Alumni Spotlight

How Kevin Became a Software Engineer with Springboard

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Jennifer Inglis

Edited By Jennifer Inglis

Last updated on April 18, 2024

Course Report strives to create the most trust-worthy content about coding bootcamps. Read more about Course Report’s Editorial Policy and How We Make Money.

When Kevin Nichols couldn’t progress further working in outdoor retail, he decided to pivot his career into tech. He chose Springboard for their 10-month Software Engineering Career Track Bootcamp, which offers a self-paced curriculum supported by dedicated mentors, peers, and career coaches. With its deferred tuition payment option, Kevin was able to fully focus on building a professional project portfolio to use in his job search. His commitment to the process has since landed him an entry-level developer role at an insurance broker with a $38K salary increase!

What inspired you to launch a career in software engineering in 2024?

My interest in software engineering was piqued as a way to get out of the outdoor retail industry that I’d been working in for six years. I worked my way up in bike shops until I hit a ceiling and got tired of working long hours. I knew I wanted to go back to school, but I didn’t want to go the traditional route. I already had an associate degree in computer science, but then I fell into the outdoor industry and never left. Growing up, I thought that to be a developer you had to be great at math, but it’s just not true! I learned about bootcamps from my brother-in-law and I dove into researching the right bootcamp for me.  

There are so many coding bootcamps now — Why did you choose Springboard?

I used Course Report to help me decide on the right bootcamp because it can be very confusing to weigh out the pros and cons of each program! A lot of them are very similar, but what steered me toward Springboard was the ample student support and that it was a nine-month program compared to other three-month programs that seemed rushed and unrealistic. Springboard shows its commitment to student success by offering an extra month of support for those entering the space as a complete beginner. 

Did Springboard’s tuition refund guarantee figure into your decision?

The tuition refund guarantee at Springboard was definitely a deciding factor for me — essentially, if you don't have a job after six months, you get your money back. It gave me confidence in the program as well as the incentive to pull my weight to be successful. 

To receive the job guarantee, I had to pass the tests at the end of the course and then apply for a number of jobs per week. I had to initiate several informational interviews per month by reaching out to people in the industry and talking to them about their experiences. I also had to meet with my career coach at least once every two weeks. Even without the job guarantee, Springboard still offers six months of career support after graduating. 

Did you receive special financing through Springboard?

I enrolled in Springboard’s deferred tuition. I didn’t want to work full-time while attending this bootcamp, so I saved up enough to pay for my living expenses but not enough to pay for the bootcamp. Being able to take out a loan meant that I could focus all my energy on the self-paced course. Plus, the loan didn’t accrue any interest until the repayment period began after graduating. 

Now that you’re a few months out from Springboard graduation, has deferred tuition worked for you?

Yes! Springboard offered a grace period after I got my new job so I could have a few paychecks under my belt before starting repayment. Also, the rate is based on your salary, which makes repayment doable. The term is for 36 months, but I am not going to take that long to pay it back. The faster you pay it off, the less interest you incur, so I'm going to do everything I can to repay that faster. I’m trying to make double payments every month so I can cut that time in half. 

What was a typical day like in the Software Engineering Career Track bootcamp

For each Springboard student, every day is going to be vastly different depending on their lifestyle and whether they’re working or not. I was used to working full-time, so I treated the bootcamp like my full-time job. I got up in the morning and got to work on the syllabus, which is self-paced. There are pre-recorded videos of Colt Steele teaching how to write code in a scaffolded approach, where everything builds on itself. The curriculum is video-heavy with correlating documentation to follow along with and it felt just like learning from a live person, it was so relatable and easy to understand. 

After watching the videos, there would be an exercise covering a specific topic. There are also code-along exercises to work on during the video. To help stay on target, Springboard has a study plan, which tells you roughly where you should be in the curriculum at any given time. I found it super helpful and tried to stick to it as much as possible.

On average, how many hours a day did you commit to the bootcamp?

I started strong, doing 6-8 hour days, trying to get the bootcamp done as fast as possible. I found it helpful to get ahead so that I was covered down the road if I got sick or something came up. As I progressed with the program, I saw the benefit of taking things slower and spending more time studying topics at my own pace. One downside to learning at a fast pace is that there is less time built in for repetition, so I had to prioritize studying what I needed more of. 

