TJ Leis found a rewarding career as a REACT front end developer thanks to the skills he learned at Penn LPS Coding Boot Camp. The career benefits were immediately clear — but he wasn’t expecting his new coding skills to help him bond with his young children. But, that’s exactly what ended up happening.
Here’s how TJ’s family ended up playing a role in all facets of his journey through the boot camp, from pre-enrollment to his life after completing the program.
Staying one step ahead
For many years prior to enrolling in the boot camp in 2018, TJ worked in real estate as a project manager. He had graduated with a business degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2004 and no doubt was on a promising career path, but he lacked fulfillment. In his spare time, TJ started coding and indulged his new interest by learning to code from apps on his iPhone.
“I got into coding as a hobby, with the simple goal of trying to learn a new skill,” TJ said. Coding would have likely remained a hobby if he didn’t mention his new interest to his wife in passing one day.
“Unbeknownst to me, my wife actually researched and found Penn LPS Coding Boot Camp,” TJ said. One day, he was surprised by a phone call from one of the boot camp’s reps. Immediately after that 20-minute phone call, TJ was ready to enroll. “I’m spontaneous in that way,” he explained.
He’s the first to acknowledge the fact that his dreams of a career change wouldn’t have come to fruition without his wife’s support and initiative. “I owe everything to her,” he said.
Walking the walk
TJ had a lot on his plate when he began the boot camp. In addition to his full-time job, he and his wife had two young children, ages four and seven. On top of that, the program demanded rigorous focus and a large time commitment.
During a typical day, TJ would leave his office job at six p.m., pack a sandwich to eat on the drive over to class, then sit in class for four hours before getting home at 11 p.m. He recalls spending Sundays locked in his bedroom trying to learn everything. All in all, TJ estimates he spent 30+ hours a week on assignments, exercises, and studying for the boot camp.
“I had to remind myself that six months isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things. I just knocked the work out,” TJ said, crediting his wife for taking on the bulk of the childcare during that time. “The kids were really young and it was challenging,” TJ said,” and she didn’t really have much help from me.”
Although managing work, the boot camp, and family was tough, TJ felt compelled to get through it, in part, to serve as a good example for his kids.
“You can’t really grow unless you put yourself in uncomfortable situations,” he said. “But I loved challenging myself. I’m always telling my kids to challenge themselves, so I gotta bring it too.”
Tightening family bonds
With the skills he picked up at the boot camp, TJ is able to both support and spend more time with his family amid the COVID-19 pandemic while working as a front end web developer
“I can work from home now — something I wouldn’t have been able to do in my old job,” TJ said.
In addition to being able to spend more time with his family, TJ uses the skills he picked up at the boot camp to bond with his kids by designing games they can play together.
“We’re a big basketball family. I played basketball in college and we love the NBA. My kids love it, especially my older son who’s really into it,” TJ said. “So I made an app consisting of basketball cards of his favorite players. It’s kind of like the board game Memory, where you click on one card, see the picture, and try to find the match. It’s neat to see him play a game I built, and share that extra time together.”
Ready to start your own journey and see what unique benefits you might discover? Check out Penn Boot Camps in Coding, Cybersecurity, Data, and FinTech.