Working in Las Vegas’ fast-paced hospitality industry teaches you a thing or two about pressure. Joshua Bohde mastered it exceptionally well, but he still felt unfulfilled. So, after seven years, he packed his bags and headed home to the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. The only problem? He found himself back in the same industry, settling into hotel and restaurant management and eventually, wine sales.
“I felt like I was jumping to different branches of the same tree, and I just wanted to find a new tree to climb,” Joshua said.
That new tree turned out to be a web—or rather, the web—and it wasn’t long before he was enrolled in The Coding Boot Camp At UNC-Chapel Hill.
All fears aside
When considering his new career path, Joshua thought about his interests, and one thing kept coming up. “Computers had always fascinated me,” he said. “I always wished I knew how the website or app I was using was built.”
Joshua’s friend had made a similar career change from hospitality to web development and spoke so highly of this move that it made Joshua’s decision easy, and he decided to jump into the boot camp.
But as most people know, change isn’t always easy. Joshua was about to uproot his whole life. The fear of failure that most boot camp students feel was almost enough for him to put his foot on the brakes.
“Once I made the decision to tie learning new stuff to my livelihood and career path, the fear of it became less important,” Joshua said. “I was more focused on changing my career than afraid of feeling inadequate.”
That’s when he held his breath and jumped in with both feet. Always approaching life with optimism, dedication, and enthusiasm, Joshua had no expectations. But his instructor, Randy Mellow, did.
“The day to day of the boot camp was intense,” he said. “Randy had high expectations and made sure we rose to the challenge of learning the material because it comes at you in a very rapid fashion.”
Fortunately, Joshua’s past career experience with high-pressure situations and time management played to his favor throughout the course, and it wasn’t long before he started using his skills. Along the way, he also became adept at decision-making, problem-solving, and creative thinking, each of which was crucial to the boot camp projects.
Putting skills to work
As time progressed, Joshua found himself working with two like-minded coding enthusiasts (now friends), Alberto Vargas and David Coulombe, in the development of a nutrition application called A Better You. Alberto is from the Dominican Republic and passionate about this area of study.
“In the states, we take for granted that our foods contain nutritional breakdowns on the packaging,” Joshua said. “It’s not like that in other countries and this app provides a solution.”
A Better You tracks nutrition and dietary restrictions by working with your doctor or dietitian. It delivers recipes with nutritional information based on specific parameters. While Alberto drove much of the content and data development for the build, Joshua and his teammate David handled most of the app’s functionality. His favorite part of the process was logging late hours and handling last-minute tweaks as deadlines approached—time and sweat that were evident in the finished product presented by the group. The development was so successful, they are using it as a prototype toward launching a mobile application.
But the best thing about the project, he said, was being able to work in that team setting—sharing these valuable learning experiences and fostering lifelong friendships and camaraderie.
Getting paid and paying it forward
For Joshua, the leap of faith was worth it. He scored a job shortly after graduating boot camp and is now doing what he loves as a junior web developer for Aperian Global—a company where he’s happy to say he has take-your-pet-to-work Fridays!
“The boot camp taught me to code, but career services helped prepare me for the interview process, which helped me get a job quickly,” he said.
Not only do boot campers participate in experiential learning opportunities, but they also get access to new employment possibilities with career-planning assistance, including portfolio reviews, mock interviews, soft-skills training, career coaching, and more. Joshua said he owes much of his career success to his student success manager, Lisa Shemancik, for her communicative, structured support, and the entire career services team who provided guidance with his cover letter and resume, and a wealth of resources.
“You’re going to have a lot of good information, resources, teachers, and tools at your fingertips, but unless you’re willing to commit to using them, you’re not going to see results,” Joshua said.
Advice like this is shared regularly by Joshua these days, as he serves as a TA for the boot camp program. Not only does he simply enjoy giving back, but he takes joy in watching students go through the experiences he so fondly remembers. His favorite moments now are being able to connect with students because he’s been in their shoes.
“Having those moments where you’re helping people realize their dream or watching as that light bulb just turns on—that’s just awesome,” Joshua said.
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