What did the Software Engineering Career Track cover?

It was very heavy in JavaScript. We also did SQL, then Python for object-oriented programming, and we learned frameworks within all of those, primarily React (which works with JavaScript) and Flask (which works with Python). It covered front end, databases, and back end, and then frameworks within those. Lots of jobs work within these languages, so that was very helpful!

Tell us about your mentor at Springboard! How did they support you throughout the bootcamp?

My mentor was Michael, who is a Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of North Hampton, just outside London. I felt like I scored by getting a professor as a mentor! He’s been in the industry forever, has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Glasgow Caledonian University, and has worked in C-based languages, which are some of the hardest coding languages. 

As all Springboard students do, we met every week for ten months at a set date and time. The sessions started more structured to make sure I was on track to finish the course. Once he knew I was “in it to win it,” it felt like we were friends. I have to admit that I felt an emptiness when I graduated and we didn’t have our weekly meetings. After all that time, we got to know each other (my study habits, how I learn best, and the way I accept criticism), and he showed up for me in all the ways I expected from a successful mentor. 

We’re still in touch on LinkedIn and he was proud of me when I told him I got my job. Michael is hopefully someone I’ll stay connected with for the rest of my life. He supported me through some dark times, while I drastically changed my life. He reminded me why I was embarking on this self-bettering journey and grounded me in my purpose. It’s easy to fall into imposter syndrome, but he encouraged me by reminding me that if this were easy, everyone would do it. He would tell me that I was doing great, which was invaluable to keep me going. 

Did you use Springboard’s new AI chatbot as you made your way through the bootcamp?

The AI chatbot came out in the middle of my cohort and they offered all students the chance to sign up to be an alpha tester, so I did a lot of testing on that and gave feedback to help polish it. It’s super helpful as a tool to answer questions before you have to reach out to TAs, who are incredibly knowledgeable and nice people! I always feel like I’m bothering someone when I ask for help, so having the AI chatbot is great for introverts who don't always want to reach out to a human being for a question. 

At the end of the bootcamp, how many projects did you have in your portfolio?

We worked on so many projects, it’s hard to count! I decided to only include my two capstone projects and one project I made post-completion in my portfolio. One was built in Python and the other in React with JavaScript, showcasing the two ends of the spectrum that we learned at Springboard. My third project was in TypeScript, which is an optional section at the very end of the course. I built an app in Angular using TypeScript because the job I was applying for used them and I wanted to prove I could work with them. 

Did you use these projects as talking points in job interviews?

In the job I hold currently, there were four rounds of interviewing and in at least two of them, I talked through the projects and a brief overview of what they do. It seemed helpful for them to see that I had practical experience with making things applicable to their work. I link my GitHub account on my resume so they can see all the activity in my GitHub, which you will accrue as a student at Springboard. As a Springboard student, you’re constantly pushing changes and repositories to GitHub so there's a lot of activity on there — this is a good look for you when looking for jobs!

What is the community like at Springboard? Are you able to connect with other Springboard students and alumni?

You definitely can. There is a Slack channel for all of Springboard, then individual rooms for different cohorts so you can talk about questions and projects and get feedback from people who are at a similar place in the curriculum. There are also ways that community is built into the curriculum, like when we were assigned to post something to the Slack channel and get feedback on it or when we worked with a career coach who encouraged us to connect with other Springboard students on LinkedIn. The community that I interacted with most was through LinkedIn. 

I have spoken with a lot of Springboard students since graduating. I even had an informational interview with a Springboard student who is currently looking for a job and now I'm that guy with the job who's telling them how I got it! 

How did Springboard prepare you for the job hunt? 

I didn’t realize the value of Springboard’s career services until after I finished the program, but it is one of the most valuable things about Springboard. I don't know how many bootcamps offer the extensive career coaching that Springboard does! Each student chooses a career coach based on bios. The career coaches hold you accountable; they tell you what to fix and they give you suggestions on your resume and LinkedIn. 

