Why I Chose Coding Bootcamp Over Law School

Imogen Crispe

Written By Imogen Crispe

Last updated on October 21, 2020

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With an undergrad major in the humanities, your career path can often be a winding road. Bernard Lin was planning to go to law school after studying Ancient Greek and Latin, but when he saw the great work-life balance his friends in the tech industry enjoyed, he decided to go to a coding bootcamp. Bernard tells us how Hack Reactor taught him the skills for the job, how he landed his job through the large Hack Reactor alumni network, and he answers our question: Was Coding Bootcamp Worth It? Watch the video or read the summary.

Name: Bernard Lin
Graduated: December 2016 from Hack Reactor’s Full Time program in New York, NY
His New Job: Software Engineer at Consumer Reports
Mark of success: Better work-life balance than a lawyer

Before Hack Reactor

  • Bernard studied Ancient Greek and Latin in college, and planned to go to law school.
  • During an internship, lawyers told him not to pursue to law school, leaving Bernard at a crossroads.
  • Bernard saw friends at tech companies who had great work-life balance, and thought it could make for a better career path.

From Humanities to Coding

  • At first, Bernard worried it might be a hard transition, but says “your ability to think critically helps a lot in making that transition. Anyone can learn to code, it’s just a matter of putting in the time and effort.”
  • Bernard read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaac and understood that Steve Jobs saw himself as an intersection between tech and humanities. That biography is "inspiring for anyone who doesn't have a STEM background to follow that path."

Self Teaching vs Coding Bootcamp vs CS Degree

  • Bernard started out with Codecademy, which was great for JavaScript basics, but found it was not detailed enough for a career transition. He describes the difference between self-learning vs a classroom with this metaphor: “If you’re trying to do a sudoku puzzle and working on your own, maybe you’ll get one square, but if someone is teaching you, they can fill in the square if you don’t get it right away, and that makes it easier to finish the whole puzzle.”
  • He considered a CS Degree, but decided it was too expensive and would take too long. Bernard says, “I think it’s incredible that you can go to a three-month bootcamp and end up transitioning into a completely different industry. I don’t know of any other industries where you can do that... When I first heard about it I thought it was too good to be true, but here I am!”

Why Hack Reactor

  • Bernard knew he wanted to stay in New York.
  • He used Course Report to go through reviews of coding bootcamps, and was looking for a full stack JavaScript course.
  • Bernard narrowed his search down to Fullstack Academy and Hack Reactor. Ultimately, he chose Hack Reactor because he was impressed with the speed at which Hack Reactor followed up after the interview.
  • It took Bernard three tries to get accepted into Hack Reactor – he had to do a bit of practice and brush up on his skills.

The Biggest Challenge at Bootcamp

  • Bernard found that you can’t just buy into a coding bootcamp halfway if you want to be successful. He says, “when first learning how to code, it’s hard to maintain that skill if you don’t work at it every day.”
  • Mental stamina was also a challenge: “You do a lot of work to get into the bootcamp, you put in a lot of work to get through the bootcamp, and even when you’re leaving it’s just the beginning of another journey, which is the job interview process.”
  • Bernard saw that the job hunting process can be the part where people start to lose hope, “But it’s the most critical part to remember that if you keep pushing you’ll get to where you need to go.”

Finding that First Software Engineer Job

  • Hack Reactor prepared Bernard to both do the job and find the job. As he says, "you have to develop a different set of skills for interviewing."
  • When he graduated, Bernard became a Hacker in Residence which is a Hack Reactor teacher assistant. He chose this path to:
    • give back to the community and help others have a good experience
    • solidify his own skills and be able to explain things technically well for job interviews
  • Towards the end of his Residency, someone from the cohort before Bernard, who worked at Consumer Reports, helped Bernard land a job. Now, Bernard is a Software Engineer at Consumer Reports.
  • Bernard says he found it incredible to have access to Hack Reactor’s network of 3000 alumni.

Coding in the Real World

  • Bernard learned React at Hack Reactor, and now uses React heavily at Consumer Reports.
  • But he didn't know everything! Hack Reactor teaches server-side JavaScript, whereas Consumer Reports uses Laravel and PHP. Even though Bernard didn’t learn Laravel at Hack Reactor, his employer saw he understood the basics of server-side frameworks, and was confident Bernard could pick it up as he went along. He says, “It all goes back to the same general rule: if you’re good at one language and the concepts you use that language for, it won’t be that hard to move those concepts to another language.”

Was Hack Reactor Worth It?

  • “I wouldn’t be where I am now without Hack Reactor because I would not have been able to develop the skills that got me the job I have now. It was definitely worth it for me.”
  • Although Bernard did not have a job before bootcamp, he says that the types of jobs he was looking at would not have paid as well as a software engineering job.
  • He also feels if he had become a lawyer, he wouldn’t have had time to pursue hobbies, as all his time would have been spent at work. “At the end of the day I don’t regret the decision at all. I have great work-life balance now.”

Find out more and read Hack Reactor reviews on Course Report. Check out the Hack Reactor website.

About The Author

Imogen Crispe

Imogen Crispe

Imogen is a writer and content producer who loves exploring technology and education in her work. Her strong background in journalism, writing for newspapers and news websites, makes her a contributor with professionalism and integrity.

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