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How a Coding Bootcamp Changed My Life

23 January 2019Written by Coder Academy
Clayton Waldock describes his journey from construction labourer to junior developer.

Once upon a time, there was a young adult living and working as a construction labourer in a tiny town in the Australian outback, and quite frankly, he was miserable. He worked his ass off for days on end for a decent enough paycheck, but working in hard, hot and backbreaking conditions. This young adult had a dream of moving back to the city he came from and working in a job that 1) paid better, and 2) didn’t leave him wondering what he was going to do with his life. Eventually, he decided to stop toying with the idea and started looking for opportunities and ways to achieve his goal and put himself into a career that flexed his mental muscles and had room for large-scale growth in the future. And then he found the answer, he was to be a programmer!

If you haven’t guessed already, this young adult was me. I knew university wasn’t my cup of tea but after doing some self-study with the limited internet I had in the middle of the bush I decided I wanted to write code for a living. I searched around for any opportunities in the nearby towns for someone who would be able to teach me, but there was nothing but retail stores and farm suppliers to be seen. So I came to the conclusion that I would have to either go to university or stay working my dead-end job and teach myself how to code with my limited time and internet connection. This was until I saw an ad for a 25-week coding bootcamp in Brisbane, called Coder Academy, which offered 1-month industry experience and an extremely high conversion rate of students into tech employees. After many long arguments and discussions with my family, I decided to bite the bullet and enrol in the next class that would start in 2 months’ time.

So the two months of waiting went by and it was time to pack my bags and go off to the big city and start a career in a field nobody in my family had ever thought about doing. I had not that much money, no technical skills and most of all no way of knowing if this was going to pay off in the end. It was quite frankly the biggest risk I had ever taken in my life and I was terrified.

As the weeks went by I learned how to write Ruby, HTML, and CSS and oh boy was my brain fried. The workload was on the edge of unbearable but I learned enough to be comfortable with it. There were days when I would fail time and time again but slowly as my mind shifted into a more logical and step-based way of thinking I found that things became more and more understandable. Day by day things became clearer and exponentially more enjoyable, and the feeling when a topic clicks is undoubtedly the best feeling in existence.

Then just as my confidence with the content was getting high we were snapped back to reality with our first assignment, the two-sided marketplace built with Ruby on Rails. We were introduced to topics such as sales handling, authentication, developing complex shopping cart systems and other tasks that melted my mind. Which looking back at them now are actually quite basic. We then moved on to the fun stuff, JavaScript. We learnt how to build backend systems with Node.js and frontend systems with React.js and Vue.js, these building blocks allowed us to build whatever our heart desired, with some practice of course.

READ: Frontend vs Full Stack vs Backend Web Development

We were also given the opportunity to go on one-month internships with startups and other large companies in Brisbane, and this is where I got the biggest surprise of my life. After interviewing with a few companies I decided to go with a small startup that was developing mobile applications in React Native. React Native is a JavaScript library that allows you to use JS to build really nice mobile applications. Soon after the interviews, we were to go on a one-week holiday so I offered to come in and work with the company for free for a week to figure out just what it was that I needed to learn to be the best I could be in the upcoming internship.

After the week was up I realised how much I still had to learn and how many things I could improve on, but I also saw that I was able to hold my own in a professional environment thanks to the course. And with 5 days of commercial experience, 8 weeks of study left and nothing to lose I asked the CEO for a part-time job while I finished the course, with the chance to start full-time when the internships start. Apparently, I was promising enough for them to say yes.

As the weeks went by I became better and better at my job, I was learning new skills and passing them on to the rest of the class on my study days. And when the time came for the internships I was handed a full-time employment contract. This was something I could have never dreamed of, I was only expecting to maybe if I was lucky, get a job 2–3 months after graduation. But no, I was employed full-time before I had even got my certificate!

To this day I have never looked back, the tech community is such an incredible and open market filled with so many beautiful human beings and I couldn’t ask for a better career. If you are thinking of a career in development and have what it takes to dedicate yourself to learning how to code and dealing with the failures that come with it, I could not encourage you enough. Not only have I started down a path that has an incredible amount of potential, but I have also transformed my life into something I believe is worth living, which is something I could not say before the Bootcamp.


Written by Clayton Waldock.

Follow Clayton’s journey on Twitter and Medium as he continues on his journey.

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