Alumni Spotlight

How LearningFuze’s In-Person Learning Helped Launch Joseph’s Tech Career

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Last updated on July 7, 2022

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Many coding bootcamps shifted to live online learning, but not everyone likes to learn remotely. Fortunately, there are still in-person bootcamps like LearningFuze available!

LearningFuze’s in-person classroom cuts down on the distractions and gives students more instructional support, which is what stood out to Joseph Nguyen when he was choosing a coding bootcamp. Joseph got the camaraderie he needed to make a career change in 6 months. Now Joseph is working on the platform team at McGraw Hill, earning double his previous salary, and he shares his tips about how to set yourself apart when applying for your first tech role after LearningFuze.

Why did you decide to pivot your career into software engineering?

I majored in math during college because I wanted to become a math teacher. I got my credentials and entered the teaching field, but there were a lot of challenges right away. The hours were crazy, the pay was humble, and the job market wasn’t good. I transitioned out of teaching and ended up in a Quality Control Specialist role for math content at a tech company called ALEKS, and that's when I started to understand web development. At ALEKS, I met an alumni from LearningFuze who told me about the coding bootcamp.

Did you teach yourself how to code at all before the bootcamp? 

I have a more traditional math background and my first taste of coding was with Python in my senior year of college. I was trying to teach myself computer engineering while working at ALEKS.

There are so many coding bootcamps out there now — Why did you choose LearningFuze?

I definitely applied to LearningFuze because of the LearningFuze grad I spoke to. He gave a glowing review of the bootcamp. After hearing the good things he had to say about it, I knew it would be a worthy investment. 

Since COVID-19 was still rampant when I was applying to the bootcamp, it wasn’t a priority of mine to be at an in-person bootcamp. But after going through LearningFuze’s in-person bootcamp, I can tell you that it did help me out to have in-person classes.

What was the LearningFuze application process like for you?

I had to take a couple of tests from home. They gave me 48 hours, but it only took a couple of hours for me to complete them. One test was a series of multiple choice questions related to HTML and CSS which I didn’t know anything about. The second half of the test was a JavaScript challenge. LearningFuze provided all the resources you might need to learn about CSS and HTML so it was more of a test on your ability to read documentation and pick up concepts.

Did you have to complete any prework?

There was a series of modules with videos that other students had to go through, but I was able to skip them because I had some background in Python and math. There was also an online Web Development Prep Course we completed before the bootcamp started.

How did you make the LearningFuze tuition work for your budget? 

There were general discounts for being referred by another student and paying tuition early. 

What was a typical day or week like in LearningFuze’s in-person Web Development bootcamp? 

I completed the bootcamp entirely in-person. A typical day started with two hours of instruction followed by 20-minute breaks and a lunch break. 

One cool thing about the bootcamp was it had a flipped classroom structure. Instead of having the instructors lecture before giving us assignments, they assign the classwork and give the readings. We pick up the material and after that we would come together to discuss our solutions. 

Did the teaching style at LearningFuze match how you personally learn?

The teaching style at LearningFuze matched my own. The flipped classroom style allowed me to learn at my own pace rather than trying to struggle along with an instructor lecturing at the front. It allowed me to take my time to truly understand the concepts. Our instructors were knowledgeable, helping us gain a deeper understanding of a lot of what we were learning.

What were your instructors like?

One of my instructors, Cody, was also a former teacher who decided to become a web developer and he taught the first half of my cohort. He was great at answering questions, explaining the fundamentals of coding, and fostering a good learning environment. 

Our instructor Tim taught the second half of my cohort. He was a wealth of knowledge and was also very approachable with a lot to offer the program.

What did you learn in the curriculum at the in-person Web Development Bootcamp?

The curriculum at LearningFuze was amazing and I could tell it was well-thought-out. One of my instructors made the curriculum and he’s constantly going through iterations to see what works and what doesn’t. He’s always improving it.

During my cohort, we touched on JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Node.js, Git, PostgreSQL, and React. We also did something called code-reading where we would practice reading code that someone else wrote.

What was the in-person community like at LearningFuze?

It was great! I still talk to everyone from my cohort. We meet regularly and talk about things like the job search and coding in general. I would say we’re life-long friends. Being in-person helped with getting support from classmates. Most of the cohort wasmade up of college graduates that weren’t finding much success with our current degrees and we wanted to make a career shift.

Since we had all been in lockdown through the pandemic, we had zero interactions with other people until we signed up for the in-person bootcamp. The first people we interacted after lockdown with were our classmates.

