Marques Gaston was working as a legal assistant at a law firm in Illinois when he realized that he wanted to make a change in his career. Having been interested in coding since his senior year in college, he had been working diligently to teach himself the basics before recognizing that he had to take the next step and enroll in the Northwestern Coding Boot Camp, powered by Trilogy Education.
“Being accepted in this program was the first official step towards a career I felt truly passionate about,” said Marques.
Check out our conversation with him below about getting into the boot camp, securing a loan, progressing in his career, and making a plan to follow your passions.
What made coding the right career change for you?
MG: After college, I did not want to commit to law school immediately (and take on all the debt) without any experience in a law firm. So I accepted a job at a law firm in Hinsdale, Illinois. While I was testing the waters at the law firm during the day, I would come home to practice my coding in the evening. With the experience I was gaining from independent study and the additional research that I did on my own, being accepted in this program was the first official step towards a career I felt truly passionate about.
What made you decide on the boot camp program?
MG: To be honest with you, my parents convinced me to obtain a boot camp certificate. I was under the impression that one does not technically need to spend thousands of dollars to obtain a certificate in computer programming. They convinced me that having a certificate provided by an organization would look significantly better to an employer. Coming from a completely non-technical background with very little experience obtained from my individual studies, the additional resources NU provided as well as the rigorous curriculum pushed me to success.
How did you make the decision to take out a loan for the program and what was that process like?
MG: I knew at the very beginning that I was going to apply for a loan. I was paying for the program myself so I wanted to take out a loan so that I could focus my efforts on the course and not worry about any additional financial burdens. I was approved quickly and the process was easy.
Do you have any advice for other boot camp students that want to enroll but are apprehensive about taking out loans?
MG: I would say if you are passionate about learning how to code and you want to learn from a great program, take the leap and take out the loan.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in the program and beyond?
MG: My biggest obstacle was balancing my work/life. I had an hour commute to work, and NU was about an hour from Hinsdale. As dedicated as I was and aspiring to do well in the class, after a while I realized that my commute every Monday and Wednesday took a lot of time away from me. It wasn’t convenient at all, but because I was eager to continue to learn and build a new application, I always found the will to continue with the additional support of my family and girlfriend. I worked full time and studied for about 25-30 hours a week. There were a lot of late nights and missed lunches, and I was essentially a hermit for those six months, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
What have you been doing since completing the program? How have you used your new boot camp skills?
MG: Since the program, I have been working as an associate consultant at a consulting firm called Dickinson + Associates as an SAP cloud applications UI/UX developer. I was fortunate enough to have been offered a job before the program was finished. I have used the majority of the skills that I learned from the program, and I have also learned a few new skills.
Do you have any advice for current or potential boot camp students?
MG: If this is what you want to do, then make a plan and go for it! However, be prepared to commit yourself to a rigorous yet rewarding program. Do not keep your questions to yourself because you think it may be a stupid question. Always try to find the answer on your own because research is a big component of computer programming. However, if you can’t find the answer, don’t be shy; simply ask your classmates, teacher, teaching assistants, or tutor. Don’t be afraid to take out loans if you need to. It might make all the difference!
Are you ready to take the next step in a new career? Explore Trilogy-powered boot camps in coding, UX/UI, data analytics, and cybersecurity and take the first step toward your future.