct, and you're always learning in the context of a real company or a real job.
Learning at CodeBoxx is similar to learning on the job – the learning comes easier as you get more familiar with the company and the tasks expected of you. CodeBoxx was straight to the point and they didn't waste time on a lot of theory. We also each had a senior coach to ask questions and they offered good help. With a mentor by my side as a guide, I learned a lot.
What kinds of projects did you build at CodeBoxx?
To complete the course, we built projects for a specific fictitious company, Rocket Elevator, that acts as the client. We worked on projects that touched all the bases: from front end, back end development, to the full database equipped with Alexa skills. I appreciate that the projects at CodeBoxx provided real context around the jobs we’d be working on.
How did CodeBoxx prepare you for the developer job search?
I had no experience in web development when I started at CodeBoxx. Sixteen weeks later, I graduated and felt prepared for a career in coding. The CodeBoxx team prepared interviews for us so I felt confident and comfortable to start a new career after graduating CodeBoxx. It made all the difference to have support from the team, to be able to ask good questions, prepare for the interview and present to a company. I felt ready for the workforce after finishing my program at CodeBoxx.
What was your first job after graduating from CodeBoxx?
Two weeks before the end of the course, I received an offer to work at PodBoxx. It was amazing! The first day at PodBoxx was overwhelming – I opened up their GitHub and thought, “Wow, this is a huge repo!” But I kept in touch with my mentor and they reminded me of my time at CodeBoxx – how every week I’d go into the class feeling overwhelmed by a topic I didn’t understand, and how by the end of the week, I felt confident in the new tool I’d learned! I applied that mentality to my job at PodBoxx when I didn’t know how to use React. I kept in mind the three pillars of CodeBoxx and put all of it into practice: excellence in execution, going the extra mile, and keeping a nimble and flexible mindset.
How have you grown as a developer over the past two years?
CodeBoxx taught me a lot about coding, but I’ve also learned about the business side of things. I’m learning that with a good attitude, effort, and time, you can do anything. There are so many differences between the world of the army, school, and tech, but I learned a lot about flexibility to be able to adapt to any given environment.
Two years after graduating, I’ve been promoted and have more responsibility at PodBoxx, thanks to the skills I learned at CodeBoxx. I have two developers working under me. I’m sure that none of this would have happened without CodeBoxx. I work in a company that I love and appreciate. And I always remind myself that I don’t have to sleep outside like I did when I was in the military! I am grateful for the experience of CodeBoxx.
Reflecting on the past two years, was CodeBoxx worth it for you?
CodeBoxx changed my life. It was a huge turnover and led to a new life for me. There are a lot of people in my situation; each person has a story. Since graduating, I’ve actually come back to CodeBoxx as an instructor because I think that if it worked for me, then it could work for others. I am paying forward the education that I received and it feels good. If it changed my life, maybe it can change other’s lives, too.
Is web development or software engineering a career that you would suggest to other military veterans?
Yes, I absolutely recommend coding as a career option for military veterans. The soft skills you learn in the military, like collaboration and teamwork, translate well into coding.
I’ve already told some other veteran friends about CodeBoxx and they’ve signed up and love it. There are parallels – obviously one is a physical bootcamp and the other is a mental bootcamp, but the principle is the same. In the Army and CodeBoxx alike, bootcamp is fast. You have to be able to adapt and focus on the task. There are no breaks – bootcamp is quick and straight to the point.
CodeBoxx helped me learn how each step progresses into the next, how each step is important to reaching the end goal. Sometimes you learn things that don’t apply to your real life, but it didn’t feel like that at CodeBoxx. Tools we learned at CodeBoxx are applicable in bootcamp and after.
As a CodeBoxx graduate and instructor, what’s your advice for a friend who is about to start at CodeBoxx? Is there anything you wish you had known?
Never give up. Keep your head up. Don't look back. Live with the three CodeBoxx pillars. Focus on what's happening in front of you. You’ll look back a few years later and be amazed at what you’ve done.
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