“Learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Learning doesn’t occupy a finite space in time, and it isn’t just a four-year, pre-career commitment — at least, not for Andy Durette.
If you want to be successful in work or in life, you need a genuine passion for the process — rather than the product — of learning. Andy understands that better than most. Put into practice, this attitude helped him achieve top marks in UofT SCS Coding Boot Camp — and land his dream job in technology.
Evolving his skill set
Navigating foreign terrain and developing new skills were the biggest challenges Andy faced during his time in the boot camp, but they were also the reasons he decided to join the program in the first place. “Having an opportunity to master key back end technologies was the most thrilling part — even if it was the hardest,” he said.
After studying art and digital media in college, Andy had been relatively happy with where he was — but felt limited in his career growth. “I just felt like I was hitting a plateau with front end development,” he shared.
Andy’s undergraduate degree afforded him the fundamentals of design and coding that are at the core of front end web development. However, he was stymied by the lack of big picture creative control associated with most front end dev roles. He knew full stack development would give him the fulfillment he was seeking but had trouble mastering the software while working a full-time job.
Jumping right in
Andy never does anything halfway. So, in late 2019, he left his job to focus his energy on the coding boot camp full time. It was a no-brainer. “I wanted to throw all my effort into learning, to invest in my future,” he explained. “I just put myself into it.”
At the time, Andy wondered: Without hands-on technical knowledge, how do you get a job that requires a significant amount of experience? Today, he no longer has to ask. “School was the answer for me.”
Having already completed an undergraduate program, Andy didn’t want to spend four more years on another degree. The coding boot camp offered the perfect alternative — an affordable option for gaining the skills he needed to advance his career in a short period of time. It didn’t hurt that University of Toronto SCS was right around the corner, either.
Welcome to class
Hands-on projects and in-person training set the stage for mastering a full suite of back end skills at warp speed. The ability to immerse himself in coursework alongside diverse classmates offered Andy the environment he needed to develop the right skill set.
One of Andy’s program highlights was developing a real product from start to finish. For this project, he created an application called “Is My Neighborhood Safe” to share critical district crime data with members of the surrounding community. “That was a fun project and really let me put some of the tools I had been learning to practical use,” he said. Andy enjoyed having full control over the app’s development and even placed the final product in his portfolio to help in his job search (which was aided by the boot camp’s career services office).
Looking back, Andy certainly benefited from the boot camp’s collaborative nature. In his previous position, a lot of work had been siloed. “I was never really a part of the whole project,” he reflected. One of the central reasons Andy wanted to learn more about back end development tools was to “see how the whole team operates.”
And at the boot camp, he was able to do exactly that.
The boot camp mindset
Since completing the boot camp, Andy has accepted a new position as a full stack developer and couldn’t be happier. Not only does his current role allow him to implement lessons learned in the boot camp — it also gives him an opportunity to “take new skills and really run with them,” he said. When asked where he wants to be in five years, Andy said, “I just want to keep developing. This is what I like to do.”
Drawing from his own experience, Andy advises boot camp applicants to make sure they have the right mindset going in. “It sounds cliche, but you get out what you put into it,” he said. “I didn’t want to just show up — I wanted to succeed. I wanted an A+.” Without a doubt, Andy outshined the lofty goals he set for himself. In fact, his coursework was so impressive that an instructor even offered him an assistant instructor position upon program completion (which he gladly accepted). “As much as I love learning, I also love teaching,” commented Andy.
Andy’s industrial spirit and unyielding commitment to personal growth make him someone who will succeed wherever he goes, but it’s clear that the coding boot camp contributed to his career in a big way. “There’s no question, the boot camp has definitely changed my life.”
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