Congratulations to Mark Hauenstein, our winner of the 2016 review giveaway! We asked Mark about his experience at coding bootcamp Zip Code Wilmington.
Tell us what inspired you to attend a bootcamp, and how you decided to attend your program?
I had been trying to find an entry level job in the technology field for a few months with no success due to my lack of formal education in the field. Zip Code Wilmington was exactly what I needed to sharpen and certify my skills as a technologist.
Tell us a little bit about what you do in your current job.
I work for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. as an Applications Developer.
What challenges did you overcome to get to where you are?
I was dealing with financial hardship before and during Zip Code Wilmington. I would not have been able to attend had it not been for their scholarships and the support from family.
What motivates you in your career?
I’m motivated by the personal satisfaction of being good at what I do. I still get the same excitement out of getting a new piece of code to work as I did when I first started programming.
What were the people and culture like at your program at Zip Code Wilmington?
Zip Code Wilmington’s culture is inclusive, demanding, and fun. A popular slogan is “I am my coders keeper”, as all students are expected to help each other and work in teams. Lectures felt like a mix of TED talks, university calibar lectures, and stand up comedy.
What was an average day in the program like?
An average day at Zip Code would start with a lecture where one topic is focused on and hashed out completely. After lunch another lecture is given, and the labs are given out. After class, the majority of students are there for an extra 2-4 hours working on labs. Most evenings Alumni of the school come back to help tutor students. When you have finished working, you go home and code or read a textbook until you fall asleep. It’s also not uncommon for a day to include guest speakers from partner organizations or field trips to their offices.
Any advice for students looking to join a learning program like a boot camp?
See how invested the boot camp is in your success. What’s great about Zip Code Wilmington is that as a small non-profit, their success is tied to yours. They can’t just take your money and send you along your way, their partner organizations are counting on them and holding them accountable to provide them with the employees they need.
Do you see bootcamps replacing college for parts of the population?
I think bootcamps are better than college. If you gave 18 year old me the choice between spending 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars on a degree, or two thousand dollars going to a software boot camp to get a job at an employer that would help pay for a degree over a long period of time, I’d easily choose the former.
What plans/dreams do you have for the next 5 years?
Short term, I’m going to get a dog. Long term, I plan to use my Company's tuition reimbursement program to pursue a masters in Cyber Security.
Any advice for recent graduates looking for a job?
Don’t stop learning, and always have a side project.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Zip Code Wilmington was better, faster, cheaper, and more invested in my success than any school I’ve ever seen or been to. No college president is going to be on the phone with an employer negotiating and pitching for you personally, at Zip Code Wilmington you will have that.
Mark is a native of Canandaigua, NY, a small lake town in Western New York. He enjoys hiking, longboarding, gaming, cooking, and making silly apps for his own personal use, such as solving all possible Sudoku Puzzles or to decide what to make himself for dinner. Connect with Mark on linkedIn