Clinton Bellingar was stuck in a cycle of working arduous hours at a pizzeria week after week to afford his computer science education. But upon realizing the lack of practical training in his degree program, he looked for alternative learning paths and found coding school Boca Code. He enrolled in the Software Engineering Career Course and successfully launched his career to become the Development Team Lead at Boca Code.
In his words, “I have a career rather than just a job…The pay is definitely a blessing, but the nonstop opportunity for growth and skill improvement is the highest payoff.”
Read on to learn more about Clinton’s tech career breakthrough.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending the program?
Before Boca Code, I was working 50-hour weeks at a pizzeria to pay for my final year of a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. The skills I wanted weren’t being taught by my university courses, and my passion for work wasn’t there. Being taught the same basic principles in several languages without the practical methods behind using them wasn’t working for me.
What motivated you to explore a new career or upskill in your field, and why did you decide to pick Boca Code?
I didn’t feel that my schooling was giving me the skills I wanted, but Boca Code offered those skills in a relaxed environment. In my school, we were taught how to write a sorting algorithm in C, C++, and Python. However, Boca Code used less than a full semester to teach me how to use that algorithm to manage the database of my own application.
What did you like about the program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
The program was the most stress-free education I have ever received. The atmosphere was centered around inquiry and learning rather than rote memorization and repetition. The students were encouraged to come up with ideas for an application and given guidance to build that app themselves.
Can you give us examples of projects that you worked on during the program?
There were several smaller projects that we worked on, including projects about database management and several full stack applications using rest APIs. Each of us was heavily encouraged to come up with our own projects as well.
Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?
Be ready to learn in a more abstract manner. The goal isn’t to obtain knowledge; the goal is to obtain the skills needed to obtain knowledge on-demand through research and trial. Don’t learn the language. Learn the principle. You can search the Internet for how to translate the solution to your language of choice, but only if you can logically work out what that solution is.
How did the program support you in finding a job?
Boca Code had a hiring fair at the end of the course and integrated soft skills development into the course load. Practice interview questions were available and local community hiring managers gave practice interviews as early as the third week.
Was the job search process different from what you expected?
It was much smoother than expected. The search was stress-free and easy, with the staff assisting outside of the school hours as needed. The staff also assisted in writing resumes and proofreading communications.
How many companies did you interview at? How did you choose which one to work with?
Several companies that were a part of the initial hiring fair were in communication with me in the following weeks of the program. I made my decision based on the skills that a company offered us and the culture of the company that I would be working with. I ended up being interviewed by eight different companies.
How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?
Very plainly, I have a career now that I did not have before. The ability to work as part of a development team was crucial. Several of the soft skills learned were valuable when working with several managers.
Most importantly, my ability to pick up new skills has been heavily improved upon. I can tackle a number of technical challenges that would have previously stumped me. Now, any issues I deal with have become daily tasks instead of weeklong problems.
What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?
I have a career rather than just a job. The extra income has allowed me to take care of some of the biggest stresses in my life as well as to take better care of my health and family. My ability to approach problems, whether technical or not, has greatly improved.
What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work?
There isn’t a problem in this world today that technology cannot solve. All it takes is the right person leveraging the right tool in the right fashion, and suddenly every problem disappears. Software development is that tool.
What do you enjoy about working at your current company, are there any specific perks you enjoy?
The pay is definitely a blessing, but the nonstop opportunity for growth and skill improvement is the highest payoff. The languages I currently know compared to the languages I knew when I started at the company show how much I have grown.
Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?
Take advantage of first impressions. The way you present yourself is invaluable. Don’t try too hard to impress, and don’t diminish your worth or value. The right job is out there, and the wrong job is never worth settling for.