Coding Bootcamp Grad Finds A Career That Aligns With His Needs
Coding bootcamp graduate, Brian Bross was seeking a career change that would provide him with the opportunity to spend more time with his family. He had secured a degree in culinary arts but was tired of spending nights and holidays away from his two young girls. With the encouragement of a good friend and after hearing rave reviews about our program he decided to give We Can Code IT a shot. The career change provided Brian with the opportunity of security, stability, and time with his family. With the supportive environment of the We Can Code IT staff, Brian was able to secure a job that aligned with his needs. Learn more about Brian’s experience and how the program helped make his transition into software development easier.
There’s a lot of pressure on the individual, but the administrative and instructor teams were welcoming, warm, engaging and really made it a much more comfortable environment.
What was your education and career background before attending We Can Code IT?
I had studied electrical engineering at Ohio University, and that was roughly a decade ago. I had pursued the career path of being a chef. So I had gone to work in restaurants, kitchens, catering in hotels, and that kind of stuff. I got a culinary degree in Portland, Oregon in 2006. After working in the industry, it brought me back to Columbus. With a five-year-old at home, I was getting tired of missing nights, weekends, and holidays. So I needed a career change to allow me an opportunity to be with my family.
What made you decide on We Can Code IT?
There was a lot of good information out there, and a lot of good reviews. The word of mouth was really positive, but a big deciding factor was that one of the instructors was a long-time good friend of mine. That was a big motivating piece.
Just knowing how quickly the tech industry is growing and with its stability, it seemed like a field that would be rewarding and challenging at the same time. Also, the conversations that I had with friends and acquaintances that had been in the industry were very encouraging for me because their quality of life was more aligned with what I wanted for my family. So it seemed like an appropriate industry for me to get into. Having studied engineering in a previous life we’ll say, it seemed like the transition was going to be easier since I already had a little basic understanding of concepts.
What was your coding experience before attending the We Can Code IT program?
Other than what I had done decades ago at OU, basically nothing. I think in 2005 I made a silly little static HTML page once, and that was really it. So other than that basically nothing.
What were some of your first impressions (aside from who you already knew) of the We Can Code IT staff and instructors?
I was very comfortable with all of them. They’re approachable and very personable. There was a casual familiarity amongst them that made the environment easy to be apart of.
Going into a program like that knowing how intense it’s going to be, obviously there were some discomforts. I was like “I’m going to be learning how to do this in just 14 weeks?!” There’s a lot of pressure on the individual, but the administrative and instructor teams were welcoming, warm, and engaging and really made it a much more comfortable environment.
…the experience at WCCI is very industry accurate. That has made the transition into my first job easier because I’m already comfortable with the workflow of it.
What did you like most about your We Can Code IT experience?
There was such a strong push for industry accuracy, with the check-ins every morning and check outs at the end of the day. As well as the lunch and learns, and sprint set up. There were three-week modules and each module had three-day sprints. So that set up got us familiar with the process. Now I have started a company where I’m seeing those same things. The check-ins in the mornings, the “we run two-week sprints here,” the way they do the scrum boards and the way processes are handled seems to reflect exactly how I experienced it at WCCI. This leads me to believe that the research was done, and the experience at WCCI is very industry accurate. That has made the transition into my first job easier because I was already comfortable with the workflow of it.
I would definitely say that the experience there has made learning to code easy. It was definitely a great springboard to get into the industry and get the tools I need to continue to grow.
Did We Can Code IT make your coding experience easier?
Absolutely. For sure. The structure of the material presentations started with the very basics which were pretty standard, and everything built on the previous lessons. Each project had a new focus, and the whole module was on a concept built upon previous modules and previous concepts. It drove us towards that capstone idea of “can you use all of it or just the correct pieces to make a working application?” So yeah, I would definitely say that the experience there has made learning to code easy. It was definitely a great springboard to get into the industry and get the tools I need to continue to grow.
The team at WCCI was very adamant that they are our resources and they can provide us with more resources, and guide us in the direction to do our own research and learning.
