Harrison completed a service mission in New England aiding African refugees and asylum seekers in search of a better life – that’s how he realized he wanted to focus on creating tech that increases the quality of life of those who need it most. By enrolling in the self-paced Software Engineering bootcamp at Springboard, Harrison was able to reskill while working full-time. Find out if Springboard was worth it for Harrison, and how he landed his first Software Engineer role at Rock Solid Internet Shipping!
And watch the full alumni panel here for advice from 4 other graduates:
Where did you expect your career to go when you enrolled at Springboard?
For anyone considering a coding bootcamp, I believe that having a lighthouse of belief in what you want to do and why you want to do it is intrinsically important. One of the things that has improved my life is knowing what my purpose is: pondering it, writing it down so I can see it every day, so that I can know why it is that I'm waking up every morning, and why it is that I'm eating breakfast, going to work, doing my best at work, and studying in my free time. Having that purpose has driven me to do things that I never thought possible.
My purpose is to make life easier and better for refugees coming to America, because America has a lot of issues, but there are opportunities for success here. I really want to make those opportunities even bigger and easier to obtain for all the amazing people who come here after being forced from their homes.
Was it easier or harder to get accepted to Springboard than you expected?
When I got back from the service mission in New England, I wanted to hit the ground running. I didn't want to sit around and wait to go to college, so I tried to get into a coding bootcamp as fast as possible. I contacted Springboard and learned I only had a few weeks before the next cohort started, and if I didn't start that cohort, I would have to wait eight more weeks in order to join the next cohort. I tried my best but I was not able to get every single question on the technical assessment [for Springboard’s admissions]. It was okay though, because I had a friend who is a software engineer and he helped me with those questions.
Looking back on your bootcamp experience, do you wish you had prepared more or less before that first day of the bootcamp?
On my very first day at Springboard, I had a really good experience because there's a lot of teachers out there who, when they're teaching programming, assume that the students know what they’re talking about. What's amazing about Springboard is that it's a curriculum designed by Colt Steele, who is one of the best teachers on Udemy and YouTube! He goes through first principles and makes sure that you know every single little definition to all these different aspects of computer science before you start working with them. It's just a great experience and I really enjoyed my first day of my software bootcamp!
Any book or online recommendations, now that you're in the industry?
My biggest recommendation is to join a community for newcomers to tech to get their questions answered. It’s so much fun to be able to get to know other people who are at the same point in your similar journey of becoming a software engineer that it's both motivating and you can get a lot of your questions answered.
How did you juggle working full-time while you attended bootcamp?
I was working construction full-time while attending the bootcamp and it was tough! I would fill concrete for 14 hours a day, balancing the self-paced Springboard Software Engineering Career Track. Springboard is amazing because of the people. The Director at Springboard for the software engineering cohort was so accommodating when I needed more time to finish some assignments. It was refreshing to be in a learning environment where they did everything they could to support students to graduate. While it was challenging at times, it was deeply worth it because I knew I was going to achieve a better job and a better quality of life afterwards. For a little bit of pain in the beginning, it was so worth changing the course of my life.
What’s one thing that surprised you positively about your bootcamp experience?
The concept of self-teaching. When I was in high school, I hated school so much and I thought it was dumb that we had to take different classes for things we just did not want to do with our lives. History class taught us about self-teachers who start with minimal resources and find ways to learn what they want to know. I appreciated that Springboard offered the opportunity to develop that self-teaching skill through their self-paced bootcamp. It involves a series of videos, supportive teaching methods, and places the emphasis on the individual to learn how to learn. Once you learn how to learn and once you learn how to teach yourself, the world is your oyster — you can learn anything!
Some of the most intelligent people I’ve met were software engineers who were self-taught. Every engineer is self-taught because you're only in school for so long, and so you really do need to learn those lessons of how to learn.
What would you warn a future bootcamper about?
Determine if an ISA is right for you. An ISA is an Income Share Agreement, which means you don’t pay for tuition up front. However, once you graduate and get a job, you pay the school 10%-20% of your income for up to four years, sometimes even longer. When you do the math, that can get expensive! An ISA can be potentially dangerous if you’re not cautious.
How much did Springboard end up costing you?
Instead of an ISA, Springboard is set up so students pay a flat fee with a cap of $12,000, and you only have to pay it if you are able to get a job within six months of graduating. If you do not get a job within six months, you don't have to pay a single dollar and the entire thing is free!
Springboard is committed to actually finding you a job because if you don't find a job then they don't get paid, so they are absolutely in it with you — they have skin in the game and that's huge. After 6 months of graduating, I pay Springboard $950 a month until I reach $12,000.
How did you actually land your first tech job after graduating from Springboard?
One of the best methods I've found for getting a job was through cold emailing. Look up on LinkedIn the companies you want to work for, and search for their leadership and hiring team (HR, technical developer manager, VP of Engineering, CTO). Look up email formats and send emails to as many people as you can. I was surprised by how well cold emailing works.
After working for several companies now, I’ve realized it's actually pretty hard for companies today to find good engineers because everybody has a job. That’s awesome for us because that means we're in such high demand!
The best way for recruiters to get a hold of you for you to get a hold of them. I got so many free lunches out of these meetings because they're so surprised that you reached out to them through cold emailing that they pay for your lunch even though you are asking to pay for theirs. It's just a really great experience and I highly recommend cold emailing.
Would you do it all over again, Harrison?
I have really enjoyed my path through going through the bootcamp and becoming a software engineer! I think the three reasons why people decide to pay for education is because you put your money where your mouth is; you get a defined education path; and accountability! You have a teacher or grades or some kind of system for checking back up with you to make sure you're on track to graduate.
I think that going through Springboard was an amazing experience because I realized that I learned the skills necessary in order to teach myself. I recommend going through a bootcamp, specifically Springboard, because I learned the tools I needed to be successful in this life. It’s incredible because you can do so many things with software engineering — you can change the world! That's the idea that I carry with me.
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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