From Civil Engineering to Software Engineering: How Bill Hall Changed Careers Through the Coding Boot Camp

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Bill Hall always excelled at math and science — so when it came time to choose a career, civil engineering felt like a natural fit. But after two decades spent working in the industry, he realized where his true passion lay: web development.

Programming offered a sense of freedom that Bill had been craving in his professional life. “There’s a creative part of me that enjoys outlets like photography and music,” he explained. “I like building something out of nothing, and coding lets me do that.” 

While he’d tried teaching himself programming languages in the past, Bill knew he needed a more structured educational environment to succeed. As an intensive course in full stack web development, University of Arizona Coding Boot Camp was ideal. “I like the discipline of going to class and having assignments,” Bill said. “The boot camp provided a chance for me to do something I’d wanted to accomplish for quite a while.”

Read on to learn four of Bill’s biggest takeaways from the boot camp — and how they helped him lay the foundation for a new professional future. 

1. Mindset matters

In the boot camp, Bill found himself surrounded by many fellow career changers. These people all approached problems differently depending on their distinct backgrounds. And while his civil engineering experience did give him a unique perspective on projects, Bill quickly discovered that coding would also require him to adjust his thought process. A growth mindset, rather than a fixed one, was critical to his success. “The boot camp taught me how to approach problems and think like a computer,” Bill said. “Once I figured that out, everything made a lot more sense.

2. Persistence pays off

The program’s rigorous, real-world curriculum came with many rewards — and challenges. Instead of struggling through difficult problems alone, Bill regularly leaned on his boot camp community for support. “I asked my teaching assistants for guidance a lot and found online resources to help me solve problems,” he said. Most importantly, Bill constantly reminded himself: There’s no problem out there that someone hasn’t faced — and overcome — before.

3. Pick up on patterns

Over the course of the boot camp, Bill’s habits evolved for the better. “In the beginning, my tendency was to force myself to work through tough problems even when I was stuck,” he recalled. “But when I did that, I made mistakes more often. I learned that sometimes, things make more sense when you return to them later on.” Patterns in his own tendencies weren’t the only thing he began to notice. Throughout the program, Bill also paid attention to similarities between coding languages — proactively preparing himself for a versatile future in programming. “The boot camp has a strong focus on JavaScript, which is really useful to learn since a lot of other languages follow the same pattern,” he explained.

4. Don’t let the learning end

As his final project, Bill built a real estate app that helps users find new properties, contact landlords, and access resources for navigating common rental challenges. Though the boot camp ended in January 2020, he has continued working on the app — alongside other passion projects — as a way of enhancing his portfolio. To gain additional programming experience, he also recently accepted an apprenticeship role with Tech One IT and is eager to continue learning on the job.

Looking back, Bill is overwhelmed with gratitude for the boot camp and all its lessons. “I feel a lot better about this career trajectory than I did about civil engineering,” he said. “The programming field is constantly growing and evolving. Civil engineering matched my skill set, but it wasn’t my passion.” Coding, he’s happy to report, checks both boxes. 

Looking for a career change? Explore programs in coding, data analytics, and UX/UI through University of Arizona Boot Camps.

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