The work environment was much better on campus than working online from home. It was much easier to get into a flow state because everyone around you is coding and you’re surrounded by it. There aren’t as many distractions as when I was trying to learn at home. 

What kinds of projects did you work on at LearningFuze?

There were two big projects during the bootcamp:

  • The first project was midway through the bootcamp, and we called it the AJAX project because it was a front end project that utilizes AJAX requests. We could build whatever we wanted, but that was the only constraint. The instructors were there to help put it together. I did a calendar because I like to be organized. I implemented a weather API so you could see the current weather in the calendar, too. I had a lot of fun making it.
  • The second and final project had to be a full stack project. Everything else was up to us. I ended up making a chess app which used a lot of algorithms. I opted to make it multiplayer instead of challenging an AI because I thought using web sockets to send requests to users would be more marketable. The algorithm-side turned out to be more marketable, but I still had a lot of fun with it.

Did you work on your projects on campus?

We had two weeks to work on it on campus and some time on the weekends. Some of my cohort-mates worked on theirs over the weekend, but I didn’t work on it too much outside of campus time.

Was there a demo day at LearningFuze?

We had an online demo day. There were a lot of employers there and I ended up getting an interview from one of them!

How did LearningFuze prepare you for the job hunt?

The career services team was great because I had been fumbling around with software engineering on my own and I didn’t know what I needed to do to land a job or if I was doing anything right. Having someone help you out and tell you what needs to be done was incredibly helpful. 

They started prepping us early for the job hunt and it was thorough. We worked on portfolios, LinkedIn profiles, mock interviews, and whiteboard interviews. There was a lot of prep stuff to prepare our portfolios for the job hunt and there was a lot of support whenever we applied for jobs. The careers team was always available and willing to help us out with the job hunt. They were instrumental for a lot of my interviews.

There’s also whiteboard practice sessions after the bootcamp that’s run by other alumni. When we finished the bootcamp, a few classmates and I did daily standups that mimicked the workplace feel. We talked about things like what we were doing for the job hunt.

Which tech roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from LearningFuze?

I applied everywhere, even if I was unqualified. I felt confident applying to jobs that needed up to two years of experience. I even felt confident applying to jobs requiring more experience or a different tech stack than the one we learned at the bootcamp. Even if I didn’t know it, I felt confident I could learn it. 

Now you’re a Software Engineer at McGraw Hill! How did you get the job?

ALEKS (where I worked before) is actually a branch of McGraw Hill, so I’m technically working for McGraw Hill through ALEKS. I think my previous experience at ALEKS was helpful for getting the first interview and I know my manager put in a good word for me. Other than that, I went through the same interview process as everyone else. 

It was a series of three interviews. The first was behavioral with a little bit of technical content. The second interview was extremely technical — an hour-long interview with algorithmic problems and real-world scenarios. The last round was a series of interviews with senior members like the CTO and senior software engineer managers.

Was McGraw Hill interested in your bootcamp education? 

They were interested since they already hired someone from LearningFuze. They asked me about the React that I learned at LearningFuze, and I think it was because they are interested in implementing it at the company.

McGraw Hill is a big company! What is your tech team like?

I’m actually working with all my old coworkers from ALEKS, including the LearningFuze grad who told me on the bootcamp — we’re on the same team! 

Before as a QC specialist for this team, I was in charge of making sure the math was right on homework assignments for textbooks and education content. Now I’m working with the platform team dealing with interfaces for the teachers and students.

Are you using everything that you learned from LearningFuze now on the job?

For the most part! I’m using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. My company is more of an exception since we use Vanilla JavaScript for the vast majority of our work whereas other companies would use React and Node.js. Our company is in the process of implementing React as we speak. 

So far, is this the career that you expected?

Software engineering is way better than I thought it would be. I thought I would start at a lower-end job coming out of a bootcamp, but I’m already working at a prestigious company and the pay is good. Since making this career change, I have nearly doubled my previous income after just six months — that’s been mind-blowing.

Looking back on this career change journey, was LearningFuze worth it for you? 

Absolutely — 100 percent! I think I paid $12,000 overall to do the bootcamp and I’ve doubled my income since then. I’ve already paid back the cost of the bootcamp with interest and I’ve come out far ahead, so it was definitely worth it.

Any words of advice for incoming bootcamp students?

If you’re struggling, reach out to your instructors for more resources, for help with your projects, and help with understanding the subjects. 

If you’re ahead with your learning, reach out to them for new things to learn that aren’t necessarily in the curriculum.

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

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.

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