Andrew Popp was working video production for live events after graduating college. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and these events could no longer take place, Andrew was out of a job.
With some coding experience under his belt, Andrew decided to view quarantine as the perfect time to expand his tech skills, so he enrolled in the KU Coding Boot Camp to gain new skills, a new perspective, and a new job.
Learning, learning, and more learning
Going into the boot camp, Andrew hoped to expand on the digital skills he already had, while gaining new coding skills that he could put towards a new career. He was working a few part-time jobs, which were difficult to find in the midst of the pandemic, and balanced odd hours with the boot camp.
“It was a bit of a grind during the first couple of months,” he said. “Once I got into a rhythm where I set aside certain amounts of time outside of the boot camp for projects, homework, or just going over lessons on my own, it was easier to manage.”
He utilized different resources the boot camp had to offer, like tutors and office hours when he felt he needed extra help, but he tried to figure things out by himself for the most part.
“One thing I was really happy to have gained from the boot camp was a desire to learn,” he said. “The instructor really emphasized going out of our way to figure out whatever problems we were struggling with, so I was always looking up tutorials or Udemy courses that would help me solve things on my own.”
Working on finding work
Andrew started applying for jobs right away — polishing his portfolio, resume, and cover letter — while seeking help from the boot camp’s career services team to make him more competitive.
“The people in career services know it’s a big challenge to come out of a boot camp and find work. A lot of people really struggle, but they were really understanding and encouraging,” he said.
He began sending his resume out to companies, some of which sent rejections or no response at all. But, by working with the boot camp’s career services team, he was able to hone in on interview practice techniques to help bolster his confidence and push forward through the process.
“Especially if it’s a tech interview, it’s really important so you can focus on explaining your code and practice pseudo coding,” he said. “It just helps you feel more confident that you know what you’re talking about.”
Eventually, Andrew landed an internship with Light Up the Dark LLC as a Full Stack Developer. He worked there for seven months before accepting a job with HCI Energy, a company that provides renewable energy solutions. As a Full Stack Developer, Andrew and his team are currently working on the second version of a software that will accompany a solar and wind generator.
He starts his day by checking Trello, a project management app his team uses to assign tasks. He then meets with his team to touch base on what needs to be done that day, and gets to work. Andrew meets with one of his co-workers often throughout the day, but works solo the majority of the time.
Remaining a lifelong student
Just like in the boot camp, Andrew enjoys the continuous learning that comes with his new job.
“My team is more than willing to let me learn in my free time and while I’m at work,” he said. “If there’s something I need to take an hour to look at a tutorial for or go through a Udemy course, they’re happy to let me do that.”
Even in his off time Andrew practices working with code that he doesn’t use every day at work to stay up to date on the latest trends and frameworks.
“I think coders limit themselves by only practicing what they use at work. If I just stuck with React, even though it’s one of the most popular frameworks out there, I feel like I’d be setting myself up for failure,” he said.
In the future, Andrew hopes to move up to a senior-level coding position where he’d have the opportunity to lead a team of coders. For now, he’s enjoying his role and encourages anyone interested in a boot camp to give it a shot and push through.
“There comes a point in the course where I think people start to second guess themselves, and the best advice I can give is to stick with it,” he said “I don’t know if people feel burned out or start to lose confidence, but there are so many resources out there to help you get through the boot camp. And once you do, it’s so worth it.”
If you’re interested in learning a new set of skills that will help you step into the tech industry, explore KU Boot Camps in coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, and more.