Lee and Danny graduated from DigitalCrafts three years ago and both recommended DigitalCrafts to their significant others. Now, Danny’s wife Kim and Lee’s husband Tait are graduating from DigitalCrafts – read the advice they got about applying to DigitalCrafts, overcoming imposter syndrome, the benefits of failure, and how to stand out in the job interview! Find out how these families decided to future-proof their careers amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether they say DigitalCrafts was worth it.
Lee & Danny, why did you recommend DigitalCrafts – and more generally, programming as a career – to your Kim & Tait?
Danny: It's an amazing time to be a software engineer because coding is the future. As computers continue to be large parts of our lives, I believe that coding languages in one form or another will become a part of the curriculum in schools. Programming welcomes exciting career opportunities, as so many industries are being revolutionized by new software and algorithms.
Lee: To me, it made sense to enter a programming career, as everything moves toward a more digital footprint. Tait and I both got hit by economic downturns this year, but this field has more security, stability, and a lot of opportunities for growth and change. It also offered a better sense of future-proofing going forward and made sense for us.
Tait & Kim, what stood out to you about DigitalCrafts?
Tait: I did a bit of research before I decided on DigitalCrafts, but ultimately, since I’d already seen Lee go through the program and knew what it would be like, it seemed like a safer option to me to attend DigitalCrafts than to try another bootcamp. It was a huge advantage to see someone else go through the process.
Kim: Watching Danny go through the program definitely gave me a biased opinion, but I knew I wanted the challenge of an immersive program; I wanted to learn as much as I could as quickly as possible, so I knew I wanted to go there. I’ve seen some other people go through other programs, but I think the outcomes have been stronger from DigitalCrafts. Danny has recommended several people to DigitalCrafts who have all been successful coming out of the program.
Tait & Kim, were your partners able to help you with the application process?
Tait: Lee definitely gave me guidance to make sure I could do it, but the application process was pretty straightforward. DigitalCrafts did a beginner-friendly coding challenge. So much of coding is being able to use the internet as a resource, so the coding challenge was a good introductory process.
Tait & Kim, tell us about learning remotely during COVID-19. What are you actually learning in the curriculum and what was the DigitalCrafts teaching style like?
Kim: DigitalCrafts hosted our first day in the classroom – they had a pretty wide open, safe area for us to come into. I enjoyed it, but the teacher was still remote, so with traffic it made more sense to stay home. I enjoyed the remote learning opportunity because it offered more time before and after class to work on homework and stay immersed in the material without having to fight the Atlanta commute. Zoom's been a great platform - everyone has an opportunity to speak if they'd like to, the teachers are super passionate and informative, and they keep a fast pace.
Tait: I enjoyed learning on Zoom. I started at the height of COVID, so there was no option of going in-person. It was an advantage to learn coding remotely, since I want to land a remote position. I feel like it will prepare me for the job. Obviously no commute is wonderful!
Lee and Danny, you both went to DigitalCrafts first a few years ago – how have your careers evolved over the past years?
Lee: DigitalCrafts helped me get my first serious role in the tech field. I've been working as a Scrum Master for cPanel for the last two years. In a twist of fate, one of the managers I now work with at cPanel came to our demo day while I was a student at DigitalCrafts and encouraged me to apply. Little did they know, I’d already applied that morning! I landed the job 2-3 weeks after graduation and I've enjoyed being with them. I recently accepted a new role for an education tech company that’s still in startup mode, as a Technical Project Manager. It’s a huge jump for me and it all started from learning everything at DigitalCrafts.
It's been really cool – in three years, I went from scraping by as a teacher to being able to buy a house this year. There was a point last year when Tait got laid off due to COVID and we had a few moments we were sweating. But we realized that I work in tech now and knew that it would work itself out. It’s a game changer to know that your training will ensure financial security. This year has been so much easier than it would have been if we were still trying to get by on a teacher’s salary.
Did you learn Scrum at DigitalCrafts?
Lee: We learned a little bit of Scrum and project management at DigitalCrafts. There was another student who'd worked with Scrum before and we were able to talk about what it would look like. I got an opportunity to practice the skill sets in class.
