New Skills, Same Career: Why Noe Leiva is an Advocate for Upskilling Yourself

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Regardless of the amount of education or experience you have in a given field, there are always new opportunities to learn more and enhance your current skills.

Noe Leiva is an accomplished IT professional with a master’s degree and more than 15 years of experience working in technology. He also has plenty of front end and back end experience, but in a field as ever-changing as technology, he wanted to build the most current skill set to keep up with the times.

Noe started researching technology boot camps and came across a few that piqued his interest, eventually selecting Vanderbilt University Boot Camps

“After I got exposure to the front and back end of development, my interest with this whole tech world exploded,” said Noe. “The boot camp was pretty much a way for me to just put all of my skills together and round out anything that was missing.”

Making the most of virtual learning 

Noe enrolled in the Vanderbilt University Coding Boot Camp in the spring of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up. As a result, the program was conducted entirely online — but this was familiar territory for Noe, since his master’s degree was completed virtually. 

“The instructor and the TAs were very responsive and always willing to jump on a call to get you through any difficult issues,” said Noe. “And having the ability to communicate with your classmates over Slack and set up calls with them made it similar to having a live session.”

Students were also encouraged to collaborate with each other for various group projects that exhibited their skills. The initial projects focused on JavaScript and got more complex as the boot camp progressed. 

“Inspired by our own experiences, we built an application to help development teams work together on virtual projects,” said Noe. “Users are able to share notes with other team members, define the programming languages they’ll be using, and chat with other team members in the app.”

They also included a persistent security authentication feature, which requires users to continuously be authenticated in order to have access to important documents. 

“It was a great project and it pretty much set me up for success at my current job and for some of the jobs I have coming up,” said Noe. 

Becoming a better developer one lesson at a time 

Noe’s prior experience was useful during the boot camp, but he did find a few concepts hard to comprehend. 

“We were encouraged to learn some things outside of class, like authentication and persistent login, which were the most difficult concepts for me to grasp because we weren’t being taught them in class,” said Noe. “That’s the main thing about the boot camp. It gave us fresh perspectives on what we can learn and what we can take upon ourselves.”

Noe’s biggest challenge was figuring out how to balance his personal life, the boot camp, and his job. He quickly learned that in order to make the most of his time, it was important for him to move on from problems he was stuck on (rather than dwelling on them). He suggests future boot camp students do the same.

“If you’re having trouble with a specific language or concept, sometimes it’s best to take a step back to refresh your mind, maybe go for a walk, and then come back and try to attack that problem later,” said Noe. 

Focusing on the value of your experiences

As someone who came into the course with more experience than the average boot camp student, Noe still found it incredibly valuable. 

“The boot camp gave me a good sense of direction regarding where technology is going,” said Noe. “I was exposed to different tools like Slack, GitHub, and different languages that are utilized at other companies.”

Noe began working for Acrometis, a company that automates processing solutions for workers compensation and liability insurance claims, shortly after the boot camp ended. This job allows him to put into practice everything he learned as a full stack developer in the boot camp. 

The boot camp helped give Noe a better idea of his future as he continues his career trajectory, and he believes it’s a great step for people at any stage of their career.

“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but it’s all worth it in the end,” said Noe. “Even if you start out as a junior developer or entry-level developer, boot camp provides a great opportunity to see where the technology is going and progressing.” 

Interested in exploring a career in web development? Check out Vanderbilt University Boot Camps in coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, and digital marketing. 

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