What was Cody McCabe's experience at App Academy?By: The SwitchUp Team
Cody McCabe is currently working as a Full-Stack Engineer for ChainShot. He attended App Academy to pursue a more artistic career. As a problem-solver, he desired a career that would challenge him each day. Thanks to his bootcamp program, he now has a fulfilling position that keeps him guessing. If you would like to see some of his work, find him on Github. Read more about his story in our interview below.
Can you tell us how you went from Accounting to Software Development?
As a sophomore in college, after taking an intro to drawing class, I fell in love with creating and decided to take Art as a minor. For the rest of college, I would spend more time in the sculpture studio or drawing with charcoal than preparing for the CPA exam. When I graduated with my Masters in Accounting and began working at a Big 4 accounting firm, I had plans to complete my CPA certification. However, after 3 years of public account experience, I realized that something was missing, my need to create. During planned time off to finish my CPA exam, I actually picked up a C++ textbook and started to teach myself how to program. By the end of the month, I realized that I could see myself doing this as a career and started thinking about ways in which I could make that happen. My cousin suggested a coding bootcamp, I applied, completed an introductory course and started my path towards a new career.
What inspired you to attend a App Academy?
I'm the type of person that enjoys throwing myself into the fire and adapting quickly. App Academy seemed like an intense program where I could quickly build a coding foundation and be able to justify spending all of my time learning to program while being around people who were aiming for the same goal.
How did you get started in Software Development? Is it something you always wanted to do?
It crossed my mind multiple times during my life, as I always wanted to create my own video game. I winded up messing around with C++ back in high school and then again halfway through my time in public accounting. What I learned back then was very basic and not much of a foundation to build on.
There are quite a few bootcamps to choose from - what made you decide to attend App Academy over other programs? What were your goals for the program?
The deferred tuition was an instant sell for me. I had full confidence that landing the job would the be the easy part after going through a program such as this. In terms, of the other schools, I just couldn't get myself to pay their tuition up-front when I already have school loans. My goals for the program at the time was to be able to make my own video game when the bootcamp was over. We winded up making one during bootcamp so that goal got smashed pretty quickly.
For you, what were the pros and cons of attending a bootcamp?
- High intensity and competitive atmosphere
- Instantly building my network in the tech space
- Overview of many topics helped me decide which area I wanted to focus on as a web developer
- Life is eat, sleep, code for 3 months.
- No time to catch up if you fall behind
- No income for duration of program
Tell us a bit about your experience and the day-to-day during the course: How were courses structured?
It was a good mix between reading, projects, homework, lecture, and pair-programming.
What was your cohort like?
My cohort was fantastic! Everyone I met was so friendly and excited to be going through App Academy and start their next chapter of life. I met some people in bootcamp that I will be my friends for life.
What was an average day in the program like?
Every day started off with a lecture of the previous day's homework. Right after a lecture, we would immediately jump into pair-programming (there were a few days that were solo but not many). During pair-programming, we would go through the day's projects. There was never an absolute minimum you needed to get through but the goal was to get through as much content as you could. Around noon we would take an hour break for lunch. Some people would actually use this time to get through some homework. Then it was back to pair programming until a 15-minute break around 4 pm. We would finish the day with more pair programming then were allowed to leave at 6 pm. At this point, I would say 50% of the class left and did homework at home. I was a part of the group that stayed at least until 9 pm. There were even some nights I stayed until 2 am to finish up a project. These late nights also helped me bond with the people in my cohort that also decided to stay late.
What was most helpful about the environment and teaching style at App Academy?
The fact that there were weekly tests and you could even be kicked out of the program was intense. I feel that this intensity allowed me to push myself even harder than I normally would to understand the content and build a solid foundation in such a short amount of time. I also really enjoyed the pair-programming aspect of the program as it allowed you to test your current knowledge. There were multiple times that either my partner or I didn't understand a certain concept but the other did so would explain. Teaching others helps to solidify your own knowledge in my experience. It was also a great time to start building your network in the field!
What was your cohort like? Did you feel like it was a diverse place to learn? Tell us a bit about the instructors and culture at App Academy?
A mix of people from all different backgrounds, ethnicity, and genders. App Academy really values inclusiveness and have built multiple support groups that you were able to attend on a weekly basis if desired.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you have been doing since you graduated from App Academy?
I started working for a startup called ChainShot as a Full-Stack Engineer. ChainShot helps bridge the gap between web developers and blockchain technology by providing free in-browser interactive learning tutorials. As a new developer, the tutorials are so fun to build because in order to teach the tech to a user I must really dig deep into the documentation and play around.
Did your bootcamp prepare you for the job search, and if so, how?
Yes, and they did a fairly good job at it. The last 2 weeks or so of the program solely focus on the job search. This includes building your resume, practicing interviews, practicing typical whiteboarding sessions, as well as bringing in panels of people who have gone through the program before and are now working as developers.
Tell us a little bit about what you do in your current job. What motivates you in your career?
I do a little bit of everything at this point since it is a small startup. On the technical side, most days are building out a new feature on the front-end using React, since the back-end is pretty stable at this point. Sometimes alterations are needed on the ruby on rails back-end and I have no issue getting in there and making those changes. In addition, I'm fully involved with the team in terms of the direction of our product. My background in accounting has also come into play a few times regarding how to create a proper budget and taxes that we are dealing with as a corporation. My motivation for my career would be to help build something that has a real impact on the world. I believe that if ChainShot can help educate developers about blockchain, those developers can help solve some real-world problems.
What challenges have you overcome to get to where you are?
Past few years were a bit rough. I've lived in about 5 different places within New York for different reasons over the past 2 years. One of the hardest challenges for me overcome during that time was actually deciding that I wanted to be a programmer and making the leap from a stable income, life, and career to strive for happiness and fulfillment in my everyday life. I can say now that I have achieved that.
What advice do you have for people making a career change through a coding bootcamp?
Be ready to put in the hours. You really get out of the bootcamp what you put into it. Sure you could go in during the specified hours, do the homework, pass the tests, and move on. But are you coding on weekends? When you get back from bootcamp do you continue working on your project? Put your entire life into the bootcamp for the 3 months and you will reap the rewards.
Any advice for recent graduates looking for a job?
Keep coding. Start your own projects. Build your knowledge base past what you were taught. Search for new and upcoming technologies. Apply to a ridiculous amount of jobs even if you don't seem qualified.
And finally, is there anything else you'd like to share?
Honestly, I can say that going to App Academy was one of the best decisions of my life. The ability to build anything I can think of is such a powerful tool that I would never give up.
And finally, is there anything else you'd like to share?
Be nice to everyone, wherever you are, because the world is a small place, and you'll never know when something pays off, simply because you said thank you with a nice big smile.
Want to learn more about App Academy? Check out what alumni have to say on SwitchUp.