Gary Coffey and Karin Matsuyama, Alumni of the Month, October 2019

Gary Coffey was an incredibly hard working veteran who is also one of the most genuine and easygoing veterans we have had to walk through our doors. Karin was an extremely talented developer whose personal project was so impressive, we thought it was a 3 person group project.

– Rod Levy, Executive Director

 

From Mattress Firm to Finance Firm

In the Air Force, Gary Coffey did amazing things.  He was responsible for the technology that trained pilots. He downloaded and analyzed B2 bomber data. He debugged software programs.

But when his service was over and he came home, the best job he could get was selling mattresses. It was hardly the high-tech work he was accustomed to.

“Sales didn’t suit me,” said Coffey.

According to Coffey, he craved the challenge of solving complex problems but didn’t know how to translate his worldly military experience to the civilian world of work.

Gary is not alone. While veteran unemployment has improved, underemployment remains an issue. 30% of veterans are underemployed, a rate 15.6 higher than non-veterans, according to analysis conducted by Ziprecruiter in 2017.

Searching Google for IT training programs, Gary’s wife learned about Code Platoon, and he was interested because it was a coding academy specifically for veterans. Once he looked he deeper, he found that he could even use the G.I. Bill to pay for the training. After graduating the Code Platoon program and landing an internship with one of Code Platoon’s sponsoring companies, Gary boosted his salary by $25,000 a year.

“I’m inspired again,” said Coffey, who works as a software engineer for finance firm Enova.

Read more about Gary’s own thoughts on his journey into coding by clicking here.

Couples Who Code Together, Stay Together

Military spouse unemployment is considered a national security issue among military leadership. According to brand new data from the Department of Defense, military spouses are unemployed at 24%, which is six times greater than the national average. To combat military spouse unemployment, Code Platoon recently opened up the program to military spouses.

After first telling her husband about the program, Karin Matsuyama is now also going through it. Gary says that watching his wife learn to code gives him insight into how she goes about solving challenges. Coding is a new language they share, one that is rare. The experience is deepening their bond and securing their financial future.

While Karin can’t apply G.I. Bill® funds to the program like Gary did, she did qualify for Code Platoon’s Women in Technology scholarship worth $10,000.

“The GI Bill and the Women in Technology Scholarship put the program within reach,” said Gary.

The story of Gary and Karin’s journey was also featured on CBS News.

Karin brought strong technical skills to India cohort. Her thoughtful approach to problem solving was a positive influence on her fellow students and helped push the whole class forward week after week. We are grateful to have both Karin and her husband, Gary, as Code Platoon alumni working in the Chicago tech community.

– Jon Young, Director of Education

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