Several times a month, we spotlight one of our coding student from our class and share his or her story. This gives us a chance to talk about our diverse student population, how they discovered Skill Distillery and where they’re taking their newfound skill sets . We want to give prospective students a sense of our community and introduce our ambitious graduates to hopeful employers.

SD: Where are you from?

KM: I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, but have been living in Washington, D.C. for the past 5 years. 

SD: Did you attend college before coming to our coding boot camp?

KM: I received a bachelors from American University in D.C. in English, with a minor in Art History.

SD: Did you have any programming experience prior to Skill Distillery?

KM: Nada! No, nothing at all. I had designed some simple e-mail campaigns in the past, but could only do small tasks in HTML like changing background colors. The new skills I learned at Skill Distillery are more comprehensive and complex than anything I ever thought I would learn.

SD: What were you doing before you attended Skill Distillery? 

KM: Working as a marketing/communications coordinator for a small startup called From the Farmer. I really liked my job, but looked at what our programmers were working on, how they were building and creating things, and realized that I wanted to be able to do that. So I decided to radically change careers and learn to code.

SD: Why did you decide to learn programming? Why Java?

KM: In my previous role, I was very dependent on our programming team. I would spend months on part of a project, only to learn that what I was doing might not be compatible with the programmers. I decided that if I really wanted to understand all the things we were building and make an impact in a company, I needed to become a programmer.

I chose Java because I knew it was a highly used, scalable language. I had also heard that  Java is more difficult than many other languages, and thought that if I was going to pay someone to teach me something, I ought to learn something that was going to really challenge me!

SD: Why did you chose Skill Distillery over other boot camps?

KM: I knew two things when I started applying for coding school: I wanted to live in Denver and I wanted to take on a big challenge like Java. When I was exploring programs, I really appreciated the personal connection I felt during the application process with Skill Distillery. Other boot camps sent me automated e-mails, but Skill Distillery called me as soon as I applied and I had an actual conversation with the staff. I also appreciated how competitive the admissions process was. It seemed tough, but fair and felt like they were working hard to curate a smart, dedicated community in each class.

SD: What was the biggest challenge?

KM: I had a really, really difficult time the first month of class. I didn’t feel like I understood anything and the learning curve was really steep. There was definitely a point where I thought to myself, ‘I might need to drop out.’ But, I worked really, really hard, pushed through everything I didn’t understand, and now I feel extremely confident in Java and Javascript. 

SD: What about the program surprised you the most?

KM: I cannot believe how much I learned! I knew nothing about programming when I walked in the door, and now I am building my own APIs!

SD: What are you doing now that you are a Java programmer?

KM: With three weeks left until graduation, I was just offered a job as a Java programmer at Connect First, a customer service software company in Boulder and will be starting the Monday after the program ends in July! Woohoo!

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