Two years into his undergraduate accounting program, Alvin Ng took a computer science elective. Little did he know he was about to find his true passion.
“It was immediately interesting to me,” he said, “but I was already set on my path to accounting, and I knew it would take five years total — I didn’t want to waste any time. So I set computer science aside, making the decision to treat it as just a hobby.”
This strategy didn’t last long. Increasingly unfulfilled by accounting, Alvin decided to finally follow his interest when he transferred to UCLA a year later. With the last quarter of his college career still ahead of him, he enrolled in The Coding Boot Camp at UCLA Extension and dedicated his time to gaining a coding Award of Completion alongside his degree.
Tackling his fears and rising to the top
Enrolling in the boot camp took courage, but Alvin immediately knew he’d made the right decision.
“There is a satisfying feeling I get when I’m coding,” he said. “It felt good to get that feeling back. It wasn’t something I was getting from accounting.”
From day one, the program opened Alvin’s eyes to a new way of learning. In place of the information overload he’d get from unstructured Google searches, he was learning the steps in a systematic way, helping the topics to click. With the help of his instructors, he was able to grapple with new material hands-on, working through problems and breaking down code barriers piece by piece.
“It was intimidating at first,” said Alvin. “I was the youngest in the class, still being in college, but it was great to have such knowledgeable instructors and a group of people with the same interests as me. We became close quite quickly.”
The TAs stood out to Alvin as well. Even though the class was relatively small — about 16 students — everyone was at different experience levels and working through the material at different paces. The TAs were available before and after class every day to help bridge any gaps. “The TAs didn’t just help those who were behind to catch up,” said Alvin, “They also helped those who were ahead like me to go beyond the prescribed curriculum.”
After mentioning to his instructor and TAs that he was interested in data engineering, Alvin was given extra material and support to explore data science and Amazon Web Services (AWS) — something that would form the foundation of his biggest work project just a few months later.
Landing a new role and making his mark
As Alvin began preparing for his job search and the technical interviews that would accompany it, he utilized the boot camp’s career services to do training and practice sessions. The hard work paid off. In his interview with Frequency Networks, Inc. — a cloud-based, B2B software platform designed for linear channel and program streaming that he discovered through the UCLA alumni network — he was asked to complete many of the algorithms he’d already practiced.
Though the role he originally accepted was Account Manager, Alvin quickly demonstrated the merit of his coding skills — helping speed up technological processes and elevate the tech company’s platform product. In only a few months, he was reassigned his current title: Junior Quality Assurance Engineer.
At the end of the day, Alvin doesn’t regret leaving accounting for a second. He’s grateful that he can wake up and work on projects that he loves, rather than feeling stuck in a less interesting — and fulfilling — career path.
“I’ve learned a ton about the AWS suite,” said Alvin. “I’ve collected and extracted a lot of important and meaningful data from clients’ logs so far, and I’m really proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish in these past six months. It feels amazing.”
How will a boot camp open your eyes? Explore UCLA Extension Boot Camps to find out.