Cover image for So You Want to be a Coder?

So You Want to be a Coder?

the_jeff_white profile image Jeff White ・3 min read

I quit my job.

In the middle of a global pandemic.

While millions are being placed on unemployment.

To attend a coding bootcamp?

I realize how crazy that may sound. Why would any sane person quit their comfortable, reliable job while masses of people are being laid off every day? From an outside perspective it doesn’t make much sense. To me, this feels like one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

For the past six years I have been a teacher. Teaching can be an incredibly rewarding and exhausting profession. Teachers do not receive enough credit for everything they have to do both inside and outside of the classroom. To be honest, I had been considering a change of profession for quite some time but I could never figure out what I wanted to pursue after education. Do I go back to school? Start over in an entry-level position somewhere? Nothing sounded like a good fit. I wondered if I was meant to stay in my teaching position and just “suck it up”.

Then COVID hit.

Seeing a global society faced with the reality of their own mortality gave me a new perspective: Life is fleeting and can be gone in an instant. I couldn’t wait around any longer for some “ideal” job opportunity to fall into my lap. I had to go out and find it. And I had no idea where to start.

But one day that all changed.

Tiktok Saves the Day!

It was literally two weeks before I would have to put in my notice at my school and I was scrolling through TikTok (like so many others during Quarantine) and I saw a woman’s video about how she graduated from high school and instead of going to college she enrolled in a coding bootcamp. She completed the program and was hired as a junior developer at the age of 19! I didn’t even know those types of things existed but I was curious.

I have always been interested in technology and the idea of software development but it always seemed like an unattainable field for me for some reason. I don’t know if it was the way that developers are portrayed in television and movies or just the fact that I knew nothing about programming, but it was just an industry I felt I could never pursue. But after learning that coding bootcamps existed I decided to do some research and I found a TON. How I had never heard of them before I didn’t know because they seemed to be everywhere and there were even local ones here in Columbus, Ohio.

Choosing Tech Elevator

Over the course of the following days, I narrowed my list down to three that I wanted to apply to and went for it. I was accepted into two pretty quickly but my top choice, Tech Elevator, had a waiting list and my time at my job was up. I had to make a decision: quit my job without knowing for sure if I got into Tech Elevator or enroll in my second or third choice. So I quit my job and I waited. Thankfully, Tech Elevator got back to me and offered me a spot in their 14-week full-stack Java program. I guess taking risks does pay of sometimes!

I just completed my first week of the program and I am loving it so far! It’s challenging, engaging, mind-numbing (at times) and fun. Because of the pandemic the program is completely virtual but Tech Elevator has done an amazing job at transitioning the program to a virtual platform. This week we learned about data types, variables, expressions, conditionals, arrays, loops and Command Line programs. Each day we have individual exercises to complete and we also had our first pair-programming exercise.

Moving Forward Can Be Scary

I'm trying my hardest not to think about the possibility of this program coming to an end and me not having a job. All I can do is put everything into this program and hope it pays off in the end. I am expecting the content to become even more difficult from here but I am excited for the challenges to come!

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Jeff White


Junior Software Developer. Java bootcamp student at Tech Elevator. Transitioning from a career in education to software development.


Editor guide

System.out.println(“Welcome to software, Jeff!”);

No matter what you’re coming from, or moving towards, it’s always exciting to take a leap of faith. I look forward to following along your adventure.

Out of curiosity, what made you go with Java as the focus of your boot camp?


Thanks, Joel! And to answer your question, the bootcamp I’m enrolled in only offers programs in Java and .NET. I chose Java because I’ve read that it’s a good language to learn as a beginner and has a lot of similarities to other languages I may want to learn in the future.


G'luck, Jeff! I gotta give cred to all teachers. It's almost a thankless job in America.

Java is still one of the most used languages out there and it's much more in-line with that's typically introduced to students in a CS program. Learning a statically typed language and then going into scripting ones like JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and the like is much easier than the other way around for most folks .NET is popular, too, just less so in the U.S. than internationally.

Thanks, David! That’s good information to know. We were introduced to JavaScript through freeCodeCamp but will go more in depth later on in the cohort.


Wow! We have such similar stories! I am a former teacher and have my Masters degree in teaching. Now, I have decided to quit and attend Boot Camp too! I have chosen to go to the University of Texas and begin in October through June 2021. I am very nervous and it is a scary process, but... I am trusting the process. Best of luck to you and keep in touch about your progress. I’ve already been learning some HTML prior to starting and love it! Again, all the best and success!


Good to luck to you too! I definitely understand the nervousness but once you start making progress the excitement of learning something new takes over!


Keep in touch so we can see each others progress!


Thanks for writing this, Jeff! It can all too common to encounter "gatekeeping" in the software community when some give impression that the only "right" way to get into development is by traditional career paths. Bootcamps can be fantastic ways to learn without having to worry if the content is outdated (and many more great reasons), and so I'm glad to read your experience.

I wish you the best of luck as you continue onward, and hope to see more posts from you!


Thanks, Olivia! I hope to post about once a week if time allows 🤞🏽


Good luck on your journey coding is life changing.