Alumni Spotlight

How this US Navy Vet Broke Into Tech with Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Last updated on September 27, 2021

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When the pandemic disrupted Andre’s job in the service industry, the U.S. Navy veteran decided it was time to launch his tech career. Impressed by its full stack curriculum, affordable tuition, and affiliation with Georgia Tech, Andre decided to enroll in Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp, offered in collaboration with edX. Andre shares how Georgia Tech Boot Camp’s instructors and career support gave him the confidence and knowledge base he needed to successfully land his first DevOps Engineer role!

What inspired you to pivot into a tech career?

When I was in the US Navy, I worked as an Electronic Technician, where I enjoyed working with small electronics. After the Navy, I attended Georgia State University but I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do, so I became a sous chef. At the start of the pandemic, I realized I had an opportunity to change my career path. I had an interesting conversation with an Iron Yard bootcamp graduate about full stack engineering and the tech industry, and that inspired me to start learning JavaScript on Codeacademy. 

With so many online boot camps to choose from, what stood out about Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp?

Name recognition means a lot to me, so I knew attending a boot camp being affiliated with Georgia Tech while living in Atlanta would lead to many connections. I had a friend who attended the Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp and wholeheartedly recommended them. The affordable tuition of the boot camp also made this an excellent option for me.

What was the Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp application process like for you?

The application was a fairly straightforward process, which included basic questions about software development. While you can be a beginner and enroll in the boot camp, it was helpful for me as a new boot camp student to have a basic understanding of coding. If you understand basic coding, you will be able to immerse yourself in the full boot camp experience without feeling like you’re constantly racing to fill a knowledge gap. 

Did you have to complete any pre-work before the boot camp began?

Yes! The boot camp pre-work includes ten courses covering the basics of web development. The pre-work is intended to set you up for success in the boot camp. 

What was a typical day like in Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp?

I was enrolled in the online full-time boot camp, which was 12 weeks long. Classes were held Monday through Friday from about 8:30am to 4:30pm. 

A typical day for me started with attending pre-class office hours from 8:30am to 9:00am. Then we had class via Zoom from 9:00am to 4:30pm with a few breaks during the day, including a one-hour lunch break. Instructors offered post-class office hours from 4:30pm to 5pm. At the end of each day, I would typically go offline for about an hour to rest and then would review material for another hour. 

What did you learn in the curriculum? 

The curriculum covered full stack coding languages and frameworks, including MongoDB, React, Express, Node.js, and Git. By the end of my boot camp, I knew how to take a project from ideation to execution. We covered how to build a database, servers, and applications. The boot camp curriculum makes learning additional technologies and frameworks much easier to understand. 

Did the online teaching style match your learning style?

It did! I loved learning from my boot camps subject-matter experts because their knowledge bubbled outside the boundaries of the curriculum. My instructor, Jonathan, was a great example of this, and I’m lucky he taught me. 

Were your instructors also professors at Georgia Tech or were they edX employees?

The instructors are only affiliated with the boot camp. My instructor was a contractor, and the Teaching Assistants were also associated with edX. 

Note from edX: Instructors are hired by edX and then must be reviewed and approved by the university before they begin teaching in the boot camp. 

Since you did this boot camp remotely, how did you connect with your cohort and instructors? 

During project days, my classmates and I would spend up to ten hours on Zoom together. There were periods of quiet, but there were also times when we were exchanging ideas and problem-solving. I didn’t know it then, but this was great preparation for what you see in the real world. This is what I do every day in my DevOps role now!

Tell us about your favorite project that you built during the bootcamp!

We completed two major projects during the boot camp. These projects required that we came up with something creative, unique, and realistic. My group came up with a project called Prometheus that helps users organize their closet and make outfits as well as discover what they don’t need and easily donate those items. 

In another group project, we created an app that allows community kitchens to provide updates on their pantry inventory. This app created a community for both those stocking the kitchens and those accessing the kitchen services, which was an essential offering during the pandemic.  The app allowed users to view local community kitchens so they could have quicker access to food and not waste time driving from kitchen to kitchen looking for food. 

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

My group presented our community kitchens app to our cohort and instructors. Presenting can be hard to do, so our demo day was a great opportunity to show that we could build this technology and communicate the idea. It was helpful practice for the real world as you attempt to sell your ideas and yourself. 

How did Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp prepare you for the job hunt

The boot camp helped me create my developer persona. We worked on updating my resume and created a LinkedIn presence that meshed with the tech industry. The boot camp offered bi-weekly, one-on-one career coaching. My career coach and I would talk about career resources and prospective jobs. She also held me accountable to my job search and ensured I put in the necessary work to get a job.

Which tech roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp?

At the time, none! I felt like such an imposter, which was made worse by LinkedIn when I was looking at the pool of candidates applying for the same jobs I applied for. My career coach reminded me that companies want employees who can learn on the job. Changing that initial mindset opened me up to roles I was familiar with, including JavaScript Developer, React Developer, and positions that included Node.js or Git.

You just landed a DevOps Engineer role through Pyramid Consulting! What was the interview process like to land that job? 

Pyramid Consulting is a firm that matches consultants with clients who need their expertise. I was excited about joining Pyramid Consulting because they are interested in upskilling their contractors. The contract lasts for one year and you are paired with a company. I had to complete both technical and personality interviews. The interviewers also brought up my portfolio with my boot camp projects in the interviews. 

Are you using all of the tools and languages that you learned at Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp?

I have had to learn new things daily in this new role, but I’m also using what I learned at the boot camp every day. You don’t attend a boot camp, get a tech job, and then drive around in your Tesla for the rest of your life — technology changes, so you will need to stay up on it. To be a developer means your life and career are a continuous boot camp! 

Do you recommend other recent boot camp grads consider contractor roles?

I recommend contracting roles as long as they make sense for your career goals, expertise, and experience in the field. 

Looking back on this experience, was enrolling at Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp worth it for you?

Absolutely. Where I am now as a DevOps Engineer versus where I was last year as a sous chef is entirely different. I am excited about my first anniversary of graduating from boot camp! I wouldn't be here without Trilogy or Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp. 

Do you recommend enrolling at the boot camp versus self-teaching?

It depends — some people can self-teach and gain the level of proficiency needed to achieve a tech career. Others need some support to learn a new skill set. A good analogy is exercising: Some people need personal trainers to motivate and guide them to a certain level so they can then continue on their own. 

What has been the biggest challenge in this career change journey so far?

My biggest challenge has been filling the imaginary and real knowledge gap. I never feel like I’ll know enough, and there is so much more to learn! You have to become a lifelong learner in this profession. 

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

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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