Rick Anglin hit a ceiling with his IT experience and knew he needed more education to level up. While working as a ranch hand, Rick scoured the internet looking for coding bootcamps. He chose Tech Elevator for their 90% hiring rate 3-6 months after graduating, plus their Pathway Program career support (even six months postgrad). Rick received multiple job offers before graduating and immediately started earning double his salary. Now, he’s sharing his advice to excel at Tech Elevator and what makes Tech Elevator’s Dallas campus a great tech hub.
What inspired you to get into software engineering in 2021?
I got an Associate Degree in Business Administration with the intention of becoming an entrepreneur, but when I heard about the low success rates for small businesses, I realized it was a bad idea for me. I then worked for an IT firm for eight years. I got great experience in this industry, but I felt like I reached a ceiling and couldn’t expand without any certifications or education. I pivoted to an IT support call center role, where I spent the next seven years until I decided call centers were not for me.
After that, I transitioned into all kinds of contract work. My most recent gig was as far from tech as I could get: I spent 7 months as a ranch hand with no cell service! It was amazing and a lot of hard work. I knew I was always heading back towards tech, so I began looking for a coding bootcamp with a guaranteed outcome of a certificate or qualification that would get my foot in the door to a career with more potential. After my stint as a ranch hand and enjoying the outdoors, I dug into Tech Elevator’s coding bootcamp.
Did you have any coding experience before you enrolled at Tech Elevator?
When I worked at the call center, I was an end user, so I had experience interacting with code but I have never done it myself.
There are so many coding bootcamps now -— What stood out about Tech Elevator?
Tech Elevator has a verified 90% hiring rate in 3-6 months, which was unmatchable by their competitors. The timing of the next cohort also aligned with my schedule.
Even though your cohort was based online, was it important to you that Tech Elevator has a campus in Dallas?
I was set to attend remotely since it was during the COVID pandemic, but I could see how under normal circumstances, it would be nice to have a physical campus. The pandemic taught everyone how to be better digital communicators, so in my cohort, we mastered connecting remotely. The physical space is irreplaceable when it comes to quick, personal interactions, but our remote experience went smoothly without the physical campus.
What is the Dallas tech scene like?
The Dallas tech scene is amazing! Plano in North Dallas is an absolute tech hub. From consulting firms to tech giants, it's a great spot to be in when you’re graduating from Tech Elevator.
What was Tech Elevator’s application process like for you?
Tech Elevator does test an individual's aptitude with two assessments. The first test gauged cognitive and thought-processing skills relevant to coding, and the second, longer test gauged our commitment and determination to ensure we were a good fit for the program.
Tech Elevator offers two learning paths: Java and C#. How did you choose which path to go with?
I had the attitude that either route I chose would lead me to plenty of opportunities. Since both programming languages are so prevalent, there’s no wrong decision between the two! I ended up choosing Java because that cohort aligned better with my schedule.
How did you make the bootcamp tuition work for you?
I didn't personally get scholarships, but out of the 40 bootcampers in our cohort, around 25 of them did receive scholarships or grants. I was in a unique position to be able to get a loan and I took out an additional $7,000 to cover the cost of my living expenses.
If you can, I highly recommend eliminating as many worries or stressors as possible while attending bootcamp. For me, that meant taking out a loan for tuition and living expenses. The bootcamp is a grueling, intense three months, so the fewer things to worry about to allow yourself concentration, the better you’ll do.
What did the Tech Elevator pre-work cover?
The pre-work is good exposure to what’s to come in the program and in this career. My advice is to take the pre-work seriously. Take it slow and treat it like it’s the real bootcamp because it’s a jumping off point into a packed three months that would normally take years to complete.
What was a typical day like once the actual bootcamp began?
On a typical day, we signed into the online portal, did our half-hour stand-up, then dove into the subject of the day. The beginning of each week felt the same, like taking baby steps into new territory, but by the end of the week I would feel more confident in what I knew. Then the next week would start and I’d feel like an imposter all over again! The curriculum at Tech Elevator is divided into three sections: back end, full stack, and front end.
The bootcamp hits you with a ton of information at once and it can be overwhelming in the moment when it feels like nothing is resonating. Then someone in my cohort would ask a question that confirms and validates what I know. Keep in mind that it will probably take a little time before you realize just how much you know!
[Related read >> An Inside Look: Week One in Tech Elevator’s Coding Bootcamp]
How does the blended learning-style work at Tech Elevator’s Dallas campus?
While I didn't get to participate in the blended learning in my cohort, I have gotten to do some alumni meet-ups at the Dallas campus. The campus is gorgeous!
Note from Tech Elevator’s Dallas team: Students at the Dallas campus have access to the facility to meet in-person for tutoring, career coaching and community events, or attend remotely when more convenient to them.
What is the community like at Tech Elevator?
Our lives were so entwined in this intense process that my cohort really bonded. We were all in this together at the same time, with the same deadlines and daily schedules. When one of us had a solid grasp on a concept, we'd offer to help the rest of the group or vice versa. Any of us could ask for help if we were totally lost. On top of that, we had dedicated instructors and Academic Fellows who constantly made themselves available to us should we feel like we were getting lost in the shuffle.
What kinds of projects did you work on in the bootcamp?