What was one of the biggest things that you learned from your experience with We Can Code IT?
There was a lot of talk on the subject of imposter syndrome where you feel like you don’t know anything. The take away I got from that talk was while none of us knows everything, we know and can do more than we think of ourselves. The best part is knowing how to use our resources.
The team at WCCI was very adamant that they were our resources and they can provide us with more resources, and guide us in the direction to do our own research and learning.
As an example, I sat down at my desk for the first day and was asked to do a coding challenge in a coding language I had never even heard of, but it was great because I knew where to look for those things. I know how to use my resources to figure it out and work my way through the process. The take away that I got was having confidence in yourself, and that nobody knows everything. We just know what we know and then work together, and use our resources. This was the big key to success.
The job searching…I was getting second and third interviews, coding exams, and offer letters. I was able to position myself to where I could compare…
What was the job search process like for you?
I would take weekly one on ones with the career service advisor, and it would always go like “here’s what I’ve done” “here’s what I’m doing,” and she was always like “sounds great.” (laughs) So there wasn’t always a “hey I need help with this,” it was just updates and making sure I’m moving in the right direction.
I was very active in making genuine connections and networking. I was going to two or three networking events a week, ….doing school, work, and homework every night. As well as helping raise two kids. It was a really intense few months for me.
The job searching…I knew going in that the end of the calendar year was not going to be in my favor. I went in knowing that, and I was able to help ease the tensions of some of my classmates because they were not prepared for the lack of responses, and slow-moving in the hiring process. However, staying as active as I did in the initial processes put me in the position where around Christmas I was getting second and third interviews, coding exams, and offer letters. I was able to position myself to where I could compare offer letters, do the negotiating that was needed, and select the one that was the best fit for me.
What was the interview process like for getting the role you have now?
They were in attendance at Demo Day. As I understand, it was the fourth time they went. There were a couple of representatives I got to network and meet with. One of them I spoke to at length towards the end of Demo Day. So I hadn’t thought much about it because it was a company I had never heard of. It wasn’t on my radar until when about a week later they reached out to me.
We had a few email exchanges and set up a first in-person interview. At that point, I was trying to play catch up on research and find out as much as I could about the company. I came in on the Friday before Christmas for my first in-person interview. I was told that it would be about four hours and it was nothing short of four hours. When I left I felt really good about the whole environment, the people I met with, and that the interview had gone really smooth. It started with a coding piece and then I went through and met with the different departments as well as interviewed with each of them. Since it was a small team that was very easy to do. Before the end of the day, I had a letter from the company saying that they really wanted to move forward, and needed references and authorization to do a background check. Right after the weekend, I had an offer letter.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, I had a phone call with the president and HR representative talking about things in the offer letter and some of the questions I had. Then they did background reference checks, and I had a phone call after the New Year saying they’d like me to start Monday. So they moved very fast, and it was a nice experience because of the amount of previous delays. As an example, I had three interviews with Chase before Thanksgiving and didn’t hear from them for about a month and a half after reaching out to them.
Tell us about your new career. How has it been with your new role?
Everybody here is very welcoming. When I walked in within minutes of knowing where my desk would be, I was provided with a nerf gun so that if there was a battle the team was well prepared (laughs). Very casually professional.
Everybody here has the idea of work hard and have fun at work while you’re doing it. The structure here is nine-hour days with an hour lunch to kind of break it up, and give you a chance to walk away and have a little bit of a break in the middle of the day.
It’s very engaging. As an example, we needed to put risers on the table that I’m using as a desk, and someone made a comment and the whole team walked over to pick up the desk and get the risers in place and put it together. So it wasn’t just like me sweating in a corner trying to figure out how to do it. Everybody just kind of locked their terminals and walked over to help do it without being asked. So it’s a very close-knit team. They’re very comfortable to be with. The president and the CEO both have offices in the building and are regularly walking around. They’re on a first-name basis. They’re easily approachable.
I’m definitely very happy here.
Anything else to add about We Can Code IT?
Great operation and a great program. I’m seeing the vacancies in this industry that need to be filled. There’s a way to get there.