A few times each month, we spotlight one of our students 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.
Skill Distillery: Where are you from?
Sarah Lobser: I’m from Littleton, Colorado.
SD: What was your highest level of education before coding school?
SL: I have two Master’s degrees! I just love learning … and student loans (laughs)!
SD: What were you doing before going to coding school?
SL: I served in the U.S. Navy for 5 years as a helicopter electrician with the HSM-75 Squadron, known as the “Wolfpack,” in San Diego. I was working on MH-60R helicopters, and I deployed with the USS Nimitz strike group in 2013 for 10 months aboard the USS Stockdale, a guided missile destroyer.
SD: Why did you decide to learn programming?
SL: I actually started college as a computer science major. I had a gut feeling that I would like it and be good at it. But I was 17, just a kid really. I took full advantage of the ‘college experience,’ becoming an athlete and exploring other career paths. I switched my major to mathematics because I felt that was more generic and could be applied to many different areas. Fast-forward, and now I’m an old, wise woman, sort of. I was getting out of the Navy and needed to pick a direction. I still knew I liked programming and was pretty good at it, and had been learning more on my own little by little.
SD: Did you have any programming experience?
SD: Why did you choose SD?
SL: It was luck, really. I had heard of these bootcamps, but I was skeptical. The same month that I separated from the Navy I stumbled upon an article about SD being the first bootcamp of its kind to accept the GI Bill?. I started looking into it and found the school was about 20 minutes from my house in Denver. I read more about the program online and learned about its focus on Java and the kinds of top jobs their alumni land. There was a discussion on their website about why Java was chosen over other languages, and the great demand for Java programmers in the workforce. I did a quick job search to see what employers are looking for and found that Java is, in fact, the most in-demand language out there. Ruby? Not so much. I was still apprehensive, unsure if this program could get me from, ‘I’m pretty sure I would be good at this,’ to ‘I’m totally employable,’ but it did!
SD: What surprised you the most?
SL: Two things: First, I was surprised by how challenging it was and how much I was able to learn and do. Second, I was surprised by how much everyone at the school cared about the students’ success. From day one it was apparent how much care and thought went into the design of the program. The class size was designed to be intimate, and they only accept students they think will be successful in the long run. There is a lot of instructor and TA support, so I knew I could always get help from someone if I got stuck. And the curriculum was so well crafted, I could tell each day was carefully planned out to have us learn as much as possible as efficiently as possible.
SD: What was the biggest challenge you faced in the bootcamp?
SL: The program introduces a lot of different technologies and it seemed like every week I would be learning something totally new, maybe seeing the same app functionality I’d developed before now achieved using totally different means. If I were to miss a day or let my attention drift, I would fall behind.
SD: What are you doing next?
SL: I’m starting work as a software developer at ClickBank on Monday! I waited a little longer than most to start my job search, but I started interviewing at companies the last week of school, and 10 days after graduation I received an amazing offer I couldn’t refuse. It still hasn’t sunk in, it’s all happened so fast. This program made me far more employable than my four year degree, not that I regret the college experience. SD is clearly filling a gap and serving a lot of people, both employers and aspiring developers.