When Luis Perez began to dabble in coding, in 2006, the internet was a scrappier animal: Myspace was still a behemoth, Facebook had just come on the scene, and websites weren’t optimized for mobile devices. For Luis, a high schooler at the time, the online landscape represented a world of possibility.
“Growing up playing video games, I was always interested in technology. Websites were just starting to get more advanced and it was really exciting to see that look and feel. I was excited to take HTML and Flash programming classes in high school,” he said.
He didn’t realize it then, but years later he would be back behind a computer, rekindling his youthful passion for creating websites—and making a career out of it.
After graduating from high school, Luis decided to pursue a path in electrical engineering. He was pleased to be able to draw on his roots in coding, taking classes in Java and C++. Unfortunately, like many people, he soon had to pivot.
“Certain things happened in life, and I couldn’t go forward with full-time education,” he said.
Undeterred by circumstance, Luis decided to move to California with his friends. When he got a job at a car garage, he thought Maybe I’ll be a mechanic. He soon realized, though, that he wanted to return to his original love of tech.
Things started to fall into place when he found an ad for the Berkeley Coding Boot Camp.
“It really piqued my interest. I wanted to pick up where I had left off in high school,” Luis said.
A different experience
The boot camp was the perfect fit for Luis. It allowed him to attend classes at a great college, like he had always wanted to do, without the major time commitment of a four-year course.
“One of the main things was that it was part-time. I had a job and I wanted to really get on my feet,” he said. “But what really convinced me was that it was an extension of UC Berkeley—a good school with a good name.”
Walking in the first day, Luis thought his past experience with coding would put him in a good place to succeed. It did, but he also had a lot to learn.
“The experience I had helped, but of course it had been a while and there were different techniques. When I was coding back in 2006, we used a program called Dreamweaver to write HTML, a really old-school program,” Luis said.
Once he started to understand what was required though, everything started to fall into place.
“There’s a certain mindset to coding,” Luis said. “Technology is constantly changing, so you have to keep a lot in mind, and there’s always a lot to learn.”
One of the most important parts of the boot camp—and Luis’s favorite—was group work.
“I get along with a lot of people, so working in groups was great,” he said. “It was great once we started to get to know each other and talk about code.”
The three group projects took this collaboration to the next level. While the first project was a simple website, it gave Luis the chance to really figure out how to work in a team.
For the next one, Luis and his teammates drew on one of his older passions: video games.
“We built a text-based game where the user would have to add in certain parameters,” he said. “It’s really fun to make a story and have the user be a part of it.”
After using their newfound skills for fun, Luis’s team decided to apply them to a truly worthy cause for the final group project.
“We built a charitable site to connect people who need help during disasters,” Luis said. “It was my favorite, not only because we were helping people, but because we got to use the library React, which I really like.”
Finding your place
By the time he completed the boot camp, Luis was already working full-time. The only problem? The job wasn’t related to web development.
After sprucing up his skills, Luis was determined to land a coding job. He found one in an unlikely place.
“I was looking on Craigslist one day and found a posting for a web content job. I had my well-written resume—thanks to the career coaches and mentors—and applied,” Luis said. He scored an interview the same day.
Using pointers from his career coach to answer each question, Luis left the interview feeling confident—and for good reason. Now, 12 years after his first coding experience, Luis is in a tech position he loves at Lechat Nails, tasked with designing and managing the company’s website.
His biggest takeaway from the boot camp?
“It’s always important to keep practicing,” Luis said. “If you fail, make adjustments and keep going. That applies to more than just coding. It’s about applying for a job and everything else. If you have a dream, never give up.”
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