In 2018, I was serving at Great American Restaurants while studying neuroscience at Northern Virginia Community College.
During my first semester, I took an IT course where I had to create a basic website using HTML/CSS. This was my introduction to programming, and I fell in love fairly quickly. However, I thought it was just a hobby, so I still pursued becoming a doctor.
It wasn’t until my second year in college that I realized I don’t like studying biology, but rather computers. I also felt that college took the fun out of learning. So I enrolled in George Washington University’s coding bootcamp. It was a great experience but came with major drawbacks, namely that they didn’t have financing and they didn’t teach as many stacks as I wanted to learn.
That’s when I came across the Coding Dojo Arlington campus. I was hooked instantly by how easy and straightforward it was. What initially held me back was that I was leaving the conventional method of succeeding in life: Go to college, get a good job, get paid well. I got over it by getting an opinion from a stranger who just happened to be sitting at the bar programming while I was working. I asked him what he thought of bootcamps and he said they were well worth it and are the future of learning code. That sealed the deal and I took a leap of faith.
Getting ready for the bootcamp was rather stressful because I enrolled without proper savings. Luckily my mom had my back and helped me out, so I was able to get through. My first two weeks were really fun. I finally felt like I was doing something meaningful, like I was in the right place. It was really exciting meeting random people from all backgrounds. They’re still my friends and we still do things together all the time.
For others interested in learning how to code, I would say the best thing to do is to find others who enjoy it as well.
The hard thing was that it was completely new to me. All the information came fast, so you have to adapt quickly or you’ll be left behind. The bootcamp taught me how to talk to others and ask for help. There’s no shame in asking others for help on whatever you’re doing because everyone was starting new.
Between intense days of coding and learning new technologies, there were definitely fun times. I think one of my favorite anecdotes was when we all went out to lunch to eat at a local restaurant called Wooboi. The sandwiches were hot, very hot. A majority of my cohort were at the Dojo tearing up due to the heat, but I’ll always remember those as tears of joy thanks to those heavenly sandwiches.
At graduation, I must admit, I was extremely scared. I felt that as a 20-year-old, I had no experience in the real world, and worried that I had decided to take the easy route. I’d learned a lot, but I also felt like there was more to do — which is always true in this field. But the job hunt only lasted about a month and a half. I graduated in June of 2019, and my first day as a developer was Aug. 12. I now work as a web developer for the HR tech company C2 Essentials based in Chantilly, Virginia. It gives me pride to say that I’m a developer at such an early age!
Looking to the future, I would love to gain more experience in mobile development and UX/UI, and for a personal goal, I aim to buy my first rental property within five years. In 10 years, I would love to be at a senior level in either UX/UI or app development. Hopefully, I’ll also have a few rental properties with a good cash flow of passive income to boot.
For others interested in learning how to code, I would say the best thing to do is to find others who enjoy it as well. Not only will everyone push each other, but you’ll learn more and you’ll learn faster. Stick with it if you enjoy it. There are endless possibilities in programming.
Knowledge is power!
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