After 8 years in the Marine Corps, Sterling “Meri” Meriweather began college during Covid, but quickly realized it wasn’t the right fit for his career goals. Using his veterans benefits, Meri enrolled at Sabio in order to launch a career in software engineering. Now a Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services (AWS), find out if Sabio was worth it for Meri. Plus, Meri shares his tips for other parents looking to make a career change through an online coding bootcamp like Sabio.
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 had a career in the Marine Corp and realized I didn't want to retire because we don't get paid much at all and I wanted to make money! Seeing the rise of a lucrative tech industry, I decided a bootcamp would streamline my opportunities for making the salary I desire. Plus, I loved the flexibility and mobility that comes with many tech roles. I knew that going to a coding bootcamp would be the fastest way to get my foot in the door at any company.
What did you expect from the admissions process? Was it easier or harder to get accepted to Sabio than you expected?
It was harder for me, strictly because I'm lazy! I think all software engineers by nature are a little bit lazy; I thought things were going to naturally come to me! Being a software engineer and getting prepped is kind of like going to the gym. I like hooping, so to get my jump shot right, I have to continue to get those reps in. The more reps I get in and the more time I devote to it, the easier it gets. Especially if you're coming from a college background, it can be hard to train your mind to learn like a developer, but once you get the ball rolling it becomes fairly easy.
How did the bootcamp compare to other educational experiences like college?
Something I had to come to terms with in college was sitting through classes that were unrelated to my major. It was frustrating to devote 75% of my time towards something that I wouldn’t reap the benefits of. Especially at the end of college, when you're in debt or you’ve paid to get a piece of paper, that doesn’t seem worth it to me.
While coding is more intense, you're able to immediately see the benefits of what you’re building. Once you start building, the results of your hard work are instantaneous. Seeing that immediate progress helps you keep growing once the ball is rolling because it’s empowering to see the compounding effects of your work. A coding bootcamp is more intense than college, but it’s way more rewarding.
Was the bootcamp more or less time-consuming than you thought?
I was not able to work and I did not plan on working because the bootcamp I attended was 12 hours a day, six days a week for four months, which left no time to do anything else. It was extremely time-consuming, which I didn’t expect. Sundays would come around and I’d be too exhausted to do anything. It was so worth it, though.
I do think that Sabio mimics the startup environment very well. We worked for a startup for the last two months of my training there, and that actually exposed me to a lot of topics early on. By the time I went into my role at AWS, I had already been exposed to a lot of what they do, so the learning curve was not steep.
Is it possible to be enrolled at Sabio as a full-time parent? Any tips?
I am a dad of two kids and in my coding bootcamp, there were people from all walks of life. Some people were 18 or 19 years old and just out of high school, while others were in their late 40s and early 50s — we all made it through.
The coding bootcamp experience is unique because some folks are making career changes, some are dropping out of college (like I did), and people come from a multitude of industries to learn this content. You might be in a class with some young folks, but it’s not like college. A lot of people who go to a bootcamp have already had a previous career and are making a switch. They already have life experience — they’ve done their taxes a few times before they got to this point.
What’s one thing that positively surprised you about Sabio?
I learned how to learn. I learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. That imposter syndrome will never go away so get used to it now! You’re gonna be given problems that nobody has solved before, that's why you're giving the problem. If it was solved before it would just be solved. It's up to you to figure out the problem for whatever company you're working for and solve it, so not knowing is good and it’s a learning opportunity!
What would you warn a future bootcamper about?
I would tell them to make sure they eliminate any distractions before the bootcamp starts. Having a clear mind beforehand is going to allow you to be able to learn at your full potential and fast track yourself to accomplish your goals.
What was the network like at bootcamp?
Sabio has an illustrious network! I actually got my job at AWS because of Sabio and their network. Once you graduate, you get added to an alumni networking portal with thousands of people in there, who are regularly posting jobs and are there if you need a referral or anything else.
I still talk to the people in the network that I grew at Sabio on a daily basis. We network with each other and pass each other on to other developers and other teams and stuff, so it's great!
How much did your program end up costing you?
Sabio is $15,000, but they accept VET TEC, so I used my veteran resources to cover the tuition.
How did you end up getting your first job after graduating from Sabio?
I was connected to AWS through the Sabio alumni network. A couple of alumni went through AWS entry-level jobs and apprenticeships, so I reached out to them and asked them how they got their first role and they gave me the road map.
I applied and the recruiter pushed me to the side a bit, but I found a back door and reached out to a third party who helps push people to Amazon and they accepted me and pushed me in! Being tenacious was one part of getting that job. Whatever effort that you put into getting a job is the effort you’ll get back.
Is this the career that you expected? Would you do this whole career change all over again?
I am definitely in the career that I want to be in! From the Marine Corps to jumping into the life of a software engineer has been a complete 180 switch. Engineering is relaxed, you’re able to use your brain, and it doesn’t involve really long days like I think some people expect. Software developers spend most of their time researching and code only one or two hours a day. The rest of your time is meetings, which I’m okay with because I was living a much more hectic lifestyle before I became a software engineer.
Making this career change through Sabio is absolutely worth it. The salary is great, the quality of life is great, and I'm so glad for what Sabio and all these other bootcamps have to offer.
Find out more and read Sabio reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Sabio. Sabio has an amazing $5,500 Woman in Tech Scholarship, and they enroll monthly!
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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