Alumnus Spotlight: Joseph Whittington of Coder Camps
Growing up in South America, Joseph Whittington didn't have many opportunities to use technology. It wasn't until he moved to New York that Joseph discovered his passion for tech, which led him to pursue civil engineering at City College in New York. After graduation, Joseph applied his skills as a satellite equipment technician with the United States Army.
Joseph has now transitioned out of the army, and he is taking his love of tech in a new direction: as a software engineer. With the help of Operation Code, Joseph even landed a full scholarship to begin his new career path with Coder Camps.
We caught up with Joseph to learn about his experience with Coder Camps, and his journey from the U.S. military to code school:
Your previous career was in the United States Army as a Communications Technician. How did you decide to pursue a career change into Software Engineering?
I was already pursuing a degree in computer engineering prior to joining the military, but being a satellite communications technician really helped me to see the various applications of software and how it's used. So I decided that I was gonna try my hand at a career in software development.
For you, what is most exciting about learning to code?
I like seeing my projects come to life. There's just something about the feeling of knowing that a simple idea can become something extraordinary with the right programming skills.
You were the awarded a full scholarship thanks to a partnership between Operation Code and Coder Camps. How did you hear about the scholarship, and what was the application process like?
I heard about the scholarship through a facebook ad, and the application took 5 minutes over the phone. The next thing I knew I received a phone call from Coder Camps telling me that I won the scholarship!
That's awesome! Why were you interested in attending Coder Camps to learn Software Engineering?
I really love the "Coder for Life" program that they have, which gives all Coder Camps grads access to Coder Camps courses throughout the length of their career. To me this was a huge value-add, and a great way to stay up to date on my skills and ensure that I continue to be relevant in the industry.
As someone who did not have a coding background, how did you prepare for Coder Camps?
I actually was planning on attending a programming bootcamp, so I took the Codecademy web developer pro intensive course to prepare.
So far, what has been your biggest challenge while learning to code?
The biggest challenge is definitely not knowing how to do certain simple things when working on my program. Luckily, Coder Camps has a great community to reach out to for help when I get stuck.
You started Coder Camps on October 2nd. Tell us about what it was like to start the program.
The first week was hard. I had just returned to Georgia from Florida because I needed to evacuate for hurricane Irma, and I also had to juggle a lot of appointments since I was transitioning out of the Army. But thanks to the Codecademy course I took, I was able to do the first few weeks of coursework pretty easily.
What challenges did you overcome to get where you are?
I grew up in poverty and traveled all the way from Guyana to get a better life. I ended up joining the Army so I could pay for college. Now that I am out of the Army, it's time to focus on my professional goals and honing my skills as a developer.
Tell me about your goals and plans for the future. How do you hope to build your career over the next few years?
The ultimate goal for me is to become a Computer Vision researcher. I plan to get there by continuing school and getting a PhD and also by working on side projects to reinforce my programming skills.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in attending a bootcamp?
The commitment is intense, so make sure you're in this for the right reason. As I have seen many time in the military, if you're doing intense training for the wrong reasons, it's a little too easy to quit when the going gets tough.