After some years of strenuous work in the manufacturing industry, a maximum-security prison, and the military, Eric Fricke sought a place for himself in the ever-growing tech industry. His first step was to enroll in a part-time, full stack web development program with DigitalCrafts. Before even graduating from the program, he hit the ground running as he landed a job as a full stack developer. In his words, “The skills from the course are the only reason I have a job!”
Here’s his story.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending the program?
Right out of high school, I spent some time on active duty in the military. After that, I spent a few years in supervisory roles in manufacturing and logistics. I missed the feel of the military and decided to change careers and spent three years working in a correctional facility. The five years before I attended my bootcamp, I drove an Uber.
What motivated you to explore a career in tech?
I have been tinkering with websites since I was a kid in the 1990s when Geocities and Angelfire were all the rage. I had my first introduction to HTML all those years ago.
I’ve always enjoyed tech-related things but was afraid to turn a passion into a career with the fear being I’d lose the enjoyment once it became a job. After spending so many years in unfulfilling positions, I finally decided I should pursue something I enjoy and try to make a career out of it.
What did you like about DigitalCrafts? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
The initial pace was very student-friendly. The instructors understood students had different levels of familiarity and took the time to approach the basics step by step. The instructors and TA’s were also very aware of when the class struggled and made adjustments to the schedule to accommodate the students.
How did you fit the program into your schedule?
The part-time schedule was very easy to work with. My program was 10 hours per week in class plus whatever time you needed outside to keep up with the material. There were a few sections that required some out-of-class time, and obviously, the projects required extra time, but it was fairly easy to stay on pace with the course.
Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?
Our first project was a basic front end project. We used HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap to build a pretty basic page. The backend project was a basic front end with things like database creation and seeding. The final project encompassed everything we’d learned to that point, including some important items like OAuth.
Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?
Changing careers can be a scary idea. The material can be intimidating if you’ve never built anything before. Understanding the material can be hard. However, you should absolutely do it.
How did the program support you in finding a job?
Student services made several visits to the class to discuss resume building, social media profiles, and your personal portfolio. They provided an outline to get recognized. They also regularly posted open positions (not just entry-level) in their Slack channel.
Was the job search process different from what you expected?
If I’m being honest, I submitted a resume to a local manufacturing company looking for a front end developer about six weeks before our class was finished and was hired a week later. I got incredibly lucky and didn’t have to go through much of a process.
How many companies did you interview at? How did you choose which one to work with?
As previously stated, I only interviewed with one company and was offered the position less than a week later. They offered a package I was looking for, so there wasn’t a huge decision to be made. I was just excited to have a role in my new career before I’d even finished the course! I did receive offers to interview for other positions after I’d already accepted.
How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?
The skills from the course are the only reason I have a job! I’m currently redesigning the customer-facing websites on WordPress for my company and building two ecommerce solutions on BigCommerce. I had to walk in on Day 1 and start to pick up two languages that weren’t covered in my course (Python and PHP), so without the skills I learned at DigitalCrafts I’d have completely sunk.
What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?
Prior to changing careers, I was doing difficult jobs—working in weld shops without air conditioning in the summer, working the floor at a maximum-security prison. Now I can do something I enjoy, that isn’t stressful!
What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work?
Every day is challenging and rewarding. Since I took my first position out of a bootcamp, I’ve had to learn two different languages and work with two different providers (WordPress and BigCommerce) to meet my company’s needs. Not only does it feel great to know that I can meet those challenges, but the skills I pick up will only help further my career.
What do you enjoy about working at your current company? Are there any specific perks you enjoy?
I’m currently working remotely and asynchronously. I have a meeting to attend here or there, but for the most part, no one cares when I do my work, so long as it’s done when it’s supposed to be done. The freedom in my schedule is incredible.
Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?
It seems like a lot of developers are interested in remote options (and why wouldn’t they be), but if you’re struggling, try looking locally. I’m from Omaha, and I’ve already been contacted by a few small local businesses looking for help.
Note: DigitalCrafts cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. The experience of this alumnus may not be representative of all students. Not all programs are available to residents of all states.