On top of all of that, they have mandatory mock interviews that are so realistic I felt the actual pressure and nervousness of real interviews. The mock interviews include:

  • A behavioral interview to get to know you as a person
  • A whiteboarding interview
  • A technical interview
  • A project walkthrough

You get multiple chances to pass, but you have to pass the mock interview stage to get the job guarantee. 

How long did it take you to land your first software engineering job after Springboard?

I landed my job about two months after graduating from Springboard, which is really fast, uncommon, and lucky!

What strategies worked for you in your tech job search?

I turned in a ton of applications and I reached out to a lot of people on LinkedIn asking for informational interviews. I found that senior developers at companies are much more apt to respond to you than junior developers! 

Ultimately, I landed my job because of someone I knew in my network. When I began my search, I hated hearing that “it’s who you know” is an important part of job-hunting because how do you know who's the right person to know? The answer to that is everyone. Tell every employed person you know that you're looking for a job because almost every company hires developers! I got my job through a referral from a friend of mine. Obviously, my resume was correct and I have the abilities, but would they have ever talked to me as seriously as they did without that internal referral? It’s hard to know. 

Tell us about your new tech role at Johnson and Johnson, Inc

Johnson and Johnson is an insurance broker, and I never would have sought it out in the job hunt, which proves why you should stay open-minded with your job search. No matter how obscure you think a company is, nearly every company needs developers! Luckily, this company is in town and allows me to work a hybrid schedule. It’s an entry-level role, which is what I was looking for. The salary was more than I expected — I’ve seen a life-changing $38K salary increase from what I made before Springboard! 

What were the tech interviews like?

I felt over-prepared for my interviews — they were significantly easier than the mock interviews at Springboard! Not everyone's experience will be like that, but mine was nothing compared to the mock interviews. I had four interviews with Johnson and Johnson, including a meeting with a talent recruiter who told me about the company; an interview with a manager; a peer interview in front of five people; and finally a meeting with HR where they offered me the job.

At no point was there any very technical whiteboarding, which I contribute to this company valuing the ability to learn on the job more than existing knowledge. They realize that no matter how much you learn in school or bootcamp, you're never going to know everything you’ll need on the job.

What kinds of projects are you working on now?

It's a full stack role working with TypeScript, SQL, and C#. Knowing SQL was a big selling point for this company! I've been working on databases and writing queries. I have done some front end in Angular and TypeScript, and I have also done some work in C#, pulling from APIs. 

Are you using AI tools on the job?

Yes! We’ve started using GitHub Copilot and can use any AI tools we need so long as it works for the job. 

At this point in your career, was Springboard worth it for you? 

I would not be in the position I am now without Springboard. That's the reality of it. I absolutely could not have done what I did without their help. It's difficult to find a job right now, even as a bootcamp graduate with an associate degree. If you don't have a college degree, some people won't even consider you! To have Springboard behind me holds weight. It was invaluable to have a fully fleshed-out curriculum intentionally designed to get me hired as a software engineer

What is your advice for making the most out of the Springboard experience? Anything you wish you knew before you enrolled?

  1. Shut down the imposter syndrome. I wish I knew that emotionally it was going to be harder than I thought and that you have to believe that you can do it. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true. The imposter syndrome is going to get to you. If you haven't been in this industry or you have little to no coding experience, you're going to question if you’re cut out for it. You have to shut that down because everyone has been in the same position. It helped me to find other people who have been through this, or go to the Slack channel and ask, “Does anyone else feel completely overwhelmed?” and get a resounding “Yes!” We’re all in the same boat, rowing together. 
  2. Mentally, don't rush yourself. Everyone says that the core fundamentals are the most important part and that’s absolutely true. I don't care how boring it is, you have to be solid in the fundamentals. If you skim over those, it's going to hang you up later in the course, in your job, in interviews, etc. Learn the fundamentals; study them, practice them, and get them in your head.

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

About The Author

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps. With a background in writing, teaching, and social media management, Jess plays a pivotal role in helping Course Report readers make informed decisions about their educational journey.

Also on Course Report

Get our FREE Ultimate Guide to Paying for a Bootcamp

By submitting this form, you agree to receive email marketing from Course Report.

Get Matched in Minutes

Just tell us who you are and what you’re searching for, we’ll handle the rest.

Match Me