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12-Week Software Engineering Immersive

Jon Lasley

Jon Lasley’s passion for innovation and problem-solving inspired him to take a bold step toward a more fulfilling career. Tired of the predictability of his day job as a report writer, he decided to pivot to software engineering. After extensive research, he chose to further his education with the help of Hack Reactor by Galvanize, one of the best launching pads for aspiring software engineers.

Today, he’s living his dream as a Cloud Software Engineer for Abbott. This is his inspiring journey.

Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending Hack Reactor?

I was a report writer for a pharmaceutical research organization [where] I would spend hours every day opening Excel documents and manually moving information into Word documents. That was the exciting part. The rest of the time was spent fiddling with margins, scanning documents for the dreaded “double space”, and fixing weird behavior in the tables of contents.

What motivated you to explore a new career path, and why did you pick Hack Reactor?

I have always been passionate about software and tried to learn as much as possible…In my spare time, I would create macros, scripts, and little snippets of software to automate mundane daily tasks…I realized that I was having the time of my life, so I decided to actively pursue it.

I self-studied for a good six months…but throughout the process, I kept hitting topics that made no sense to me…That’s where the bootcamp came in. I chose Hack Reactor because their Intermediate Coding Bootcamp seemed the most rigorous. [You have to take an] entrance exam for the 12-week program, indicating that they cared about my ability to succeed more than my money. [They also provide] continuing support for their graduates.

How did you finance your education, and what were some of your biggest considerations when making this choice?

I took out a loan to finance my bootcamp. I did the math on…[what] I could possibly end up owing Hack Reactor via the Income Sharing Agreement and picked the lowest number.

What did you like about Hack Reactor by Galvanize? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?

The Intermediate Coding Bootcamp was split into two phases. [In the first phase,]…we were given a short introduction to JavaScript, then learned about data structures and algorithms…This phase was probably my favorite because I love tinkering and playing with what was given to me. The second phase was more about introducing us to what I call “software with a capital S”…The amount of technologies I was exposed to is exactly why I wanted to do the bootcamp in the first place.

How did you fit the program into your schedule?

I did the full-time program, so I completely invested my time in learning. I would take small breaks during the day to walk my dog or make lunch, but I was pretty much on the go the whole time.

Can you give us any examples of projects you worked on during the program?

My favorite project was a design intensive, where we were tasked to construct a system that could withstand heavy loads. I designed a database system for generating recommendations to users…I had the freedom to pick whatever database I wanted, so I picked a graph database—a niche technology…By examining the database, not only could I generate accurate recommendations, but I could also ask better questions because I could see the way everything was connected.

Do you have any advice for someone considering Hack Reactor?

I would highly recommend that anyone considering entering the Intermediate Coding Bootcamp to self-study [and] figure out if it’s what you like to do or not. People have different assumptions about what a software developer does, and they can lead to a rude awakening down the line.

Did you find a new position after the program?

I found a new job as a Cloud Software Engineer for Abbott.

How did Hack Reactor by Galvanize support you in finding a job?

I found a job pretty quickly after graduation, so I didn’t make extensive use of the Job Search Program that was provided to us.

Was the job search process different from what you expected?

The people at Hack Reactor’s Career Services team did a great job in preparing me for the application and interview process…They helped tremendously in keeping my head up through tough times and for what’s to come.

How many companies did you interview at?

I was interviewed by four companies. The company that hired me made the technology that we used in the course, which I thought was super cool. It was the language I wanted that offered interesting challenges, and, most importantly, [the company] had a great culture.

How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?

The most useful thing I learned at Hack Reactor was the ability to take in new information quickly and meet new challenges readily.

What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?

I’m happy, haha! I work from home, I make way too much money, and I’m growing and learning every day.

What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work?

I just love to think about things, toy around with them, then see what happens. How many careers allow you to sit, stare at the screen, and THINK, then a few keystrokes later, make it work?

What do you enjoy about working at your current company? Are there any specific perks you enjoy?

My current company has an incredible system designed by very intelligent people, and it’s rewarding to learn more about it each day. That being said, there are also lots of opportunities I could contribute, ranging from actual performance optimizations to improving existing documentation.

Do you have any job search advice for someone considering pursuing a career in your field?

If you want to be a backend developer, I think it’s important to not only develop language-agnostic skills (data structures, algorithms, system design) but also become an expert in your language of choice. The quirks and perks of a language are what make it unique. So, make it work FOR you!

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