Editor’s Note – This article was originally published in the Winter issue U.S Veterans Magazine by Paul Yoon, a San Jose graduate.
I served in the military for 4 years. I was a wheeled-vehicle mechanic in the US Army for the first two years, and then became an artillery surveyor. I gained radio technician experience and managed and secured transportation for personnel and equipment. I was a Los Angeles law enforcement officer for five years. I had to help my parents with many bills. I needed to find work and the law enforcement was hiring heavily at that time. Coding has always been something that I have always enjoyed. As an adolescent, I spent time with a few of my friends learning HTML and CSS. We also learned how to create web and mobile apps. But I grew distant. Many of my friends became software engineers and encouraged me to pursue it once my family was settled. I had a stable job. I had just bought a house. I was happy. I was content. But, I felt a mental struggle: If i stay here, accept and try not to be unhappy with what I have, i’m settling. I didn’t want to live in regret. I wanted to take the time to learn and make some sacrifices. I needed something faster and coding bootcamps were very popular at the time so I began researching. I found that most of them only covered one stack. Coding Dojo broke it down into three different stacks. This was more what I needed. I wanted to learn about certain stacks, and then experiment with them. The Coding Dojo presentation was very welcoming and open-minded. He was also a veteran, which is why bootcamps are hard. It’s four years worth of coursework compressed into four months. I knew I needed to be able to take this leap if I wanted to succeed. I looked at the material we covered in the first few days and realized that I couldn’t just go home and read a few pages each night if that wasn’t enough. Sometimes the material can be difficult to understand. I was “that guy” who asked lots of questions. I think that was what helped me the most. Some of my course mates were too proud. My course mates were too proud to ask the instructors. Or they’d be stuck on the same thing for hours. MERN was my favorite stack, but Python was close behind. MERN is great for fun projects and applications. But, Python is better for data analysis, deeper studies, and deeper analyses. Although Java is a useful foundational language, I would prefer to avoid it. Coincidentally, my current job uses Java. After graduation, COVID-19 had a significant impact on the job search. I was competing against software engineers with years of experience who were willing to accept lower-paying entry-level jobs. I decided that I would rather learn and grow than just look for the highest-paying position. I looked at a lot of paid internships, mentorships, and entry-level jobs. There was a lot to be rejected as many apprenticeships and interns were canceled or delayed due to COVID-19. Finally, Twilio responded about their Hatch apprenticeship. It took two and a quarter months to complete, but it all worked out. I am now a Software Engineering apprentice. Every day brings new challenges. You must be willing to sacrifice and make compromises. Give it all you have. You can only learn and understand the material if you put in the hours. Family and loved ones will support your sacrifices. I was a soldier so it was easy for me to make them. I was the one who would usually be the first in and last out. I was competitive. I knew that if I set my goals and objectives, I would never leave until I achieved them. It was easy for me to work with people from different backgrounds and it was comfortable to approach them. As entry points, there are many roles that require coding and development. You should consider changing if you have transferable skills in web development or software engineering. It’s healthy. It’s never too late to learn if you find yourself in a difficult situation. You don’t have to doubt that. Coding Dojo bootcamp provides accelerated learning programs that can transform the lives of those who are interested in learning code and pursuing a career they love. We offer online and onsite courses as well as part-time and complete-time online courses. We offer scholarships, financing options, and other tuition assistance programs to help with financial barriers. You can invest in yourself and your future by investing in yourself.