Wes Braga Took Advantage of Every Boot Camp Resource Available—and It Paid off

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Wes Braga has been a musician for much of his life: touring as a hired musician, teaching a variety of instruments, and now performing with his rock band Echo Pilot. For a large part of the past few years he’s been on the road—away from his family. “I realized I didn’t want that life anymore,” Wes said. “I didn’t want to keep moving around, and I wanted to have more time with my wife.” While music has played a central role for Wes, he’s also held a lifelong interest in technology. He has often found himself reading article after article about web developers, the tech job market, and people being placed in jobs straight out of coding boot camps. 

Wes took the self-taught route for a couple of months, using a number of online resources to teach himself CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. But he craved a structured curriculum and the opportunity to experience peer-to-peer work. He enrolled in the Vanderbilt University Coding Boot Camp, powered by Trilogy Education—and didn’t look back. 

Capitalizing on all that his program had to offer

The biggest problem Wes had at the outset was juggling his new marriage and part-time work while adjusting to boot camp. “It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done in my entire life,” he said. “Keeping up with so many libraries and so much content was difficult, and making sure I was really digesting that content was even more so.” Wes put in about 30 hours a week on top of class, and he also turned to online resources to help him get through the material. 

“I established really good relationships with my peers, classmates, teachers, and TAs,” said Wes. “The TAs especially were able to relate to the struggles of a new developer—just trying to learn everything and get their foot in the door.”

The entire Trilogy staff became a resource Wes could rely on for support. He worked closely with career coaches to perfect his resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile—and had all these materials set after only two weeks in the boot camp. Wes attended regular one-on-ones with his career director, sifting through applications and practicing interviews. 

Building relevant and exciting products

Wes’s work with his career director and the job search process are what inspired his first personal project at boot camp. His app was a job-searching tool called JobScrape that collected, consolidated, and listed all the developer job listings in the user’s area from sites like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor—ignoring the ads and grabbing only the company name, developer position, and other essential information. The user could then visit the same page to apply to whichever jobs they were interested in. Wes used JobScrape to apply to jobs throughout his time at boot camp—and some of his classmates did too.

Wes’s other projects related to his own life experiences and interests. His capstone project was an application called Orchestrate. He worked with groupmates Zach Matthews, Josh Stevens, and Luke Duran to create a band-managing app. Band managers—or members—can schedule events, track concert dates, and store venue information. For those managing multiple bands, there are separate tabs for different artists. “I really want to present this to my band,” said Wes. “Optimizing it for mobile use is definitely on my to-do list for the future.”

Taking stock of how far he’s come

Wes’s diligent job search prep ultimately paid off. In fact, he found his current job through his own JobScrape tool. He is now an application developer at XSOLIS, a software service company that deals with artificial intelligence to improve hospital utilization systems. 

“Pretty much all of the skills I use daily I learned at boot camp,” said Wes. “Working in the field as a full-stack developer, I get to wear a lot of hats. I’m not just doing the front end—I get to do a ton of different things, and I love it. Every day I wake up and I’m excited.”

When asked what advice he’d give to someone considering enrolling in a boot camp, Wes insisted on the importance of persistence and a hunger to learn. He also stressed not getting discouraged when you run into roadblocks, because you’re just going to hit another. “Enjoy the moment of learning, and especially enjoy the struggle,” said Wes. “That’s what makes a great developer—someone who can learn fast and enjoy the process.”

Find a program that challenges you—explore boot camps in data visualization and analytics, coding, UX/UI design, and cybersecurity.

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