Since high school, Demetri Dillard had always wanted to work as a computer programmer. During college, he took a programming class, but ended up finding his way into information technology.
“I wasn’t really set on it at the time, and I went into IT instead,” said Demetri. “Later on, we had a semester where we took a course that touched on programming and that reignited my interest.” This experience led him to start looking into different bootcamps — and when he heard about one offered at the University of Minnesota, he just had to take the plunge.
Along the way to turning this dream into a reality, Demetri met Kristina Hamilton, Esmond Kim, Benjamin Flynn, and Nathan Larson at University of Minnesota Coding Boot Camp. The group quickly became close study partners, helping each other study for tests and collaborating on coding projects.
Finding the drive to make something
For their third and final project together, the team needed to develop something which integrated the bulk of the coding skills they had learned throughout their experience at the bootcamp.
The team originally decided upon a scheduler for car washes, where the user would be able to know at a glance how busy a car wash was before taking their vehicle there — but they quickly pivoted. “It’s not that it was more difficult, it was just that with the time we had, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Demetri said. “So instead we thought, we already have this pretty robust calendar, so let’s use it for something more feasible.”
Some of the individuals in the group were fans of golfing, which set the stage for their pivot. The team decided to develop a scheduling application for employees at driving ranges to properly handle scheduling for golfers. The result of their combined efforts was the Tee-Time Scheduler for the Bushwood Country Club — the (fictional) club from the cult classic comedy Caddyshack.
Joining the club
The application is simple: the user logs in and, based on the customer’s scheduling needs, they can schedule a tee time for the customer anywhere between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. “We thought, if you could have a central place where you could look at all your clients’ times and be able to schedule them out based on that, this program would be an easy way to do so,” said Demetri.
As someone entering the bootcamp without true programming experience, Demetri found himself facing many challenges — especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “At first it was difficult, and not being able to physically interact with your instructors was tricky, but I think we got a really good instructor who was really knowledgeable,” he said.
Scoring a hole-in-one with the project
When Demo Day arrived and it came time to present the fruits of their labor, the Golf Tee-Time Scheduler team managed to pull it off without a hitch. “It went so well. Everybody liked the design of the page and all the functionality of the application,” he said. “There were some initial hiccups, but once we got those settled, it was pretty much all hands on deck and it just kind of came together.”
For Demetri, the secret to successfully balancing the project development cycle with homework and other life responsibilities was simple: lean on your fellow classmates. “My group did a weekly study session every Sunday. Once we did that, we realized the benefits. I also befriended a few classmates, and we just became study buddies on a Discord server, grinding it out at various hours of the night,” he said.
As for advice for others looking to join the bootcamp program and get their feet wet with technical projects, Demetri reiterates how integral community is to individual success. “If you have someone to keep you company and support you while you’re doing it, it’s really beneficial,” he said.
Want to kickstart the journey to your technical career? Get involved with University of Minnesota Boot Camps in coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, UX/UI, fintech, and digital marketing.