With a Toolbox Full of New Skills, One Online Boot Camp Learner Climbs Upward in His Career
After graduating from college, Chris Human was hired by his alma mater — Berry College — to maintain software he’d written as a student. But after four years of working on database design, his learning curve began to flatten. With fewer and fewer new skills to learn, and a nagging feeling that perhaps management wasn’t right for him, he knew it was time for a change.
“After four years, I wanted to chase new opportunities and move up,” said Chris. “I knew that, in order to do that, I would need a new skill set.”
Before long, Chris enrolled in the online Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp and started building the skills that helped him change jobs — and, ultimately, his life.
Back to school: Entering the virtual classroom
Throughout the 24-week web development boot camp, every one of Chris’s classes was online. The only time Chris, his peers, and instructors met in-person was on the first day of setup and the program’s Demo Day. Otherwise, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Chris devoted himself to class and studying: learning virtually alongside his classmates via Zoom. “The day to day of the program was actually fun,” said Chris, reflecting on how he was pleasantly surprised by the engaging flow of the class and curriculum.
Finding the time: Fitting school days into real life
For Chris, the biggest challenge of the program was the time commitment. On top of the full-time job he was working from 8 – 5, the boot camp added 10 hours of class to his weekly schedule. Learning remotely was his saving grace: Chris was able to shave off time that he would have otherwise spent commuting back and forth to campus, while keeping the most important parts of his daily routine intact — like nightly dinner with his wife.
Staying inspired: The surprising possibilities of online learning
“I love solving puzzles and problems, and that’s exactly what coding is,” Chris said. “I find it very satisfying to know that anyone can learn this skill, and it doesn’t take tens of thousands of dollars — there’s plenty of online resources.”
Working together from afar: Remote project work with peers
At a traditional boot camp, learners don’t just sharpen new skills — they put them to use by building projects with teammates. For online boot camp learners, each project offers dual learning experiences: one in applying the new skills themselves, and another in discovering how to work alongside a remote team — exchanging ideas, combining code, and creating a clean final product from afar.
For Chris, projects were an opportunity to channel his outside interests as well. For instance, on one project, his team built a “movie library” that allowed users to sort films based on genre, actor, and more. “I’m a big movie watcher, so that project was an especially fun way for me to combine my new skills and my interests,” he said.
Every project was different, and groups rotated so boot camp learners could meet and collaborate with as many of their classmates as possible. “Working together remotely, we had to learn a lot about teamwork and coordinating,” Chris said. “If your piece of the project is relying on someone else’s, you need to be communicating and working together.”
Life after boot camp
Shortly after completing the program, Chris got a new job as a Software Engineer at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.
Today, Chris plans to keep working, building, and learning. As part of a proof-of-concept team, he works on long-term projects, building new tools and samples to demonstrate technological possibilities to internal team members and clients with functional mock-ups.
In Chris’s words, one of the best parts of the boot camp has become one of the best parts of his new career. “In the work that I do now, I get to solve a new problem every single day.”