- last updated on JAN 19, 2018 -

Yes, I am pursuing a career change.

I have thought about this for so long. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Here’s some background. I graduated from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in May 2015 with a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. I went on to work in construction project management, and I have been in the same place for 2 years now. It’s not my ideal spot, but it’s a job and pays. It’s definitely not what I set out to do when I went to school, but to be honest, I didn’t really have a plan. My “plan” changed continuously and tremendously throughout my school years and up to now.

The idea of attending a bootcamp never emerged until I read the book Set for Life by Scott Trench in May 2017. The book is about financial independence, a subject matter I was pretty deep into already. Unlike most content about FI though, this book stressed the importance of increasing one’s income to get to FI more quickly and specifically mentioned coding bootcamps as a suggestion for changing careers. I’ll discuss the other reasons for my career change at the end of this, so keep reading!

When I got to that part of the book, I immediately put it down and started doing research. I went through the top ranked schools and read their reviews. After I narrowed them down to where I live, I began going on Meetup and Eventbrite to find various tours and workshops and info sessions in order to visit the schools in NYC. After a ton of research, I finally decided on Fullstack Academy.

Okay, there’s one thing about Fullstack Academy that automatically separates it from the rest. It has a part-time program. The classes take place on two nights out of the week and one full weekend per month. Since I’m heavily pursuing FI, that makes it hard for me to drop 3 months of employment and probably even more time for job search. I went back and forth on doing full-time and part-time for so long, even after I decided on Fullstack Academy. The main reason why I wanted to do full-time was that I wanted to have 110% dedication to the coursework and becoming the best developer I could be. I eventually decided on rather keeping the financial security, but I would just have to work hard to get the most out of the program regardless. Thankfully, I have a pretty lax job that shouldn’t detract from my studies. My path to become a developer would take 2.5 months longer, but I’d have a paycheck coming in throughout the whole program and even afterward when I’m trying to land a developer job.

However, that wasn’t the only reason why I chose Fullstack Academy. I most likely would have chose it even if I was doing full-time. I wanted a school with a proven track record, so that meant a few years under its belt of teaching and guiding students to go onto become developers. That narrowed the pool down to options including Fullstack Academy, App Academy, Hack Reactor, Flatiron School, and Dev Bootcamp. All of these were started in 2012 and were some of the original bootcamps. A long history also means years of graduates who could be possible connections as well as companies that have worked with the school in recruiting.

App Academy and Flatiron School both have very high reputations, but they use both the languages JavaScript and Ruby in their curriculum. I wanted to focus on JavaScript, because it’s pretty much the language of the Internet. There’s already so much to learn about this continually evolving language, and learning two languages over the course of a bootcamp program might make it tough to focus on the more useful one. David Yang, the co-founder of Fullstack Academy, goes more in depth on the topic here. He actually led an info session I attended, and I loved how real he was. I read all the articles he’s written, and he seems to really care about his students. You can even find him on campus, and you definitely don’t see that in the schools that have expanded to many different campuses around the country or even the world. This was Dev Bootcamp for example, and I personally think that led to their closing. They may have been the first bootcamp, but according to student reviews, the quality of education seemed to have diminished over the years. If you look at the reviews for Fullstack Academy on Course Report, SwitchUp, Facebook, Google, or even Yelp, it’s almost impossible to find a negative review on the school. Unfortunately, the less than handful of not so positive reviews were for the part-time program that I’ll be attending. Hopefully, I can get through the downsides of part-time and still have an amazing experience. An important part of a bootcamp is helping students find employment after graduating. Most bootcamps have outcomes reports that show what percentage of students go on to land jobs and how much they get paid. They can often inflate their numbers to reflect themselves more favorably. Fullstack Academy is one of the founding members of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR), which publishes outcomes reports from participating schools held to uniformly strict standards. That makes me feel more confident in the numbers Fullstack Academy puts out, and I can have more realistic expectations. The only other school in NYC that has published data on CIRR is Hack Reactor, but that campus has only been around for around a year or so. I’ve actually been, and it’s tiny. Hack Reactor and Fullstack Academy are two of the few schools that focus only on JavaScript and don’t incorporate Ruby.

Developers are in demand. Therefore, a developer has flexibility. I want the option to work for a startup or a corporation if I want. I also don’t want to be bound geographically. Companies around the world need developers, and I’d love to try working and living in different places. Many developers don’t even need to be in offices to produce. The very possibility of working remote and having the freedom to be anywhere as a digital nomad excites me. That’s still years down the road though. Reaching financial independence will take even longer unfortunately.

I just want to end by saying that income and opportunity aren’t the only aspects of software development that appeal to me. Yes, they’ll help me reach financial independence faster, but I still have to spend years of my life working. I’d rather be doing something that feels more fulfilling to me. I’ve always been fascinated by the tech industry, and I went to engineering school surrounded by people creating and inventing. To be honest, I’m not really a fan of the traditional engineering fields. I really hope this post shows that you don’t have to be stuck doing something you don’t enjoy. It’s not too late to change careers. If you don’t feel like doing that though, at least take the steps toward financial independence to have the freedom to do anything. I’ll show you the way. Just follow along.