Joshua Akan-Etuk nearly finished their Computer Science degree before dropping out and starting work as a Help Desk Technician while learning to code. After many rejected job applications, Joshua turned to Thinkful to better prepare for a career in web development. Discover how Thinkful's remote Engineering Flex course suits Joshua’s full-time work schedule, plus their (very good) advice for anyone who’s thinking of enrolling in a remote bootcamp!
What were you up to before you went to Thinkful?
I attended college for a Computer Science degree and dropped out after the first semester of my junior year. The computer science courses involved binary, Big O, calculus, and proofs – it was a lot of math. I worked as a phone technician and troubleshooted computer systems at a Help Desk. As a technician, I spent time automating my own role for my employer and realized that my job could eventually be replaced by the script I wrote.
Between a global pandemic and a recession, why did you decide that now is the right time to start a coding bootcamp and why did you choose Thinkful?
There were a lot of factors I loved about Thinkful. I prefer written course material because it allows me to go at my own pace. Data structure and algorithms were a large portion of the Thinkful curriculum, which is something I hadn’t explored before. I'm used to remote teamwork and Thinkful uses Slack to connect with alumni and instructors. I also appreciated their career services, and Thinkful’s refund guarantee made me feel more confident in my choice. I feel like my experience prior to bootcamp is more than enough to land a job as a developer and now the assistance in finding a job will be extremely helpful. Plus, as long as you are maintaining a healthy search after graduation, if you don’t find a job in six months, you receive a full refund.
Did you take advantage of Thinkful's COVID-19 initiatives or scholarships?
What was the Thinkful application and interview process like?
You’re still a student in the bootcamp – what does a typical day look like as a Thinkful Flex student? What have you learned so far?
Tell us more about your Thinkful mentor!
My mentor has been helping me to get through React, and I'm about to move onto Node and Postgres. Twice a week, we speak for 30-45 minutes to review what I’ve learned. We screenshare on Google Meet, so we can go over certain problems. In addition to speaking about the curriculum, my mentor shares his industry experience with me. It's nice that my mentor can speak to me as a real developer, not just an instructor.
How does the Thinkful teaching style compare to your Computer Science classes in college?
I took many lecture courses when I was studying Computer Science at college and only a few of those classes had a smaller student-to-teacher ratio. Having a One-on-One Mentor with Thinkful is the best! On my own, I can go through the written material and Google any questions I may have. If I can't find the answers myself, I'll follow up with my mentor.
How does the web development curriculum you’re learning at Thinkful compare to what you are working on as a Help Desk specialist?
The one big similarity between what I’m learning at Thinkful and my help desk job is problem-solving. There is a misconception that understanding computers and knowing how to code are the same thing. I've noticed this in my own experience with coding and helping developers who have called the Help Desk to get their own computers fixed.
Since you are learning in a remote bootcamp, how do you interact with other Thinkful students?
I'm taking the part-time Flex bootcamp, so I don't have traditional classmates like those who are doing the immersive bootcamp. But if I need anything, I can bring it to Thinkful’s Slack community.
What kinds of projects have you worked on so far at Thinkful?
Learn how to use Google and StackOverflow well. Google is your friend! W3Schools Online Web Tutorial is also a very accessible web development site to start looking at how code works.
Think through problems and their wholeness before attempting to code. Consider every step before you start otherwise you will run into problems when you are in the middle of the project. Structuring how you want to attempt something will help in the long-term. The Thinkful bootcamp actually introduced me to that idea! I didn't do that in the past, and if I could go back in time and give myself advice, that's what I would say.
How has Thinkful begun to prepare you for the job hunt?
We were told in the beginning of the course to look at 20 job descriptions and line it up into a job activity list. Since starting the bootcamp, I haven't done a hardcore job search regimen of sending out ten job applications a day, but every week I try to look at job descriptions and submit one application via LinkedIn. If something looks interesting, but there are too many requirements outside of my resume, I put it on a sheet to return to.
The actual career services portion of the bootcamp happens after graduation, but what is more important to me right now is that Thinkful is giving me confidence. I understand now that there was a lot I didn't know and Thinkful is there to support me through the process of becoming a developer.
What roles are you excited to apply for after the program?
I've already been working remotely in my help desk job, and now that I’m doing this Thinkful bootcamp, it’s reassured me that remote work is what I should be doing.
What has been your biggest challenge on this path to becoming a developer?
The emotions involved in this career-changing experience has been a challenge, but Thinkful has given me confidence, which has been tremendously helpful. Plus, I feel secure in Thinkful’s career services. While I was researching bootcamps, I read how Thinkful grads have found jobs before they even graduated. People get what they put into this program.
Do you have any advice for people considering a coding bootcamp right now?
At my current job, I'm automating myself out of a job. In the next few years, a lot of help desk jobs will be automated. They just released a GPT-3 AI that is developing front end code for developers. Tesla is developing automated semi-trucks, essentially robots to take freight across the country. Industries are moving toward automation and technology, and no matter how you feel about it, we don't have control over it. Everyone has a chance to find something that will help them to remain valuable. Find a way to stick out and be indispensable as technology advances.