Daniel Aguirre was working construction in 2021 and decided it was time to focus on making a career out of coding. Daniel enrolled at TrueCoders because of its solid coding foundation, dedicated instructors, flexible scheduling, and committed career coach. Daniel graduated from the online bootcamp and landed a .NET Developer job with Nexient, a hiring partner of TrueCoders! Daniel shares how he made this career change work amidst a pandemic and parenthood and whether he thinks TrueCoders was worth the investment.
What inspired you to make a career change into software development in 2021?
I was working construction in a trailer plant before I went to TrueCoders. I was already interested in programming, and I taught myself C# for about two years. Learning how to code was really hard to do while working full-time and raising a family.
When I got an opportunity to quit my job to focus on learning how to code, my wife started working so I could go through the TrueCoders coding bootcamp. It's been great because it's something I'd done before, and I enjoy problem-solving and the ability to create things just by writing lines of code. I decided to take the class and ended up working with Nexient!
There are so many coding bootcamps out there now — why did you choose TrueCoders?
One of the things that really set TrueCoders apart was their alumni success rate. They've since switched to all online classes, but while they were doing in-person programs, they had near 100% success/placement rate. TrueCoders teaches the fundamentals you need to know to get you started in tech.
At the end of the day, you're going to start in an entry-level position, so you're not expected to know everything right away, but TrueCoders teaches what you need to know to get you into the career. That's what made us decide to go with TrueCoders.
What was the TrueCoders application process like for you?
It was really easy for me because my wife handled talking to TrueCoders and making the payment! All I had to do was sign into a Discord server. Once I got into the Discord server, I had connections to all the instructors, other students, and I was able to get started from there.
What did the Software Engineering bootcamp curriculum cover at TrueCoders?
We started off covering Git because source control is really important. We used Git throughout the course to push our projects out. Each time we did a lesson, we would push it out through GitHub for the instructor to look at it.
Did the teaching style at TrueCoders match your personal learning style?
The teaching style fit me. I like to learn by doing, so being hands-on is best for me. The day started with doing a quiz to recap what we did the day before, then the instructor would teach what you would do that day, then you'd do it. If you still didn't get it, you could read the document that teaches everything you just learned that day.
Whether you learn from watching people, hearing them talk about it, doing it yourself, reading it, or doing the quiz recap the next day, there are so many different ways that TrueCoders enforces what you're learning.
How did you juggle parenting with excelling in an online bootcamp?
Juggling the bootcamp with parenting was easier for me because my kids were in school. I was in the bootcamp from 9am-3pm, and sometimes I would spend extra hours after class to reinforce the content. When my kids were home, I would turn my camera off so my class couldn't see them running around. The lectures are recorded so if you need to miss a day, you can watch them. You can also do a 1:1 with the teacher if you're not understanding something because you got distracted.
If you do have a lot going on in your life, TrueCoders offers a Flex plan, which you can switch to if you need to. If you're halfway through the course, you can switch to Flex easily. Or, you can jump back in when the next course starts up. TrueCoders is very flexible and understands that life happens. Plus, the instructors are there to help you out if you have to catch up.
What kinds of projects did you build at TrueCoders?
Most of the projects were exercises for what you learned that day. While the smaller projects implement core focuses, the later projects teach you about working with APIs and databases. I enjoyed working with APIs and databases, and I used these class projects on my resume! Even the fundamentals we learned for smaller projects are usable on a resume — they can be expanded upon which makes them more valuable.
An example of a project we did was taking a CSV file (what you might get from Excel) and getting GPS locations from it. It was cool working with geo-coordinates.
How did TrueCoders prepare you for the job hunt?
TrueCoders has a Career Workshop, and I went to their one-hour meetings twice a week. From the beginning, TrueCoders encouraged us to attend these meetings. I tried to go to all of them, but if I couldn't make it live, I could always go back and watch the recording. It's really up to you to make your way through your career. They suggest getting your resume ready from day one and they help get your LinkedIn set up.
