My experience switching careers in my 30's to become a developer.

I remember being a 17 years old kid and having my own website on geocities, I was so proud of it and all the HTML I was able to teach myself with such little resources available to me. At that time in my life, it was definitely my proudest achievement. I was more focused on Diablo 2 and my fan page than I was school work, but I didn’t care because as long as the internet was around I could just keep making website for the rest of my life — and that was the plan. A few years later, I packed up and moved to the big city, went to a small college for digital media and web design, I learned a handful of useful skills, but never ended up getting a job afterwards. I blame the fact that I was still young and naive to how get a real job, the horrible job placement program the college had and not knowing a single other person in the industry. I wasn’t getting any work, and the work I was getting wasn’t enough to pay my rent, I eventually started working retail again. A few years after that I became a hairdresser, it was a fun creative industry that required little to no previous academic achievements. It was perfect, and I loved it. I did that for nearly a decade, but that decade I was cutting hair I had this emptiness inside each day after getting home from work. I felt like I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. There was a hole that needed to be filled with some sort of self-satisfaction I wasn’t getting being a hairdresser. I watched the internet take over the world, phones with internet access, the birth of social media, with every milestone the internet made I felt worse and worse about myself. I felt I had to do something, I needed to get back in to coding — but how, I’m in my 30's, I have responsibilities, bills to pay, I couldn’t go back to school at this age, and even if I was able to manage the financial part of being unemployed for however many months it takes for me to learn a new skill and find employment — would I be able to keep up with all the younger people fresh out of high school, who’s brains have been working non stop at full steam since grade 1 ? I felt my brain has been on vacation for the last 15 years. Does it still work? Can I even retain academic information anymore? Would I have to drop out halfway through, would I be the guy who didn’t make it through a coding Bootcamp? I didn’t know, but I knew there was only one way to find out, and if I didn’t, I would never forgive myself for it.

One day shortly after this realization, a young man came in for a haircut who told me he just finished University for computer science and is flying out to California the following week to start his new job with Google. That was a life changing moment for me, not sure why it was that fellow in particular, I had met many developers and programmers while being a hairdresser (maybe the fact that he is 20 years old and is about to start a job that pays roughly 4 times what I make after 10 year dedicated to a this craft) after him I had decided if I’m going to make a change, I have to do it now. Two months later I was telling my employer I was going to be taking a part time course at Hacker You in web development. I finished the part time course and felt amazing about it, there was definitely a difficult learning curve, but having a background in HTML I felt I had a little bit of an advantage. Following the part time course was the Bootcamp, the real deal.. the good buy friends and family I’ll talk to you in 3 months, course. First off, I needed money, it was embarrassing, but I asked my parents for some help with paying for the course and help with rent while I was unemployed. Luckily they just sold the house we grew up in a month prior for an sum of money the likes of which I will never ever see in my life, so they didn’t mind helping. I told my employer I’m going back to HackerYou to take the full time course now and I gave him my two weeks notice.

So here I am, in my last week of bootcamp, finishing up my online portfolio and polishing up all the work I did. This bootcamp was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, not just the sheer amount of time work involved, but the emotional strain. The feeling of failure, that you aren’t keeping up with the rest, that you are going to be the only one to not finish the project on time, that you were right from the beginning and you shouldn’t have even tried. It very hard not to succumb to those thoughts, there were many tears towards the end. Working from 10 am to 10 pm on a beautiful sunny Saturday sitting in my living room all by myself working on whatever project is due this week, trying to teach myself JavaScript, watching the same YouTube video over and over trying to understand why this function isn’t working the way I want it to.

So, would I recommend it to you? I mean that’s why you are reading this blog in the first place isn’t it? Was it worth it? For me personally, it was the best decision I’ve ever made, it gave my life new meaning, but you’re not me. My advice for you is to ask yourself - is sitting in front of a computer staring at HTML and JavaScript for 8+ hours a day you? I’m not asking if you can tolerate it, I’m asking is the thought of that one that makes you smile? It’s not an easy thing for a lot of people, but for me personally, building stuff has always been my thing, so has technology and computers so this was always it for me, it just took me 10 years to figure it out. I still have so much left to learn, which scares me and excites me at the same time.

For anyone reading this and thinking of enrolling at Hacker You, and want to know my honest feelings on it, here it is.

Comparing it to the other college I went to when I first moved to the city, would be an insult to Hacker You, I can’t even compare the two. Heather, the CEO has made it so each and every student never feels neglected or left behind. There is a 24 hr online help chat that instructors and HY alumni are on to help students who are having trouble with a specific problem. Each student gets pared up with a previous graduate whom they can message, call or meet with for any help they need may need throughout the bootcamp. There is a class on building an online presence and creating your brand. How to write a proper resume and cover letter, what to expect in interviews, alumni will come back and give presentations on their experience in the work field. I could actually go on about how much this college wants you to succeed . I don’t know much about any other coding bootcamps in Toronto, but if you already know this is what you want to do and you’re now looking for the best one, given my experience at HackerYou I wouldn’t waste my time going anywhere else. From day one until the day you’ve landed your job, Hacker You has your back.