I was not sure about my future when transitioning out of the military. I was still completely unsure of what I wanted to do, and the pressure to decide only compounded over the years, the closer I got to graduating from college. After switching my college major four times, I was only three semesters away from finishing my bachelor’s degree when the pandemic began. As my state went into lockdown, I found myself with extra downtime and decided I might as well try to learn a valuable skill. A quick Google search later, and I found myself falling into the rabbit hole that is software development.
Research led me to discover what coding bootcamps are and how Veterans can use their education benefits to pay for some of them. I was intrigued and wanted to know more. To get a sense and feel for each program, I did many of their pre-work, all free and focused on programming fundamentals. Only after discovering the VET TEC program did I come across Code Platoon. Excited about the possibility of not exhausting education benefits, I emailed Code Platoon and inquired about their program.
Greg Dobrny, Code Platoon’s Student Outreach Coordinator, promptly responded and scheduled a time to talk. He explained Code Platoon’s commitment to helping Veterans transition into tech jobs and answered my questions about the program. He also mentioned that Code Platoon was going to start a Bootcamp Prep course in the upcoming weeks. This prep course would be 3 hours a day, two days a week for a month, with live instruction from a Code Platoon instructor and two teaching assistants. The Bootcamp Prep course proved to be of enormous value. It helped to understand fundamentals further and cement the principles that everyone will need in software development.
Useful as it was, the Bootcamp Prep hit the ground running from day one. It might seem like information overload to many people, but this is meant to replicate what a Coding Bootcamp program is like. Those who tried to learn independently before the course struggled a lot less than those who signed without knowing much about fundamentals. I remember how only a third of the people present on day one finished the prep program. What’s more, it only gets harder from here on out.
The application process for any Coding Bootcamp can be daunting and intimidating, for sure. Software engineering is hard. I highly recommend that everyone do their research to see what this field entails and see if they will enjoy it. It is not everyone’s cup of tea. I urge you not to be motivated by the promise of the starting salaries a lot of bootcamps choose to display on their websites and instead be driven by your curiosity and desire to learn more and create.
Personally, it dawned on me how as a software engineer I would be able to create anything I want. Any webpage, app, or videogame that I can imagine I can learn to make (eventually). I would be limited only by my own creativity and ambition. This way of looking at programming really broke the preconceptions I had about software engineering. I used to see it as a strict science, lacking space for creativity, but now I see it as an art form once you can break through the initial learning curve. It’s the art form of a modern-day artist.
Having talked to Greg and gone through the Bootcamp Prep course solidified my confidence in attending Code Platoon. Their commitment to helping Veterans is genuine, and for the first time since leaving the military, I am excited about what my future holds. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions! We are all in this together, and I am glad to help. Semper Fi.
Cristian Baeza is a Marine Veteran. Cristian has been accepted to Code Platoon’s November Platoon, which begins in February 2021. Cristian is sharing his Code Platoon Journey through a series of posts documenting his search for a Bootcamp, acceptance to Code Platoon, and his classroom experience throughout the 14 week immersive Bootcamp.