anthony elfering code platoon

Anthony Elfering, Alumni of the Month, January 2020

anthony elfering software developerIn early 2018, Anthony was looking for a change. He wanted to try his hand at coding, and was intrigued by the emerging bootcamp model, but wanted to use his GI Bill to help with his tuition and living expenses. Fortuitously, Code Platoon had recently been approved by the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, and applications were open for the next class. Anthony took the chance, completed the application, and was enrolled into Golf Platoon in the Fall of 2018.

Prior to Code Platoon, Anthony had earned his B.A in English from the University of Minnesota. After graduating, he enlisted in the Army. Anthony grew up an Army brat, moving every few years all around the world, and he wanted to have more opportunities for adventure and travel. He spent several years at the NSA as a cryptologic linguist, doing a combination of translation and intelligence analysis in Arabic.  

After five years in the Army, he was ready for something new. Anthony spent almost two years traveling, both domestically and abroad, all the while becoming increasingly interested in building cool things, both physically and digitally. Enter Code Platoon. 

As part of Golf platoon, Anthony learned the skills to become a software development professional. He especially enjoyed being in a classroom with fellow veterans, where they could support and learn from each other day in and day out. Anthony graduated in December of 2018, secured an internship at Chicago Trading Company (CTC) through the Code Platoon internship program, and recently celebrated his 1 year anniversary as a full-time employee at CTC.

Anthony says, “In many ways, working at CTC has felt like a natural progression for me following Code Platoon. Both organizations strike that balance between intense, demanding work and top-tier mentorship. It’s been super challenging, but a ton of fun, too. It’s a pretty incredible thing to be surrounded by awesome people invested in your success, and for that I’m deeply grateful.”

Anthony will also be sharing his technical skills as an instructor in the new Code Platoon part-time program. We are looking forward to having him help future Code Platoon students find their passion for software development! 

Join us in congratulating Anthony as our January 2020 alumni of the month!

Anthony in his own words

I was a crypto logic linguist in the army. I was an Arabic linguist. I would translate, you know, Arabic communications and kind of analyze them for any kind of intelligence value.

I was looking for a coding bootcamp that also accepted the GI bill. So it seemed like if I could find that in Chicago, that’d be really great. Code Platoon was really just kind of like a happy coincidence. I was actually in the first cohort that accepted the GI bill so the timing was just like … if it were any earlier, it wouldn’t have worked. If it were later, it wouldn’t have worked. It just … it was pretty much perfect.

One of the things that I liked the most about Code Platoon was being in a classroom full of veterans. There were so many like long days where I’ll just coding from like sun up to sun down and I just don’t know how sustainable that is if you’re doing it in like in a vacuum. But having colleagues who became friends, like in that same environment, you know, embracing the suck together, like that really makes it not just variable but fun, and I think that I really appreciated that.

The apprenticeship program, for sure, was like the best value add that that Code Platoon had, where I just felt like so many of those barriers to entry are smoothed out by the apprenticeship program and it’s been … I think that was a great experience and obviously it’s made a lot of really cool things possible for me now.

Future career goals, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s crazy how quick time goes, but like I’ve already been at CTC now for the better part of this year. It’s hard to imagine exactly what that could look like five years from now, but I do know that at least for like the foreseeable future, growing as a developer, but also just looking for different ways to add value in the company and just participate in everything that’s going on there. It’s been a lot of fun.

Ambassador’s Experience

Denver Startup Week: An Ambassador’s Experience

I had the distinct privilege of being part of the inaugural Ambassadors class for Denver Startup Week (DSW). The DSW Ambassadors program was a 3-day all-expenses-paid trip where out-of-town entrepreneurs, business leaders, and technical folks got the opportunity to visit Denver and experience their startup ecosystem. Having never been to Denver, I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and thankfully, I was selected to experience this vibrant city firsthand.

Stereotypically, when outsiders think of Denver, we think of ski resorts, a vibrant outdoor lifestyle, and of course, marijuana; Denver traditionally does not hold a reputation of being a technology hub like San Francisco or Chicago but in recent years, there have been rumors of it starting to establish itself as a real technology player. I am happy to report that these rumors are true: Denver is certainly establishing itself as a prime technology hub ripe with top talent.

As an Ambassador, I got the opportunity to visit 6 Denver companies that helped sponsor my class and talked with their business leaders. I learned the history of each company’s inception, their growing pains, and what they were excited about looking into the future. A number of themes/lessons persisted:

As a business leader, exemplify your company’s values. If you set an unlimited vacation policy in hopes reduce employee burnout/turnover but never go on vacation, neither will your employees. Be the example for your company
Taking a longer time to hire the right employee is a better return on investment than rushing to hire someone to fill a role. The amount of damage that a poor hire can wreak on your company can be immeasurable.
Your company’s success will likely depend on how well your team members can work with each other and communicate effectively. High emotional IQ is often a greater indicator of future successes than a high amount of technical talent.
Personally, the most welcome surprise of attending DSW was finding out how warm Denverites were and and how they truly wanted outsiders to join their community. While many people and cities pay lip service to welcoming others to their hometowns, I actually received personal phone numbers from folks who told me to call them if I needed help moving. The entire city was a warm and inviting place with a high emphasis on helping their fellow community member – fellowship takes precedence over the bottom line. I would highly recommend Denver as a city to start any company – the top technical talent, beauty of the landscape, and community-driven people make it second to none.

Deja Baker’s Coding Journey

Deja Baker’s Coding Journey Leads the Way for Women and Veterans Alike

Despite the fact that the tech community is growing faster than ever, there are still two demographics that are often overlooked – women and veterans. However, the dearth of representation from both communities is quickly changing, especially when you have individuals like Deja Baker spearheading the effort. Baker, who enlisted in the Navy as an Analyst, eventually pursued her interest in technology as a Computer Science major at the Naval Academy.

Seeking to further her education in the coding industry, Baker applied for and received Code Platoon’s Women In Technology Scholarship, which fully covers her tuition, and is scheduled to attend the all-veteran coding bootcamp this fall. While there were a number of other bootcamps to choose from, Code Platoon was always the first choice for Baker.

“One reason why I chose to apply for Code Platoon is because its exclusively for veterans,” Baker said. “I feel that being around people from a similar background, who are working towards the same goals, will prove more beneficial to the process.”

In addition to providing a sense of community, Baker believes that an all-veteran bootcamp will likely be composed of the most highly motivated and disciplined students in the coding industry.

“Veterans have worked in a variety of different roles all over the world, and because of that, veterans have a wide array of experiences that allow them to adapt quickly when engaging in new projects,” Baker said. “I feel that a lot of veterans have the drive and the aptitude to work towards a role in tech.”

Although many of today’s veterans often have skillsets that translate well to coding and programming few choose to pursue a career path in the tech industry. Baker says that veterans who have given thought to a career in coding should, at the very least, give it a try.

“I know a lot of people that are interested in coding who are too worried to see what it’s all about, but there are abundant resources online to just dabble in it and see if coding is for you.”

It’s a sentiment that’s shared by leading tech giants such as Google, IBM, and Intel, all of whom have taken measures to help veterans gain a footing in the tech sector. And because there are plenty of opportunities waiting for veterans with strong programming skills, Baker says she’s eager to begin her first day at Code Platoon.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to study and work towards becoming a developer; I’m looking forward to working in teams in a highly collaborative environment and to be challenged while solving difficult problems.”