Since graduation, I’ve been able to return to DigitalCrafts and talk about doing Agile and being a Scrum Master for different cohorts, including Tait's class. I try to incorporate project management tools into the curriculum and it's been a good shift. A handful of people reached out to me who want to go into project management.
Danny, what kinds of jobs have you had since graduating from DigitalCrafts?
Danny: My career has majorly evolved. When I went to DigitalCrafts, Rob, who was the teacher at the time, and Jake, one of the cofounders, both pushed me to get my first job after graduation as a Senior Engineer. That has definitely set me up for an amazing career so far. I'd never worked a real job before, so it was a big deal for me to start at ADP. I spent a year there and realized I didn't love giant companies and wanted to see how the next extreme of a small startup would feel to me.
I’ve spent a very successful last few years at Greenlight. They're blasting off and doing great so I felt it was time for me to continue to move my career. I'm still in the FinTech world, working for Gravy Solutions, which specializes in retention recovery.
I feel very lucky – I literally used to live in poverty. Going from being tens of thousands of dollars in debt and living in poverty in 2016 to being able to buy this house last year has been such a transformation. The fact that I've been able to work and support both of us while Kim goes to school full time has been amazing.
Tait & Kim, what’s been your biggest challenge or roadblock that you’ve each faced in this career change? Have your partners (Lee & Danny) helped you through those?
Tait: It was helpful to have Lee there to talk things out loud with. Once I said it out loud, the answer would usually click. Lee has helped me combat imposter syndrome by assuring me of what I have accomplished. One trick I’ve discovered to fight imposter syndrome has been going back to the recordings from class and remembering topics that I used to have an issue with. When I can see all that I’ve learned, it assures me that I am good enough, that I am doing well.
Kim: I come to Danny in moments of desperation and he's been able to help me with things I forget to look at. It's been nice to have a person to bounce thoughts off of as I've gone through the process. During the first half of the program I was terrified – I hadn’t been in school for so long and I didn't realize how scared I was to go to class. I worked through that nervousness and found my confidence, but then the imposter syndrome kicked in. Going back and reviewing past material is so helpful in confirming what I know.
Danny: Even after being an Engineer for four years, I still feel imposter syndrome at least once a week. Then my coworkers or boss will tell me how much they love me and how great my work is and I feel okay.
Tait & Kim, what are each of your career goals after you graduate?
Kim: I'm enjoying the full stack application and I've had a lot of fun with React. I'd like to start with a larger company where I can use the skills I've learned at DigitalCrafts, get my feet wet, and keep learning. Eventually I’d love to get into project management for a company I’m really passionate about.
Lee, have you seen the new DigitalCrafts curriculum? Has it changed a lot since you went to DigitalCrafts a few years ago?
Lee, what’s your advice for getting the most out of the DigitalCrafts experience?
I get asked this question a lot, which I ask a few things in reply:
There's a difference between being a fail-URE and fail-ING at something. Failures quit and give up. Failing in something is an opportunity to learn and keep pushing through.
Coding bootcamp is going to be stressful and frustrating at times and that's okay. When you finish you're gonna feel the reward of success because you kept pushing yourself. That's my advice for anyone going into a bootcamp and for anything you want to do afterward.
Danny, do you have any advice to new bootcamp grads about getting a job after bootcamp?
Make sure your personality comes across in an interview. You’ll graduate with 20-odd bootcampers with similar portfolios. Ultimately it's gonna come down to your ability to answer the questions to their satisfaction, which you may or may not have control over, and then, your personality. At the end of the day, people want to enjoy the people they work with.
Make sure you come across as someone who's easy-going, positive, and uplifting. Those are the characteristics I'm looking for when I interview people. Work is stressful enough and that's fine and expected, but you don't want the people you work with to add to that; you want them to be a relief from it. I'm fortunate with Greenlight and Gravy that I've had that experience with both my teams.
Was DigitalCrafts worth it for you?
Danny: 100%, no doubt. It changed my life.
Tait: Definitely. We would not be where we are now if we hadn't gone through the program. I'm looking forward to my future.
Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!
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