As a music professional, Lyman McBride struggled to find employment in his chosen field, especially during the pandemic. He then took on a full-time dad role, caring for his two kids. Soon, the hard-hitting impacts of unemployment began to kick in and Lyman knew he had to switch gears. That’s when he found The Tech Academy. Now, he’s a software engineer at JobNimbus, making around $70,000. This is his story.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending the program?
All of my college degrees are in music performance (highest level: master’s). The year before attending the bootcamp, I was a stay-at-home dad for my wife, who was in the first year of her master’s program.
I’m a trombone player and still enjoy performing at professional gigs, learning together with great music professionals, and growing in this area of my life. I also have two kids and enjoy being at home with them.
What motivated you to explore a new career or upskill in your existing field, and why did you decide to pick this program?
I graduated with my final music degree in 2020, a pretty challenging time for live performers. I submitted several IT and arts administration applications, including a position I was first in line for at the school I attended.
To my dismay, all arts organizations and non-profits were on a hiring freeze at the time. I realized that I would prefer to be a technology professional than an arts administrator, so I started exploring, even on Codecademy. When I was sure I wanted to do it, I signed up for my bootcamp, which landed me my job.
How did you finance your education, and what were some of your biggest considerations when making this choice?
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The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
My college degrees were financed through loans. The bootcamp was through an investment fund my wife and I jointly hold. It was a challenging and scary decision because, in some ways, it meant turning my back on a professional music career. I’m happy to continue my music career part-time while working full-time at a great company.
What did you like about the program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
For me, it was the perfect situation. I was home with the kids and needed to study during odd hours (5am, 8pm, 11am to 1pm). This bootcamp was self-paced, so I could log on at any time and make progress.
The teachers were knowledgeable and dedicated to your success. The job placement department specifically was very invested in my job progress right up until I got my job. They checked in regularly, scheduled mock interviews, and helped me with my resume/cover letters.
How did you fit the program into your schedule?
I had a few hours of babysitting during the day, and then the rest I did outside of working hours, either early in the morning or while my wife was doing homework. All you need is discipline to complete this program because it is self-paced (except for them bugging you about your progress). I had a lot of motivation with my wife in school and kids at home.
Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?
I worked on a website to track professional concerts of interest for a classical music goer like me. I also built a CMS for a theater in Portland and my website and other small projects like a tic tac toe game and a blackjack game.
Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?
Just make sure you are invested in the decision and enjoy coding. For me, it was scary to spend the money on a career change, and my commitment grew with each course I completed. However, I had a lot of help and motivation to do it. I’d say if you really enjoy coding and want a career that you like, it’s a good investment.
How did the program support you in finding a job?
The job placement department was very present in my whole job search experience. They checked in on applications submitted, scheduled mock interviews, acted as references, and even looked for open positions they could recommend. I felt really supported during that scary time because submitting job applications is hard, and I am glad for the support. They continued that support even after graduation.
Was the job search process different from what you expected?
I knew I would feel more secure and qualified after completing the bootcamp, and I was confident of what I had learned in the bootcamp, so I put in a lot of work to get the job.
How many companies did you interview at? How did you choose which one to work with?
I was in the interview process at one other company when I got my job. I had had a couple of interviews with other companies, but nothing past the initial screening. I was referred to my current company by a friend who was confident that it has a good company culture. It was also the first job I was offered.
How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?
I learned C# on my bootcamp and that is now my primary language. Debugging, problem-solving code, and learning how to do new things online are all important skills that I use now.
I knew the bare minimum to get started at my job and have been learning bit by bit each day from books, online resources, personal experience, and conversations with other developers. I’m surprised at how much the bootcamp taught me that other developers learned in CS degrees. I feel like my track was extensive for a short program.
What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?
I have a job! Unemployment is brutal and takes a toll on your relationships, quality of life, and self-esteem. Having a regular paycheck is the most significant difference. Knowing that I have a viable career and don’t have to work through the tiny starting salaries of small orchestras is really comforting.
What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work (software engineering, UX design, etc.)?
It’s a new challenge most days for me. I’m sure that it will change as time goes on. I will always be learning. It’s really fulfilling to build software, and it’s surprisingly similar to music. Consistent feedback from peers, always striving for better craftsmanship, strong teamwork, mentoring—It’s all wrapped up in software engineering as a career.
What do you enjoy about working at your current company, are there any specific perks you enjoy (work hours, pay, time off, etc.)?
Most technology professionals today can enjoy flexible schedules from Day 1. I worked Friday from home during my first week. I now go to the office two to three times a week and work from home the rest of the week. They are flexible with PTO and encourage my music-making and gigs. They are dedicated to their employees and company culture, garnering employee buy-in to the company culture and product.
Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?
Try your best to network. I wasn’t super good at it, but I found some people willing to help me, and their referral got me an interview at JobNimbus. I did a coding challenge every day (off of CodeWars.com). That helped me a lot.
Try to treat your job search like a full-time job; six to eight hours a day, seven to 10 applications submitted per day. Attend meetups. It will eventually pay off.