Scott was only 17 when he enlisted as an infantryman in the Marines. He deployed to Iraq with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Alpha Company. While there, his mom sent him DVDs of The Office, and he watched episode after episode and fell in love with comedy.
In the middle of the war torn Al Anbar province, he quenched his thirst for normalcy by dreaming about doing comedy when he made it back home. When he returned to Chicago, he hedged his bets. He got a traditional bachelor’s degree using the GI bill, and he also graduated from Second City’s improv training program.
However, after finishing, Scott didn’t see a future in comedy. So, he leveraged his traditional degree to work for a value-added technology reseller. He was miserable in a cubicle and after months of feeling unfulfilled, the sleep disorders he developed during his service were exasperated and affecting his mental health. He felt lost.
Mentorship makes the difference
Scott kept coming back to the idea of wanting to be creative and it lead him to the Code Platoon program. Coding was a blank canvas where he could build anything, and Code Platoon gave him everything he needed to learn how, including a mentor.
Every Code Platoon student is assigned a mentor who can guide him or her in adapting to the business world and applying their old and new skills in a different context. Scott was matched with Nicole Carpenter, who was trained by the Marines to speak Arabic and who is also a coder with 8th Light, one of the companies that supports Code Platoon.
Nicole says she didn’t focus on the technical aspects of coding with Scott. Her mission was to help him get clear on the direction he wanted to take with his career and to help him understand his worth as a highly sought-after coder. As she mentored to him over the weeks, she saw him evolve. At first, he thought he wanted to work on front-end design projects, but later discovered he had more passion for the back-end work like mapping. In fact, Nicole was so impressed with Scott’s progress that she helped him land his first job at the same company she works for, 8th Light. Now, they work
alongside each other.
When you ask Scott about Nicole, you can hear his gratitude beam through his voice. He says he owes her everything and that she was instrumental in his success. After floundering for the first few years after leaving the military, Scott finally feels like he is on the right path as a coder.