How to Juggle a Career, a Newborn, and Learning to Code
Signing up for a coding boot camp is a big commitment. Learning a dozen new programming languages and software to build a portfolio of real-world projects takes a lot of work.
Now imagine that you’re also working a full-time job while attending classes. And you just had your second baby. Piece of cake, right?
Welcome to Brent Lewis’ coding boot camp experience.
There’s never going to be a “right time”
“My background in coding is a little different,” Brent said. “I have a degree in computer animation from art school. But I was always very interested in the coding side of building websites and portfolios.”
Like many self-taught coders, Brent had to piece together knowledge from coding books, videos, and online tutorials. But it never quite felt like enough.
“Online teaching videos didn’t quite answer my specific questions. There’s just no replacing a back-and-forth with someone who’s really strong in their field,” Brent said. “When the instructors and teaching assistants answer your questions you’re getting a deeper understanding and it’s easier to move forward more quickly—and confidently.
“I was just at a point in my career where I needed to learn more modern programming languages. I was stuck working with legacy code. I needed to upgrade my coding skills for more modern apps and applications,” he said.
Ready to improve himself, Brent enrolled in the Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp, knowing it would be a challenge—especially with a baby on the way. “I signed up months in advance,” he said. “I knew I had a kid coming, but it didn’t really register what that would actually be like.”
“The whole time I was in the boot camp I was up in the night with my newborn—and my toddler,” Brent said. But with help, he was able to manage.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my wife. She was absolutely crucial for me successfully completing the course,” he said.
Brent’s support network grew even bigger the minute he started his course.
Connection and collaboration
The in-class camaraderie was, for Brent, one of the highlights of the course. “I tried to never miss physically being in class or in study groups so that I could feed off that energy and passion,” he explained. “You look at people from all walks of life—like a nurse working three shifts—and it made for a really inspiring atmosphere to learn in.”
The collaboration continued in a number of group projects. Georgia Tech Boot Camps curricula revolves around real-world group projects. One of Brent’s groups even created a program called StudyUp, which uses an API to allow students from the boot camp to log in and find other students close to them to create study groups based on location.
“Learning how to work in these group projects is one of the most undersold skills that you gain from the course,” explained Brent. “At the end of the day, when you interview with a company, people want to know that you’re someone people can work with. Mastering how to react in group scenarios is just as important as picking up a leaner algorithm.”
And that marketable skill set was why Brent signed up for the coding boot camp in the first place—to obtain a better career.
Landing a dream job
Armed with an impressive portfolio, Brent was ready to pursue his new career goals. “During the interview process, I was able to hold deep conversations about technical things that I wouldn’t have been able to before the course,” Brent said.
That new proficiency paid off. After the course, Brent landed his dream job as a 3D software engineer at AirBus Aerial—a position that combines his original art school education with his new coding skills. Brent was the ideal candidate.
“They needed someone with a 3D background, which I had from art school, along with the modern coding skills I had just learned from the course,” said Brent. “It was the perfect synergy and the perfect opportunity.”
“In past positions I was limited by a more ‘surface’ coding knowledge,” he said. “Now I understand structure and theory on another level.”
Brent is far from done. In addition to his new career, Brent was recently accepted into Georgia Tech’s prestigious and intensive Master of Science in Computer Science program. When asked why he decided to continue his education even further, his response reveals his desire for lifelong learning: “I’m just hungry for more knowledge and want to continue the deep dive into computer science!”
This new opportunity isn’t just for the accolades, however.
“I also want to grow closer with the tech community here in Atlanta,” he said. “I aim to be great in my field, and furthering my education is an awesome way to get where I want to be.”
That commitment to education and community is part of Brent’s final piece of advice for anyone who’s considering enrolling in a coding boot camp.
“Don’t take a course like this just to get a certificate,” Brent said. “That’s not the mindset for long-term success. You have to dedicate yourself to everything you’re learning and trying to master it, because it’s the knowledge and the soft skills you learn that will make you succeed.”