From Marketing to Coding: How Michael Knowlton Pursued His Dream Career in Software Engineering

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Michael Knowlton first entered the workforce as a marketer. After working for a few different marketing agencies, he became one of the first employees at an exciting, up-and-coming startup. There, he helped the cofounder build a marketing team — and, over the course of five years, was able to watch it grow with the company. 

However, after one project that required him to lead a software engineering team through product development, Michael began to wonder if he wanted a change of pace in his career. 

“At the time, I felt that I had hit the cap for my marketing career and there was nowhere else to really advance,” he explained. “But I wanted to be able to continue growing.” 

Taking a chance

Michael’s main inspiration for enrolling in a technology boot camp was his wife, who’d had her own boot camp experience in software engineering. “After her own positive experience, she highly recommended that I try it out, too,” said Michael. 

To test the waters, Michael tried out a free online computer science course where he learned the basic foundations of tech. Within a couple of weeks, he realized that he enjoyed the field and felt compelled to quit his job. After notifying his company, he fully committed to a complete career change. It was both an exciting and uncertain time, but the possibilities that came with software engineering were more than enough to drive him forward.

A fast-paced learning journey

Eager to kickstart his tech career, Michael enrolled in Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp. It was a full-time program that ran lectures from early morning to afternoon, then had learners collaborate on group assignments for the latter half of the day.

During his first few months, Michael dove into a range of front end and back end programs — from basic HTML and CSS, to more complex languages like JavaScript and jQuery. 

Toward the end of his program, he realized that he’d gained enough knowledge and experience to create a fully functioning full stack app. He appreciated that his learning journey wasn’t just about having textbook coding knowledge. With persistence, determination, and a growth mindset, he was able to host his own projects and build an extensive portfolio that he could present to employers.

A close-knit community

Throughout the boot camp, Michael was surrounded by a great support system that helped him navigate some of the more challenging course materials. “My instructor and classmates were phenomenal,” he shared. “We all still keep in touch on LinkedIn, celebrate new job positions, and share resourceful tools with one another. It’s a wonderful community that I was able to join through the boot camp.”

There were many boot camp projects that provided Michael with the hands-on experience needed to stand out in a highly competitive job market. However, one memorable assignment consisted of building a website that checked trademark phrases through a free API. If a phrase wasn’t taken, the site would then direct the user to a call-to-action where they could begin the application process to create an official trademark.

Project after project, Michael learned how to effectively problem solve and slowly build out processes that led to meaningful solutions. Through constant collaboration with his classmates and instructors, Michael found himself pushing past learning curves and landing exactly where he wanted to be. 

Familiar, but different paths 

Before resigning from his job, Michael had asked his company if he could return as a software engineering intern after completing his boot camp. To his delight, they immediately agreed, as he’d been with them for five years and knew the business extremely well. 

Michael began his internship one day after wrapping up his final courses. He realized that his company used a programming language that he was unfamiliar with — but thanks to his foundational coding skills, learning a new language was engaging and highly rewarding.

“I was extremely grateful that I was able to enter the tech industry with a good foundation,” said Michael. “My experiences equipped me with the tools I needed to learn easily, and I was able to hit the ground running.” 

As he progressed through his internship, Michael wanted to expand his options and sought full-time positions elsewhere. He not only got interviews at two companies, but also received offer letters from both of them. Upon hearing this news, however, his current company provided him with a counteroffer that officially asked him to stay on as a full-time software engineer — and Michael hasn’t looked back since.

For now, he hopes to continue advancing in his career. He sees untapped potential in software engineering, and is excited to see where he goes. His parting advice for prospective boot camp learners is simple and to the point: “If you’re considering a career change, just commit to it and take the leap. You’ll never know what you’ll find.”

Ready to pursue the tech career of your dreams? Check out Georgia Tech Boot Camps today to jump-start your future.

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