Zach Porras studied Russian in college, spent 10 years in the service industry, and worked for Whole Foods in Chicago as a Department Manager before enrolling at Coding Temple. After graduating in September 2021, Zach got a job as a Software Engineer at Charter Communications! Find out how expectations met reality for Zach, how he actually got his first job through LinkedIn, what surprised him about Coding Temple, and whether the 10-week bootcamp was worth it.
And watch the full alumni panel here for advice from 4 other graduates:
Where did you expect your career to go when you enrolled in bootcamp?
I knew that I wanted to leave the food service industry and do something totally different, but I didn't want to have to sacrifice the salary I’d worked so hard to earn over the years. I also wanted to pivot into a career that aligns with what I love to do! Since there are tech jobs in practically every company, I knew I’d find a position in tech with a company that aligns with my interests – baseball, Star Wars, and being outdoors. I'm fortunate now to make a salary that maintains my desired quality of life.
Was it easier or harder to get accepted to Coding Temple than you expected?
The admissions process was a pretty straight-forward aptitude test with some really basic math problem-solving and logic-based problems. I think the purpose of the application was to ensure everyone was working off the same solid foundation. Everyone should have the ability to understand basic concepts related to logic and math. It was not nearly as hard as a really difficult exam in college; it was just to make sure we were all on level ground for everyone to work from. It wasn't exactly complicated or difficult.
Now that you're working in the tech industry, are there any books or online recourses that you’d recommend for future Coding Temple applicants?
I would recommend W3Schools because it’s the simplest format of an array of topics, and they’re constantly expanding. W3Schools is helpful for familiarizing yourself with many different topics before attempting to build anything. I often still use W3Schools, to remind myself of how to do really basic or advanced things.
How did the bootcamp compare to other educational experiences like college?
I thought the bootcamp was more intense than college courses I've taken because I took a 10-week bootcamp, which packs a lot of information into a small amount of time. I did take a 12-week language learning course one summer in college, and that was a lot more similar to this bootcamp, because of how much info you learn in a short amount of time. You meet once or twice a day, and then most of the rest of your day is spent working on that material, working on your assignments, and talking to your fellow cohort members about what you're learning or struggling with. Bootcamp is an all-consuming experience, and more intense than a stretched out college course.
Was the bootcamp more or less time-consuming than you thought?
My course was 10 weeks long, five days a week – basically 9am to 5pm. I considered picking up a part-time job during that time, but I'm very glad that I didn't because it's unpredictable when we’d have time for anything else. Most weeks I was working on bootcamp work even in my free time and on the weekends. Some weeks were less intense and I had more free time, but ultimately I'm glad I didn't work part-time while attending the full-time bootcamp, because I had no idea when that spare time would come around.
What’s one thing that surprised you positively about Coding Temple?
One positive thing I learned is that no matter what your experience level is, everyone will find something difficult to grasp. Some folks in my cohort already had a computer science degree, others had done some web development in the past, but everyone is going to find something that they're gonna have trouble understanding. There will be a concept they have trouble learning or putting in the application. Embrace that and understand that everyone is going through that! It's best to be open and communicative with your cohort members as well as your instructors about what's giving you trouble because that's how you'll get the support that you need individually. It’s also rewarding when someone else is voicing an issue that they're having, and you can reach out and help them, which is great practice for when you’re in the actual work environment.
What would you warn a future bootcamper about?
Coding Temple told us early on that at the end of the course we will not be an expert and that’s still true. I used a lot of the same things I used at bootcamp in my current job and I’m definitely still not an expert. You're just always going to be learning. Don't worry if you're struggling with something, it's just a part of the process.
How much did Coding Temple tuition end up costing you?
$13,000 plus interest for a loan. I financed tuition through an external loan partner.
How did you actually get your first job in tech?
I did a lot of networking through LinkedIn. Coding Temple has an awesome alumni director, Marlene. She holds meetings every week after you graduate to give advice on topics like how to network, how to dress up your resume, and what to say if you're talking to recruiters or if you're in interviews.
Networking was my key to getting my first position. I was also lucky because I happened to talk to a recruiter who had just posted a job, and he happened to send me a response, which doesn’t always happen! It was a quick process - just one screening with the recruiter and one interview with the company and that was it.
One thing that’s been stressed in our alumni meetings is to keep networking - to keep sending out messages, don't let conversations fizzle out, and keep talking to people, because you never know what's going to turn out.
Would you do it all over again?
I would absolutely do it again. I think the most important thing when making a decision to go to a coding bootcamp is deciding if it has the potential to improve your quality of life – whether it's money, or you don't like the work you're doing, or you wanna do something more fulfilling. This experience has given me all of those things.
Am I in the job right now that I wanna be in for the next few years? Probably not, to be honest, but I'm learning a ton about the work, I'm getting better at the skills that I already have, I'm still devoting time on the side of just seeing what else is out there, and it's just a really comfortable workload that I'm given through my job. I like working for my employer, and I'm excited that they're helping me to tool up to continue towards my career goals.
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