After 25 Years in Software Development, This Cybersecurity Boot Camp Learner Made a Change


For 25 years, Bruce Rhoades worked as a software developer creating apps for a range of organizations from investment banks to educational institutions. Although each project brought new lessons and challenges, Bruce found himself craving a change. When downsizing necessitated layoffs, Bruce found himself back on the job market and decided it was the perfect time to build on his skills and pivot into something new: cybersecurity.

After comparing various boot camps, Bruce enrolled in Columbia Engineering Cybersecurity Boot Camp. Twenty-four weeks later, he found himself with fresh skills, a job offer, and an exciting new career.

Back to the classroom

When deciding on an educational path, Bruce was attracted to the boot camp because it was located near him in New York City, offered by Columbia, and, most importantly, served a thorough and comprehensive curriculum. Other, shorter courses that Bruce looked at merely scratched the surface; within 24 weeks, this boot camp enabled learners to genuinely master skills — something that was essential to Bruce as he transitioned from one industry to another.

Having graduated college in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Bruce coded professionally until 2019. On his return to the classroom, Bruce quickly discovered he had a lot to learn — and was eager to do so. 

Throughout the boot camp, learners, instructors, and course assistants worked together and supported one another — diving into collaborative projects and presentations, and getting everyone up to speed on new and challenging concepts. “There was good synergy in the classroom, with the instructors and [course] assistants, that made grasping concepts easier.”

At the start of boot camp, Bruce worked as a contract software engineer, but by the end he committed full-time to the course.

Beyond cybersecurity

One of the main skills that Bruce gained from the course was a deep, complex understanding of Python — and it ended up benefiting him just as much as the cybersecurity skills he developed at boot camp.

Later, when Bruce started looking for jobs, his understanding of Python came into play — both in the recruiting process and on the job. “Even after working in software development for so many years, learning Python opened me up and gave me a new outlook,” Bruce said.

Bruce also learned soft skills which are applicable to his newfound day-to-day. Because his boot camp required learners to give regular presentations about cybersecurity topics, he became a public speaker: a first in the midst of a well-developed career. In his new job as a cybersecurity engineer, his company, Forcepoint, holds weekly presentations where engineers can share and discuss industry topics. 

“Giving presentations on Demo Day helped me get comfortable presenting technical topics and public speaking in general,” said Bruce. “In my new job, presenting is an important skill that I tap into a lot.”

Looking to the future

Bruce quickly landed a job as a senior cyber engineer at Forcepoint, a cybersecurity company that specializes in user and data protection. Each day brings opportunities to use his newfound skills — from Python to public speaking. 

In under a year, Bruce pivoted into a new industry with new opportunities on the horizon.

What will you discover about yourself once you take the leap into technology? Explore Columbia Engineering Cybersecurity Boot Camp to find out.


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