Like many young adults, Ernesto Rodriguez went to college because it was the expected next step after high school. Since he’d always been interested in technology, software development and cybersecurity seemed like logical subjects to study. But even while pursuing these topics, something didn’t feel right. Ernesto thought back on advice he received from tech professionals, who had suggested alternatives to a traditional college route.
“The feedback I got from industry leaders was that a lot of them had to go through technology boot camps to get a job because computer science is so broad. They didn’t have specific knowledge of a technology,” he said. “I woke up one day and thought, ‘I need to leave this.’”
Convinced there was a more efficient way to reach his goals, Ernesto dropped out of college in search of real-world coding experience. He didn’t have much luck the first month — but just when he was becoming discouraged, he came across an advertisement for University of Miami Coding Boot Camp. Everything clicked.
Finding family at the boot camp
Upon entering the program, Ernesto was no stranger to coding, having participated in his first boot camp as a sophomore in high school. Still, he was nervous on the first day of class — especially as one of the youngest learners there.
His instructors, however, soon helped him realize there was nothing to worry about. “They made the class very welcoming. It felt like family, truly,” said Ernesto. “They said, ‘It’s going to be hard, but we’re going to help you go through this.’ That was a huge relief.”
As the course progressed, Ernesto cherished collaborating with his peers on class projects. Together, they brainstormed ideas, solved the problems posed by instructors, and refined their presentations to pitch completed work to the class.
“It made me grow as a person and become more independent,” Ernesto reflected. “The package they have at the program is so good that it transformed how I think and do everything, pretty much.”
Forging his own path
When COVID-19 hit toward the end of Ernesto’s program, he and his classmates had to quickly adapt to a new, remote environment. Instead of seeing each other three times a week in class, they now communicated through a screen.
“Since it was the first time I had done classes online, it was a bit difficult to get used to,” he said, “but the team made it work and it was amazing.”
Ernesto also began his job search during this time period. Encouraged by his instructor, he started networking furiously. The first item on his agenda? Thanking the industry leaders who had attended the boot camp’s Demo Day (an opportunity for students to present projects to tech professionals, hosted by Trilogy Education Services, a 2U Inc. brand). Today, he’s still in contact with one of them.
His job hunt came to an end a few months later, when he landed a web development position in WebMD’s Medscape division. Now, after finding a role that lets him practice his passion, Ernesto hopes his experience can motivate others.
“So many people tried to put me down when I said I was dropping out of college,” said Ernesto. “In that period of time, I was so lost — and I feel like so many people are going to be lost in that period, as well. If my story can motivate someone, that would be great.”
Looking back, Ernesto has one last piece of advice to offer: “If I had to tell my old self something, it would be to follow your intuition and what really drives you.”
If you’re ready to follow your intuition and launch a career in tech, learn more about University of Miami Boot Camps in coding and data analytics.