Turing School of Software and Design is a place for new beginnings, and for some, second chances, as is the case with George Hudson. We recently got an opportunity to talk with George about the unique path he has taken thus far, his life at Turing, as well as his goals for after graduation. George is yet another great example of how people take on the challenge of completing a rigorous immersion program like that offered at Turing to initiate a new life. Check out Hudson’s story and his impressions on one of Turing’s latest cohorts.
What were you up to before you started at Turing?
Before I enrolled at Turing, I went through gSchool in Denver. Prior to that I spent most of my adult life either in active duty or Air Force National Guard where I was hands-on working with munitions, and carefully following written specific instructions. I have done a decent amount of general contract construction work as well. I have also been a Colorado certified massage therapist. I was trying to get a change of pace and thought this would be a good fit for me, and while I still enjoy providing therapy to family and friends, I did not enjoy it as a job.
When did you do gSchool? Why didn’t you graduate?
I was thrilled to be selected to go through gSchool and was excited to go. However, I did not graduate due to personal issues (custody matters and health issues on top of the fast pace of the gSchool course). I have since found out that I have Hashimoto's Syndrome, an auto-immune disorder where my body attacks my thyroid. I am treating this with hormone replacements and and have custody matters resolved. I began working security and continued my service in the Colorado Air National Guard. Basically, I worked hard to get my life back in order.
Did you spend a lot of time on Code Academy or other sites prior to enrolling in a bootcamp?
I have used Code Academy quite a bit. I used it to prepare for Turing. I used it to prepare for gSchool-01 two years ago when I went through the course.
Why did you choose Turing after gSchool? What factors did you consider?
Just before I deployed to Korea with the Guard at the beginning of 2015, Jeff Casimir told me that Turing School was operating well and offered me a place, tuition considered already paid! I considered my options: I could either stay in the military and try for a full-time position, or go back to school and give the developer career another chance. I decided on Turing due to the challenge it represented. I enjoyed the mental calisthenics of gSchool and didn't feel particularly challenged by the military. Sure it was hard work, but I I felt stagnate.
How many people are in your cohort?
I am in the 1507 cohort at Turing which started out with 24 students. Turing split the class into those who had some programming experience and those that were completely or almost completely new to programming. Since I had gone through gSchool (even though I didn't graduate), I opted for the group that had programming experience and I was pleased with my decision.
What was the difference between the experienced cohort and non-experienced cohort?
We were thrust into challenging coding situations sooner and didn't have to cover the basics as much. I took every project as an opportunity to prove to myself that I deserved to be there. See, there was a nagging spot in my mind that was worried that the real reason I didn't qualify for graduation from gSchool was not that I had extenuating circumstances, but that I wasn't smart enough and was just using those experiences as superficial excuses. Plus, being granted a free ride my second time through, I felt I needed to show Jeff that his charity was well placed!
Is your Turing cohort diverse in terms of age, gender and race?
I am not the only prior military Turning has accepted into its program. Turing makes efforts to increase diversity through scholarships for all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds, gender, age, and race. I thought I was going to be the oldest person at Turing. Turns out I am far off at only 37 year old. There are more than a few in their 40s. Just today, I heard conversations revolving around people'e ethnic backgrounds and heard a plethora of cultures represented. Irish, Italian, African, South American, Central American, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese and Korean, though there were more I am forgetting. While I feel that women were underrepresented in my particular cohort (we are down to 3 out of 20 after having one drop out of the program and one go through the first 6 week block again), other cohorts seemed to have a higher percentage and the new cohort coming in, 1508, seems to be around a third of the students.
Who is your instructor and what is their teaching style?
For block 1, we had three primary instructors: Mike Dao (a Turing graduate), Josh Cheek, and Jeff Casimir. There was a wide range of teaching styles, which included lectures, hands on learning, and even arts and crafts modeling in order to help envision a particular concept such as inheritance in Ruby. They also teach you how to learn, often giving material which was not yet covered as homework and letting you struggle to find answers the best way you saw fit. There is easy access to volunteer mentors, instructors are always willing to help, and there is always Google and StackOverflow (though Jeff pointed out, "where does someone go to find answers for how to fix Stack Overflow if the site suddenly goes down?!?" haha)
What technologies are you working on?
Though they don’t always state “This is an agile methodology,” they start teaching agile business practices right from the “Git” go. It is ingrained in the system throughout and is not a side project or quickly added in at the end. To this end, there are many tools used by teams we are introduced to including screen sharing, linking to common screens for pairing, and project management tools (Waffle.io, Pivotal tracker, Jira etc.) We document all our homework and projects using Git and GitHub.
Since you’ve been through both programs, what is the biggest difference between Turing and gSchool?
Being able to retake blocks if you do not pass or do not feel like you learned what you wished, is a policy I am glad they have in effect. When I went through gSchool, even though I was not quite where I needed to be at each of the assessments, I was just told to try to keep up and learn more on top of my shaky foundation. I think this is a vast improvement! The way Turing has the block system setup allows for this with minimal hoop jumping!
Has Turing started doing job preparation with your class? Do you practice whiteboarding, work on your LinkedIn?
They have asked us to not focus on any jobs yet. While they do teach things like whiteboarding and teaching data-structures, logic and algorithms which will help in the interviewing process, Turing wants us to focus on building our skills as developers and finding our strengths and interests before beginning to look at jobs based upon those strengths and interests.
What is your goal after graduating Turing? Do you want to be a junior developer, start your own business, etc?
I would like to find a place where I can perform my tasks remotely, and has a culture that deeply understands the unique challenges associated with such a work structure. I want to grow as a developer and if I don’t have enough support along these lines in a remote job, I would prefer to work on site with a mid-sized company that has the resources to help me advance. Ideally, I would work for a company that has ties to health, environment, or education.