I left the Navy after 6 years. It’s surprisingly difficult to transition from the military to civilian life. One of the biggest hurdles is translating your military skills into lingo that everyone can understand. I knew I wanted to do something technical but didn’t really know what that would look like.
I applied to Vets Who Code(VWC) pretty soon after I got out in late spring of 2017. I wouldn’t start my course until September later that year. So in June I got my first job as an IT manager for a startup in downtown Augusta. I was pretty much a glorified computer guy. I set up some network and systems infrastructure stuff. As the job progressed I found myself gravitating towards digital marketing.
In September I started VWC where I would learn to code at night while still working my day job. The course took about sixteen weeks of which I became familiar with a bunch of different web technologies. As I gained more competence I started integrating what I learned at night with my day job. But sadly as class progressed my organization suffered some losses where it became harder to stay technical and my job started to focus the business relations. I graduated VWC in December and flew back home to see family for the holidays. Upon returning I had to leave the company.
The very week I left I interviewed at several organizations and received two job offers. I accepted the offer of a web development position at an agency where I would be making more than my previous job. I worked there for about eight months. I was in charge of rapid email and website development. During my time there I got involved in the tech community and started a meet up group at theClubhouse our local innovation center.
The innovation center offered me a job as an instructor for their code boot camp and I couldn’t turn it down. The mission of this boot camp is to serve unemployed and underemployed demographics by teaching the skills necessary to join the web development work force.
Again what I thought was going to be solely a technical job turned out to be focused on building relationships with students and local businesses. As I started to gain more access to the tech community and what the development scene looked like in my city I was surprised to find so little collaboration. At the same time I was learning how important communication and collaboration is to building healthy tech organizations.
I decided to organize the Southern Dev conference to work towards building that inclusive and diverse tech community. At this conference I was really luck to be able to get some really great speakers to come.
One of the biggest takeaways from VWC was to not be afraid to ask for help. I have found in tech that there is so much valuable knowledge out there and so many of us are willing and excited to share. It is one of the most important things in this career field to be able to do.
The great thing about this conference is that it is going to bring together folks from many different experiences into a place that doesn’t often have those conversations. But one of my selfish reasons I was excited was that I actually get to meet two people in person who built an organization that actually changed my life’s trajectory. I am excited to say that I am now in a career field that I love. VWC on paper is a web development boot camp. In my opinion it is the best transition assistance program out there. I am so grateful for the access to a new life the boot camp gave me.