How a Computer Science Graduate Gained Hands-on Programming Experience at Dev Bootcamp

By Tasha Mitchell • June 05, 2017

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When it comes to programming, Bryan Mateer learned the ins and outs of different languages and concepts as a computer science undergrad at Hofstra University. But after he completed the four-year program, Bryan hadn’t gained any hands-on experience he could showcase on his resume. That’s when he decided to enroll at Dev Bootcamp in New York City. As a recent graduate of our immersive training program, Bryan now has the experience he needs to pursue a thriving career in tech. So how will he combine his C.S. degree and coding bootcamp skills in the tech job market? Read on to find out how Bryan answers this question and more.

What were you doing before Dev Bootcamp?

For about a year prior to coming to Dev Bootcamp, I was a junior programmer at a market research company in Long Island, NY. I was mostly just programming surveys. It wasn’t web development or anything like that. It was very simple, “do the same thing every day” kind of work. Prior to that, I was a Computer Science undergrad at Hofstra University. And it was during my time in college that I realized I wanted to go the web and mobile app development route because I knew that is what’s most popular today.

Naturally, after getting that first job, after spending time there, I realized this job was not really letting me do what I went to school for and I didn’t want to go too long continually working on stuff that was too far away from my degree. So that’s when I decided to cut that short, after about a year, and come to Dev Bootcamp.

After earning your computer science degree, what made you decide to invest in a coding bootcamp?

I was kind of in the mind state that I’ve already spent this money on the degree and didn’t quite get the end result that I wanted so at that point I started thinking of applying for Dev Bootcamp. Plus, after working for a year, I was able to save up money to make this happen.

A couple weeks into my first job, I knew that I wasn’t going to stay there, but I didn’t want to leave after a month. So I figured I would stay and save up. I wasn’t sure of a bootcamp exactly, but it was always in the back of my head.  I thought maybe I’d go into an apprenticeship program or something. But even then, just with my computer science degree, I didn’t feel comfortable. I felt like even if I did get past the interview, I worried I would’ve been thrown in the deep end at the actual position and would’ve either gotten fired or just been way behind on work.

So I figured after spending all that money on the computer science degree, what’s a few extra dollars to really get where I wanted to be when I originally set out on a degree. Thanks to Dev Bootcamp, where I’m at right now is where I wish I was after those four years in college.

What made you choose Dev Bootcamp over another coding program?

I knew someone who went through Dev Bootcamp’s program, and they had no prior programming experience, whereas I had the computer science degree. I had heard of Dev Bootcamp before. But what really drove me was his recommendation. He really sold the program to me. He got an internship and a job relatively quickly after completing the program. After seeing the results, it was proof enough for me that this is what I should do.

How did your background in computer science help you understand the Dev Bootcamp curriculum?

My computer science background definitely helped. It wasn’t like brand new material to me. So even back in Phase 0 when you’re really getting an intro to programming, it was more of just a refresher for me. Even a little bit of Phase 1 was not brand new material. It had been a year since I was doing that kind of programming at school so it was just a really good way to get back up to speed.

I was in a four-year program. It started off pretty similar to Dev Bootcamp actually. We were introduced to a language Python, which is very similar to Ruby, one of the many languages used at Dev Bootcamp (among them are JavaScript and SQL). The syntax is very much like English, so it’s very easy to pick it up, especially for someone coming from a non-technical background. So that was good for my first language and intro to computer science altogether at my school.

Then I moved on to a few more other complicated languages, but more popular in the field. So I worked in C++ and a little bit of Java, which is very focused on back-end logic, a lot of algorithms and data structures. Unfortunately, it just never really amounted to anything. I would learn all of these great concepts that I knew were super useful. I just never got that next step to apply them to anything. So that’s where Dev Bootcamp filled in the gap. Learning how to get in the programmer’s state of mind and problem solving was very similar to what was required during Phase 0 at Dev Bootcamp — in my case, it was just spread out over four years.

How did Dev Bootcamp prepare you for your job search?

Dev Bootcamp helped me fix up my resume because it wasn’t originally very tech specific. It was just more of a general resume. So I really narrowed down my resume for the companies I’ll be applying to, and now it’s really more geared to catch their eye. Curriculum wise, Dev Bootcamp gave me a handful of projects to put on my resume that I didn’t really have before. Aside from the computer science degree, there was really no experience, nothing to showcase. Dev Bootcamp really helped make me look more desirable on my resume. I think I look like a more appealing candidate coming out of Dev Bootcamp.

We did a lot of clone websites, which are replicas of web apps that already exist. So we worked on a stack overflow clone site. We also had a client project, which is like a mockup client. The instructors gave us a task, and we had to build web applications to their specifications. And it ended up being similar to Amazon with a social aspect to it, where you can add friends. We also had a Phase 2 passion project to make a web app of whatever we wanted. And then we just finished the final project. So I definitely have a number of projects to put on my resume and talk about in interviews.

What has your experience been like with our Careers team?

They do a really good job of flat out telling you the stuff you should be doing or giving you the right resources. I met with Nicole, and I told her I was looking for more of a startup, not too big of a company. They’re very good at narrowing down your searches and saying, you might want to check out VentureLoop — a great website for hiring at not too small of a startup, but one that’s already established. I went on the website and found the types of companies I was exactly looking for. Just like our workshops during the program, they have a couple of them throughout our phases that are really good for tips and tricks, good things to have on your resume and LinkedIn. The resources are there. It’s up to you to take advantage of them.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp?

Make sure this is what you want to do beforehand. Regardless of what bootcamp you go to, it’s going to be a lot of work. If you haven’t practiced programming beforehand, it’s going to be really overwhelming. You’re going to have to learn really quickly. I had the computer science background so the beginning stages were pretty easy for me. But I can see how if this was brand new material, how it would seem like gibberish at first. So I would say if you’re thinking about bootcamp, try some online tutorials, just practice beforehand to make sure this is what you want to do.

The degree was good for getting me in the mind state, but I never had the chance to apply anything I’d learned. So going to a coding bootcamp was a good way to fill in the gap and expand on my previous knowledge, build things, and showcase that to employers.

Interested in solidifying your skills and adding practical experience to your computer science acumen? Read more about Dev Bootcamp’s curriculum, or find a campus near you.

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