When Sheldon Mall lost his job in October of 2019, he could never have imagined what the next few months would have in store — and neither could the rest of the world.
“I was actively interviewing for a new role, and had several opportunities coming my way,” Sheldon said. “But the companies I was talking to were hesitant to officially make offers, because they wanted to see what would come of COVID.”
Sheldon knew the pandemic wouldn’t be over anytime soon, and that he needed to come up with a new plan for finding employment. With a background in tech, he decided it was time to upgrade his technical skills and enroll in UofT SCS Coding Boot Camp.
Following his passion for coding
Coding had always been on Sheldon’s mind. He knew he wanted to land a tech role with great job security, and that the coding boot camp was his best bet for achieving that goal. “I found the content of the program to be extremely relevant,” he said. “It looked like a great opportunity to adapt myself to industry standards.”
Sheldon knew that e-commerce was becoming more popular, and that the world was transitioning to online shopping as the pandemic continued. He had always been fascinated with the behind-the-scenes work of shopping online, and how it works from the moment a person places an order to when it ships. He wanted to better understand the logistics behind this process, and knew that strengthening his coding skills could help him get there.
Back to (virtual) school
Sheldon wasn’t resistant to the idea of online learning, since he had managed remote teams in the past and was used to working in a virtual environment. At the same time, he knew that learning remotely is a different experience from working remotely.
“Looking into the screen the whole time during class and listening to your instructor can be a difficult skill to master, if you’re not used to it,” Sheldon said. “Two years later, we’re all used to it. But at that point, we weren’t.”
Sheldon made sure to take advantage of all the resources the boot camp offered, including attending his instructor’s office hours. “There was one point where my instructor knew he could count on me to show up,” Sheldon shared.
Sheldon spent eight to 10 hours each day online, whether he was actively in class learning the course material or working on homework and projects in his spare time. He knew that in order to get the most out of this experience, he had to put in the work, which also meant reaching out to his classmates on a regular basis.
“Everyone was new. I didn’t know anyone, and no one knew me,” he said. “So I started interacting with my classmates, from asking them questions to offering my help when they were stuck.”
The boot camp’s curriculum allowed for a highly collaborative learning experience, and Sheldon took full advantage by participating in group projects and coming together with classmates to solve complex problems. He knew that some of his classmates were already working in web development, so he intentionally worked to build connections with them.
“There were so many learners from different work backgrounds, and we were all doing the same thing: trying to jump into or move up in the tech industry,” Sheldon said. “I wanted to learn from them, too.” By the end of the boot camp, Sheldon had interacted with each classmate in one way or another.
Open to a new role
Toward the end of the boot camp, Sheldon knew his experience would soon be over, so he started looking for job opportunities in the industry. He wanted a role that would expose him to the various technologies he had learned over the course of the program, and would also provide opportunities for advancement.
He worked with Career Services to strengthen his resume, update his LinkedIn profile, and prepare for interviews. “They were very reassuring, and their help was really valuable to my cause,” he shared.
A year after losing his job and gaining an entirely new skill set from the coding boot camp, Sheldon landed a role with the software company OpenText as a technical support manager. Today, he leads a team of support specialists to deliver premier application support to customers across the globe.
“The company needed someone who understood how APIs work, and was looking for a candidate with that skill set,” Sheldon said. “I picked up those technical skills at just the right time.”
Looking back at his boot camp experience, Sheldon is happy that he followed his passion and landed a new role in the process. He hopes to continue strengthening his coding skills and advancing in his career and the tech industry.
“Every good thing takes time and a lot of effort,” Sheldon said. “But in the end, it will all be worth it.”
Interested in kickstarting a new career in coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, UX/UI, fintech, or digital marketing? Check out UofT SCS Boot Camps today.