You can always do a 1:1 with a career coach to help you get prepared. Whether it's straightening your resume, answering questions, or helping you figure out what job you want to look for, the career coaches at TrueCoders help you go over all of that as often as you need to. Just schedule an appointment and figure out what it is you need to work on.
Were you able to use your bootcamp projects as talking points in job interviews?
I let employers know that I recently graduated from a bootcamp and they asked what one of my favorite projects was in the class. I used that as an opportunity to explain one of the different tools I honed during the bootcamp, which led them to focus the interview on what I was actually proficient in. That was great!
Whatever projects you focus on during the course, you can bring them into the conversation during your interview and use that as an advantage to show what you've learned.
Now you’re working as a Software Developer at the software development consulting company, Nexient! How did you get the job?
I got this job as a connection I got through TrueCoders. My TrueCoders instructor connected me with a recruiter from Nexient. After going through some basic questions with me, the recruiter gave me some feedback and then I went through the interview.
Did you feel prepared for the technical interview?
I definitely got help to get prepared for the technical interview even though there's always imposter syndrome to deal with. I was working with instructors at TrueCoders to get ready for the interview. I did some technical whiteboarding preparation, and although I didn't have a whiteboarding question in my interview, it gave me a chance to tell my future employer what it was that I wanted to focus on.
What kinds of projects are you working on at Nexient?
I'm currently on the .NET bench right now, so I haven't yet been assigned to client projects, and instead I’m continuing to learn. I'm working on an internal project that basically recreates a tool that teams can use to vote on how long a task might take. My project is creating all the back end for how an application would work to support that kind of tool. It's definitely been very interesting — I've learned a lot working on it.
As a new developer at Nexient, do you have a mentor to help support you?
Yeah! I have not only the Lead and the Manager supporting me, but when I first started I had a buddy they assigned to help me adjust to the transition during the first couple weeks. After that, they assigned a Career Coach to me to help me grow during my time there. Nexient is very focused on employee growth.
Are you already using everything you learned at TrueCoders on the job?
I've definitely learned a lot of new things, but a lot of what I've learned builds off what I learned at TrueCoders. We may learn to work with one tool in TrueCoders, and I work with a different tool at Nexient, but I understand how this tool works because of the one I learned at TrueCoders. TrueCoders didn’t just teach me how to use a tool, but taught the fundamentals of what that tool is doing. What I learned at TrueCoders definitely gave me that foundation to help me once I got into the workplace to continue to learn new tools without having to start over.
Do you have any advice for future TrueCoders students? Anything you wish you had known before you started?
First, I would say that it all depends on you. You can't go into the bootcamp expecting it will get you a job. You need to go through the course and learn the material, practice it, and if you have time, put in extra time and create new projects doing whatever interests you because that's how you're gonna learn: by practicing.
Keep an open mind and focus on continuing to learn. This is the kind of career where you'll be constantly learning and you have to be open to learning new things. You don't want to shut out something because it's new and hard to understand, because there are going to be a lot of things that are challenging and hard to understand. Keep going and try to figure it out on your own.
Reach out to your support system. Whether you're going through class with TrueCoders or on the job, you're gonna have support. Ask for help.
At the end of the day, try to figure it out on your own. If you can't, reach out and find support. But you have to put that work in. If you don't put the work in and actively try to learn, you're just wasting your time.
What has been the biggest challenge in this career change journey for you?
The biggest challenge is spending time away from my computer! I work at home now so I'm here at both my personal computer and my work computer all the time. I’m definitely working on finding a better balance with that.
At this stage in your tech career, was TrueCoders worth it for you?
TrueCoders was definitely worth it for me. I actively tell my friends that they should do it! Somebody that I used to work with at the trailer plant has gone through it. I had done some C# practice before going to the bootcamp, but he didn't have any previous experience with coding before getting into TrueCoders. He thought since I went through it and got a great job that he'd jump in! He's about a month into the bootcamp now and doing great, even though he's never done a line of code before — he's going through the course with no problems.
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