Why I Skipped College and Went to Coding Bootcamp

By Tasha Mitchell • July 11, 2017

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Let’s face it. Between the high cost of tuition and four years of dedication, going to college is not a realistic option for everyone. Learning to code at Dev Bootcamp was a much faster and more affordable alternative for Gabriela Voicu. After working five years as a waitress, bartender and hostess, then another year as a cab driver in Chicago, she decided it was time for a career change.

With previous coding experience and a passion for education, Gabriela embraced the idea of enrolling in our immersive coding program. Today, she works as a back-end developer at NextTier Education — an ed tech startup in Chicago. Read on to learn more about Gabriela’s career path and experience at Dev Bootcamp:

What made you want to learn to code or become a developer?

I was ready to start a new career, and programming seemed like a rewarding and financially stable career path. And I’m happy to report that for the past two years I have been working as a developer, it has proven to be all of those things. Technology has such potential in expanding access to education at a scale that we have not seen since the industrial revolution, and I wanted to be apart of that. While I still believe in the potential of technology to increase equality in the world, I am now much more aware of its limitations: social change is so much slower and more complex than technology will ever be.

What made you choose Dev Bootcamp over college?

The bootcamp program appealed to me because it’s a markedly faster and less expensive path to a new career. While there are many benefits to having a college degree and going through the college experience for many people, Dev Bootcamp was the better alternative for me. Being in my late 20s and having to support myself entirely made the prospect of going to school full-time for three years quite daunting. Another major factor in my decision was knowing that not having a college degree is fairly commonplace in the tech industry. There are many people who are self-taught or graduates of accelerated programs.

What are your biggest takeaways from the overall Dev Bootcamp experience?

You can learn anything. I mean it. With enough time, proper support and the learning techniques that work for you, there’s no limit to what you can learn. Ever since I can remember, I did not believe in talent. To me, talent is a word that people use to describe someone who has been doing something for so long that they make it seem easy or that it comes naturally to that person. Everything that we know how to do, we have learned at some point in our lives. We’re not born knowing how to tie our shoelaces, add two numbers or how to tell if something we have said has hurt another human being. This means that even so-called soft skills are learned, such as socializing with other people for work or not, giving and receiving feedback, and communicating effectively. And if we can learn anything, we can get better at anything and we can do anything. Going through Dev Bootcamp has cemented this belief for me.

How did DBC prepare you for your job search and your role now?

There were many things about the job searching process that I did not know before DBC. In particular, I used to believe that the way to get a job was to look at job postings on websites and send your resume to apply, even though almost all of the jobs I had gotten in the past were through friends and acquaintances. At DBC, I learned about how to use my network and expand it, learn more about companies before applying, and change my mindset from applying to advertised positions to finding companies I love and seeing what positions they might have available. I got a position within two weeks of graduating through a connection I made at DBC.

In terms of preparing me for my current position, DBC does a great job of simulating a work environment with the on-site phases. Though it was hard to get used to at first because of how different it was from all my previous educational experiences, the setup of Phases 1, 2 and 3 are very similar to my day-to-day at work. When I’m assigned a new ticket, it’s like starting a new challenge. Sometimes I work by myself; sometimes I work in teams. I try to figure out what I have to do, and then try ways of doing it until something works. There’s a lot of Googling involved. When I have a working solution, I refactor the code and submit a pull request (PR). A more senior dev will review it and provide feedback. If I’m stuck, I will try a number of different things to get unstuck (rubber ducking, snack break :D), and then ask for the help of a peer or more senior dev.

Where did you get a job, and what are you doing there?

I work as a back-end developer at NextTier Education, an ed tech startup in Chicago. My day-to-day involves maintaining a Django API, adding new features to it, testing it, refactoring code, giving PR reviews to other coworkers’ code, and deploying to AWS.

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

If you don’t immediately love programming from the first time you do it, keep doing it! I cannot stress this enough. Coding can be challenging and extremely intimidating, so the odds of you enjoying the first few months of doing it are not that high. Sure, some people will love it right away and express great happiness when they get something working. If that’s not you, that’s totally OK. Give yourself enough time to really figure out that you find it rewarding.


Ready to put in the work surrounded by fellow lifelong learners who will quickly become close friends? We thought so. Read more alumni stories and discover all the fields and specialities our graduates come from, and find your fit in the tech industry here at DBC. Read to apply? Get started today!

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