From Sales Associate & Lyft Driver to Software Developer Student
This week, we’re featuring Dan, a current Bloc student in our Software Developer Track. Learn about his journey below!
What did you do before Bloc?
Before Bloc, I received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies at Colorado State University, I worked as a sales associate at T-Mobile, and I drove for Lyft on the side.
Why did you enroll in Bloc’s program?
My answer to the first question kind of answers this one, too. I had accumulated a ton of student loan debt, I was making so-so money at T-Mobile and Lyft, and I was frustrated trying to keep up with massive student loan payments with meager paychecks. On top of that, I was in a good relationship with my girlfriend, who I proposed to halfway through my education with Bloc. I wanted to be able to contribute more to our someday-family than a retail store wage can offer. I felt like my best bet at getting a better career and a better life was to get into a field that paid better and played to my strengths, even if that required learning a new skill.
I knew I was a good writer, I was good at using computers, and I was a pretty logical person, so I thought coding might be something I’d have a knack for, and I knew software engineers were paid a lot more than I was. The problem was that I had never coded in my life, so I started looking around for a place that could teach me. I actually first looked at a local in-person coding bootcamp to learn how, but they expected you to be there 9–5 Monday through Friday, which just wasn’t realistic while I had rent and student loans to pay. Plus, I didn’t have anything financially to fall back on. So then I saw an ad for Bloc, its part-time online courses, and how they pair students with mentors to help guide you, and it seemed like a perfect fit for me!
What inspired you to become a software engineer?
Like I said, it was mainly that it seemed like something that would be a good fit for my personality and strengths, and I knew it was a more lucrative, in-demand career field than what I had wound up in. I knew a handful of people who could code, and pretty much all of them had more income to work with than I did.
What has been your favorite project? Tell me about it!
I enjoyed all of the Bloc curriculum projects, but I just started the Open-Source Apprenticeship at the end of the course and that has been both harder and more rewarding at the same time. I just completed my first major open-source contribution to a Ruby on Rails project called Women Rising, which is a program that partners women up with mentors who can teach them about various industries and skills. I made a more architectural change to the project that allows mentors to select multiple industries to mentor in and select various career stages for each industry, which required some database modifications that were a challenge for me.
What’s your favorite part of the Bloc curriculum?
I think the front end section of the Bloc curriculum was the most fun, since it’s very visual and less abstract content, but the last two sections, Software Engineering Principles and the Open Source Apprenticeship, are probably the most rewarding since they’re definitely the hardest.
What are you looking to do after Bloc?
I have been looking at a lot of different possibilities. A local development company called Radial here in Colorado hosts a Meetup I go to, and they helped a ton with my Women Rising contribution, so I would love to work with them if they feel I’m a good fit. I also have a couple small business ideas I like the idea of pursuing, so I want to at least work on those as side projects if nothing else. Otherwise, I’d really like to work at a small company, like a different software agency or a startup with a great app idea. I have worked at a lot of big companies and I’m kind of tired of them. I think they’re too often set in their ways, watching the bottom line and avoiding risk and change like the plague, where small companies thrive on risk. I don’t want to be a cog in a machine anymore, I want to have a voice and contribute, and in turn I want to learn directly from the people who actually make the decisions for the company I work at.