Robert A. Gordon, Jr. flourished as an Operations Manager in the Marine Corps, but as his journey in the military ended, he knew it was time to pursue another passion of his—tech. Ready for exciting challenges, he transitioned successfully through the Operation Level Up program at renowned coding bootcamp, Galvanize. Armed with his past experiences in the military and new tech skills gained from the bootcamp, Robert is now a thriving Software Engineer.
“My values are simple: Create value for people everywhere I go, and try to make the world a better place. My company nurtures this mindset every day within my work as a Software Engineer,” says Robert.
Find out how this inspiring veteran was able to make the switch—despite little to no background in tech—with the help of Galvanize.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending Galvanize?
Before attending Galvanize’s Operation Level Up, I was in the Marine Corps as an Operations Manager. I held various duties that are administrative and operational-aligned assignments. I was in charge of groups of various sizes, from 20 to 160 personnel. My duties included coaching and mentoring personnel, tracking tasks periodically, and organizing operational events throughout the year.
Why did you pursue a new career or upskill in your field? What inspired you to choose this bootcamp?
As I was about to leave the Marine Corps, I wanted to find a new career that would challenge and help me grow personally and professionally. I have always loved technology, so I wanted to see if I could have a career there…I stumbled upon Galvanize and chose to pursue their program.
When I started on their preparation material, I sensed that their program would be challenging and rewarding. Not many programs require you to prove yourself before you can attend.
How did you finance your education?
Since I was in the military, we had VET TEC [Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses]. It fully funds military service members and veterans to attend different programs and help them succeed in the civilian sector.
What did you like about Galvanize? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
I loved the camaraderie the program instills in its students…The bonds I created with others will stick with me forever as a developer. The instructors were also quite humble and patient…Being an instructor, especially for something as technical as software engineering, is not easy. But they made it look easy.
How did you fit Galvanize’s Operation Level Up into your schedule?
I was able to take the last six months of my Marine Corps career to attend the program and give it my full attention through the SkillBridge program. The program allows transitioning service members the ability to upskill in the career they want to transition to while in service.
Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?
The two [projects] that stuck with me were the Ticket Management System and the Workout application project.
The Ticket Management System was created for a client that oversaw four different campuses. They needed their personnel to communicate, keep track of maintenance requests, and improve organization processes. And the Workout project I made was a simple full stack application that lets users keep track of their workouts, exercises, diet, and other health and wellness information in one place.
Do you have any advice for someone considering Galvanize’s Operation Level Up program?
Bring your best effort, expect to go through a challenging process, and do not give up. As long as you believe in yourself and trust the process, you can be successful.
Did the job search post-bootcamp turn out as expected? How did the job search process differ from your expectations?
The job search was a bit more challenging than I expected due to the state of the economy [post-pandemic]. It took me a while to find my position in the community.
With how many companies did you interview? How did you choose which one to work with?
I interviewed with over a dozen different companies and my choice depended on three basic principles:
1. Are there opportunities for growth in this company, and can they nurture that growth?
2. Does the company care about our mental well-being, and do they provide any help to take care of ourselves?
3. Are the pay and benefits aligned with [the requirements of the job] and our needs?
Once these three principles were met, [making a choice] was simple.
How did the program support you in finding a job? Did you find a job after the bootcamp?
The bootcamp has Career Service Managers that prep you for interviews, resume writing, job hunting, and more. They are experienced, patient, and well-connected. It made the process a bit more bearable, knowing I had someone rooting for me.
How are the skills you gained from the course helpful in your current career?
The technical skills we learned aligned with the industry standards and best practices. The interpersonal skills we were able to nurture allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and continuously grow professionally and personally.
What are the most satisfying aspects of your job? What motivates you to keep doing it?
My job allows me to grow as an individual and as a team player…The fact that I can work remotely also gives me the freedom and flexibility to pursue my professional and personal goals while keeping my well-being in mind.
Being a developer, new challenges and technology surface all the time. And being able to learn and use them motivates me even more.
How does your current company align with your values and goals? Are there any benefits or perks that make working for this company particularly enjoyable?
My values are simple: Create value for people wherever I go, and try to make the world a better place. My company nurtures this mindset every day within my work as a Software Engineer.
My goal is to become a Senior Software Engineer, where I can coach and mentor other developers. And my company fosters this by supplying me with opportunities for growth.
In what ways has your life changed since attending the bootcamp? Can you describe any notable differences in your life pre- and post-bootcamp?
My quality of life has changed drastically. I have more freedom and flexibility to pursue what truly makes me happy and to help others. This is why I work so hard in life…Since graduating from the bootcamp and transitioning out of the military, I have been able to travel, work wherever, and use the best equipment that the industry can provide. This has helped me grow significantly faster than my previous experience.
If I aspire to be in your line of work, what are the most crucial skills I should be working on right now?
The most crucial skills to have are patience, understanding, willingness to learn, attention to detail, and—above all else—a growth mindset.