“One of the biggest things I learned at boot camp is that anything on a computer is changeable. Everything can be modified, altered, upgraded, amended—the key is figuring out how.”
Chris Freckleton never thought he would seriously pursue a career in computer science. For 15 years, he had been working in financial sales. Although satisfied with these jobs early on, they grew to become more and more intellectually unsatisfying.
“My first few jobs really gave my people and verbal skills a lot of attention—but my mental skills got none,” Chris said. “I really wanted to engage my mind and my brain more at work.”
Surrounded by family and friends in data science, he knew there were related options. Chris reflects fondly on this crossroads.
“The direction I wanted to go was clear—I just didn’t know how to get there,” he said.
After doing some online research, and stumbling across a well-placed internet ad, Chris’s once-shrouded path soon became clear. This epiphany landed him first on the doorstep of the University of Utah Professional Education Coding Boot Camp, and later into a new career.
One of the main reasons Chris pursued coding boot camp was for the program’s part-time option. This enabled him to continue working his current job while attending boot camp classes.
His employers were supportive, even though it must have been apparent to them that his graduation would likely lead Chris away from their company. He recalls being worried about their reaction.
“I wasn’t sure how they would respond when I started going to boot camp,” Chris recalls. “But in the end, my coworkers couldn’t have been more supportive. One of my managers actually went out of her way to forward relevant job postings to me, looked for programming opportunities in-house, and was very flexible when I needed to take time off for interviews.”
His family was also extremely supportive.
“My kids were my anchor,” he said. “They were my base of support all throughout boot camp.”
Armed with 360-degree support, Chris felt empowered to tackle his new challenges.
Part-time boot camp still meant full-time work for Chris. When he wasn’t at his usual job, he was in class, and when he wasn’t in class, he was home studying. The workload kept Chris light on his feet, and the challenges came quickly.
“The first few days, when we were only working on the very basics of HTML and CSS—holy cow, it was so hard,” said Chris.
He chalked up the difficulty to his own need to readjust to the rigorous demands of boot camp. As Chris adapted and began to get into the flow of his new day-to-day, he started to relax.
He soon found himself well integrated with a strong team of fellow classmates. One of their projects was a gift registry that involved back-end databases, front-end UI work, and a lot of long nights in between. Chris appreciated how working in a team environment affected his work.
“It was really cool to see the group project come together,” Chris said. “Everybody brought their own skills to the table and we all did something together none of us could have done alone.”
Chris now has a job at PrenticeWorx, a data-focused CRM platform. While he entertained many job offers, it was his new employer’s commitment to family and life outside the workplace that attracted him to the job.
Chris has been adjusting to his new role and loves being able to solve puzzles and discover solutions all day, finally feeding that section of his brain that before had always felt hungry for challenges.
With his coding classes, Chris has even passed some of his knowledge on to his 16-year-old son. The two sat down one day, and Chris showed his son some of the basics of CSS and HTML that had formed his initial struggles.
“He was interested, and it felt great to be able to show him what I’d been working on,” Chris said. “I let him play around with different variables and I showed him how with the right coding knowledge, he could change anything he wanted to. It was a great moment for us.”
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