Juan came to the United States to pursue an education in music. While working two jobs in the music field he realized he wanted to find a way to spend more time with his family while still supporting them well financially. He initially tried the self-taught approach to learning to code but ultimately decided that attending We Can Code IT’s coding bootcamp would have a greater outcome. His strategy paid off. He landed a well-paying and balanced career as a software developer at Progressive days before graduating.
I grew up in Ecuador. I came to the US when I was 17 because I wanted to go to college here and study music. I convinced my parents to sign me up for a foreign exchange student program so that I could learn English and apply to different schools while finishing high school. I had already graduated in Ecuador but decided to have a second senior year here to get familiar with the culture and learn the language. After applying and auditioning I got a scholarship to attend Baldwin Wallace University’s Conservatory of Music. I started in the fall of 2003 and graduated in the spring of 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music.
After graduation I got a job at Dr. Z Amplification. It was a job that I got through a friend of a friend. I was happy to be working in a field somewhat related to the music industry. I worked my way up from packing amplifiers to building circuit boards. While working there I also enrolled in Tri-C’s Recording Arts and Technology Program. There I learned about Audio Production and started working as an Audio Engineer on the side. I worked 60 to 70 hour weeks between my two jobs. I was proud to be able to provide for my family but I really didn’t get to spend too much time with my kids. At Dr Z, I helped the company revamp their website, social media, product releases, advertising and slowly became the Media Manager. I taught myself some HTML and CSS, photoshop, Illustrator and how to use Google Analytics but at some point I realized I could only go so far by reading books, watching tutorials and guessing my way through code. Plus I felt stuck professionally too. There was no future and I was working way too hard to be living paycheck to paycheck and be so uncertain about my future.
I was really interested in learning code and becoming a developer but going back to college just didn’t seem like a possibility. I had no time left after work and trying to spend some quality time with my family plus the last thing I needed was debt from another 4 year degree. That’s when I started thinking about coding bootcamps… I decided to attend We Can Code It after carefully reviewing, applying, interviewing and visiting a few bootcamps in the Cleveland area. From the moment I talked to their staff and visited their facility I knew it was the right choice for me.
Their staff has three qualities (among many others) that were very important to me: They are extremely knowledgeable. They are very good at teaching what they know to students with different kinds of backgrounds and experience. They care about their students’ future and quality of life. Plus they make an effort to support diversity in tech by offering scholarships to minorities, women and households earning under $47,000/year. They did an amazing job at preparing me for a job in tech. Everything I learned was exactly what was listed as “required skills” for every job I applied. Their career services were very helpful. Their staff assisted students with everything from reviewing resumes and cover letters, to practice interviews and personally taking the time to talk to potential employers about their students.
I started looking at what jobs and companies were out there before I even started the bootcamp. I made a list of top companies that I wanted to work for. The jobs had skill requirements that seemed foreign to me but I also noticed that WCCI’s curriculum matched those topics. Half way through the bootcamp I felt like reading those same skill requirements [and they] didn’t seem so foreign to me anymore. We had either covered them or talked about them and were getting ready to learn more about them before the end of the 12 weeks. So I started the application process about 5 or 6 weeks before the end of the bootcamp. My plan was to have 30 applications out there by the end of the 12 weeks. By the time I had applied for about 8 jobs Leslie asked me to send her a list of companies where I applied and also asked me what was my top choice. I told her I really liked Progressive. She mentioned she was gonna visit their campus and talk to their IT manager. She made it seem like this was a real possibility. I also know somebody who works there so I asked them to send an employee referral. All of these events lined up perfectly. I applied for a senior level position since I couldn’t find an “entry level” job available at Progressive. Now I know it’s called Associate. I knew I just wanted to get my resume to their HR department so an unqualified application was better than none. Progressive was extremely helpful and actually contacted me to let me know that I didn’t meet the qualifications for that position but that they could send my file to the right place and for the right “entry level” job. A few days later I got a call from a recruiter and after a short conversation I was able to schedule a phone interview with an IT Manager who was in charge of new “entry level” hires. This IT Manager happened to be the same one Leslie and Mel talked to. I had my interview with the IT Manager that same day. Progressive is such a great company. They make you feel at ease even during these interviews. The conversation went very well and I was asked to come in for two one-hour interviews the following week. After the interview I got a phone call that night with an offer. I will never forget that moment. It felt like all my efforts had finally paid off. I really like my new career. The future seems so bright and full of opportunities. I am now able to be home with my family on nights and weekends and don’t have to worry about an uncertain future.