Our first big project was building a pay app called Tenmo, that could connect an account, sign up a user, and send and receive payments. We were surprised when we were able to do what we thought was impossible three days previously! Our instructors gave us some base code, but a lot of it we built from the ground up, making sure all of that functionality worked. This was the first point in the cohort where I felt like I was getting it — Seeing that knowledge turn into an actual working program was fun.
What did you build for your capstone project?
For the Capstone Project, my group built a comic trading website from scratch. We built it based off of the Marvel API! Navigating and working with it was validating and really fun. We built the functionality so users could add comics and trade them, and there were also social media aspects to the site, so users could comment on other people's collections. Our Capstone was something our whole group was really proud of.
Did you present your Capstone project on Demo Day?
The last day of the cohort we got to invite family, instructors, and potential employers to check out our projects. It reminded me of a science fair! People would move between the different presenting groups. We talked about our projects for about four hours, so we had our presentation down to a 10-minute loop.
How did Tech Elevator prepare you for the job hunt?
Tech Elevator's Pathway Program offered us career services while we completed the coding bootcamp. We worked with career specialists on our resume and preparing for the interview process. They connected us with companies that were hiring and also with other people in the roles we were seeking so we could gain insights on that job.
So, in just three months, Tech Elevator packs in the tech content, plus this expert knowledge on how to get into the tech business. You get connections within the industry, and so many other resources, which undoubtedly attributes to their job placement outcomes. Graduates leave the bootcamp supported and prepared to go get that job. If you have no idea how to land a job in tech, you will be an expert by the end of this program!
Does the Pathway Program continue to help bootcamp grads in their job search?
Tech Elevator’s Pathway Program provides six months of direct support, but I'm sure if you needed to help after that, they would still be there. That said, if you put in the effort to try to get a job, it would be surprising if you weren't hired before that six month point!
Which tech roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from Tech Elevator?
I went after any entry-level role I could find that had “beginner” or “junior'' in the title and that required 0-3 years experience. I applied to so many roles! At a certain point, it's a numbers game because a lot of people are also trying to get the same jobs.
How long did it take for you to land your first tech job after bootcamp?
I was offered a position before I graduated from the bootcamp! I connected with a Tech Elevator hiring partner that got me an interview for a good position with a tech consulting firm called Cognizant. After I finished the bootcamp, I soon started the three-month cohort for Cognizant's training program.
You’re now a Developer Consultant at Cognizant! What was the interview process like?
I did a behavioral interview similar to a typical interview. Cognizant is familiar with Tech Elevator, so they knew the caliber of technical work I had completed — they knew I had survived three months of intensive training, which is what they were looking for. The projects and GitHub resources I built during the bootcamp were enough to get me through the hiring process.
Since I had applied for so many different roles before I accepted any offer, I got to take three different tech interviews with other companies that went smoothly. I also received other offers beyond the one that I accepted, so I got to pick the role I wanted! Since Cognizant was offering me more education with this role, I went with them because they were clearly willing to invest in my learning.
What kinds of projects are you working on as a Developer Consultant?
At the moment, I'm on what's called "the bench.” In consulting, you wait to get put on projects, but while you're waiting, your job is to learn. Currently my responsibilities are learning and training. The material is self-guided and I have a ton of tools at my disposal. Once I'm on a project as a consultant, I will work with businesses to develop products for them that will make their life and business easier.
What went into that Cognizant training program?
It's a three-month cohort with a mixture of lectures from instructors and people that work at the firm. The lectures cover different, relevant topics about consulting work. It feels similar to a collegiate experience. Now that I'm further in the training, I'm starting to shadow so I can get a feel for what I will be doing when I'm done with training.
Are you using everything you learned at Tech Elevator on the job?
At Tech Elevator, I just spent three months learning Java, and now I'm learning a new but similar language, but they work in similar ways. The base knowledge that I picked up at Tech Elevator definitely supports me in learning new languages on the job.
At this point in your career journey, was Tech Elevator worth it for you?
Absolutely. I'm already making double my salary from what I've made before, plus I’m on a trajectory of making quadruple that within a couple of years. It's a great feeling. Within the first two years, I will have anything that I borrowed for the bootcamp paid off — I may even be able to pay it all off in a year. Paying for my bootcamp loans now won't put me back at all.
The bootcamp is hard work, but those three months have absolutely changed my life for the better. I went from surviving and barely managing, to immediately financially thriving right after graduating! I’m on my way to make more money than I’ll know what to do with.
So far, is this the tech career that you expected when you enrolled at Tech Elevator?
I wasn’t expecting to go down a path of consulting. I thought I’d be in a more traditional developer role, but it’s been exciting to realize the range of these new skills and the accessible career paths. During the Pathway Program, we took personality tests to determine our strengths so we could lean into them. I noticed that the majority of the cohort was very analytical, which feels more typical of people that gravitate to programming. I was different because I was more extroverted and social. If you're like me and may think your extroversion doesn't fit in the world of coding and programming, think again! You can certainly find positions that lean into those strengths. Programming is not just for Silicon Valley introverts! Coding is for everybody.
What advice would you give a friend starting at Tech Elevator’s Dallas campus? Anything you wish you knew?
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