Full Stack Developer
Beginning my first role as a developer at SEQTEK was just like every other step in this journey, it started out very difficult. There is a curve to going from a learning environment to a real world environment just like any job. Though it was challenging, everyday I have learned something new. Whether it be from a co-worker, digging for solutions on the internet or just having my own breakthrough moments I have been able to soak it a years worth of education in just a short amount of time by being on the job. The people I am working with have made the transition into tech very easy by being helpful and informative anytime I need them. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start and I am glad I made this career move, I am confident from this point on, I will be in tech for the remainder of my career.
Breaking Into Tech
By Matt Lemke | Last updated: Monday, January 10, 2022
I had become like the characters we see in movies, sitting in my office mindless and waiting for the end of the day. I would sit in meetings that went for hours just wondering why I was here. As soon as I got home from a vacation, my mind was on the next one. Though I once loved my career and my job, I knew that the time had passed and I was faced with a decision: to stay here because it is comfortable or find something new. The question is always “If I’m not doing this, what will I do?”. This question lingered in my mind for months, then the pandemic hit. As we were sitting at home watching and waiting to see what was going to happen, I realized this was the time to make a career shift.
I had always talked about getting involved in tech. Since I was a child in C.A.D. class, I have always marveled at what technology could do. When I graduated high school, a friend of mine who was a Computer Science major showed me a website he was building in C# and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I had always wanted to learn to code, but something else always took priority. So I jumped on google and began researching how to become a “coder”. I’ll never forget the three questions I googled: “How to become a coder?”. This is when I quickly found out the different titles and types of developers, “how much do programmers make?”, and “do I have to be able to type fast to be a programmer?”.
One site that popped up multiple times in my research was Codecademy, so I hopped on there and started with their “HTML/CSS” course. I loved it and I could tell this was the next step for me. So I dug deeper on how to get myself ready for this career shift. I found two paths in my research: self-taught, and computer science degrees. I began searching for anyone who could give me advice and I found an old friend from high school who had a developer background, I messaged him and asked him for some of his time. I focused my questions on what the best ways to break into the industry are, that's when he started to tell me about Bootcamps.
He explained the Bootcamp route to me like this: “You can learn almost anything in tech on the internet, but you need to know enough of the basics to know what to ask If you don't know what a function is, you won’t know how to find the right content to learn what you need because Google can't give you an answer to a question you are not asking. So a Bootcamp will help provide a layer of the basics for you so you can learn the rest on your own. They are like a roadmap to know where to look, what to do and what questions to ask when you’re stuck. After the call, I found a six month Bootcamp at UT Austin that was perfect for me.
On top of my job, I spent thirty hours a week working on the Bootcamp, plus another fifteen hours building projects on my own to speed up my development. It was a steep learning curve, there is nothing easy about learning to code but I loved every second of it. Four months into the Bootcamp, I quit my job and spent at least thirty hours a week working on algorithms, problem-solving and personal projects for my portfolio on top of the other work in the course curriculum. This allowed me to be employer-ready before the Bootcamp ended and gave me the confidence to apply. Though the company wasn’t hiring an intern, I messaged a CEO via Linkedin and asked him for a chance to gain experience. We connected well and he gave me a 3 month paid internship before graduation. The internship set me up perfectly to get experience while working with a recruiter for a long-term landing spot.
A month before the internship ended my recruiter helped me find an amazing job as a full stack developer that was perfect for an entry-level position. Like I stated before, there is nothing easy about learning to code, so my advice to anyone who is wanting to learn is to: Start with HTML/ CSS and make sure you enjoy it. Then try a harder project via Codecademy or another website that will challenge you. If you’re still hooked, find a Bootcamp and take the concepts you are learning there, and dive deeper into them on your own. Build your portfolio, find a recruiter and put yourself out there.