Donny’s first taste of computer programming came from a course at a local technical college in the year 2000. At that point, he’d tried a few college courses that didn’t interest him, but something about his programming courses (in RPG and Java) clicked. In 2002, he accepted his first programming job – before graduation. He never finished his last two college courses.
“I was 23, I had a programming job, and I thought I was cool and didn’t need to finish,” he said. “I had this footloose, carefree mentality because I was a developer.”
That job turned into a 13-year career as a developer for Mohawk Industries in northwest Georgia. Donny focused on building and working with applications that ran warehouses. “We dealt with everything from receiving to shipping, printing bills of lading, inventory control, all of that type of stuff,” he said. “I got to know our warehouse personnel really well and interacted with them often so I could understand how they do their daily jobs so I could make applications that worked well for them.”
During his tenure, Donny became intimately familiar with the software Mohawk was using, which was built using RPG. He was an important resource and a reliable leader for the other developers on the team. In his free time, he tried to teach himself a few other languages like PHP and Ruby on Rails, and he did a little freelance web development work on the side.
In early 2015, Donny’s job was eliminated. The layoff came during a particularly tough time for his family, and as he looked for other jobs that focused on RPG, he realized most companies were in the process of phasing out that language. “I didn’t want to end up in the same boat again in another year or so, so I decided to stop looking for RPG positions and to focus on languages that were a little more sought after.” he said. “I started really digging into teaching myself Python and Ruby and picked up a few projects here and there, but it was frustrating.” That fall, Donny saw an ad for The Iron Yard. He’d never heard of coding bootcamps before, and he was intrigued.
“I started doing some research and I knew it would be a big risk, but I talked to my wife about it and she was completely on board,” he said. “She’s just been a really big rock for me this past year for being able to do this.”
Donny initially applied to the Durham campus for the Python course, but the class filled up before he could make a decision. When he talked to the Campus Director Dana, she told him about our new campus opening in Raleigh and our iOS course offering. “That news kind of made me grin, I’m not going to lie, because I had tried to teach myself iOS at one point but I didn’t get very far without someone to guide me,” he said. “I decided to go for it, because I was really interested in mobile.”
Donny began the course in spring of 2016. “It was amazing going through, and then after the program was over, it gave me a lot of my confidence back that I had lost over the past year,” he said. “After you just keep getting rejections left and right, I honestly considered just going to work at Walmart as a greeter or something, because I was like, maybe I’m not going to be a developer anymore. It showed me that I can keep learning and pick up new things and be desirable to employers.”
A few weeks after graduation, he applied for a job as a mobile developer with Trivago. The only catch – the job was in Germany. “I was nervous at first, but then my wife and I got excited about the idea of living in Dusseldorf,” he said. “I gave it a shot, completed the application, did a few interviews. It was actually really fun because they were so focused on my personality and wanted to make sure it would be a good culture fit.”
Donny begins his new position as an iOS developer with Trivago in Germany on December 5.
When he reflects on his experience with The Iron Yard, Donny encourages others to consider the benefits of the immersive experience. “You’re so focused on that core path – one goal. It helped me stay focused, which is exactly what I needed at the time. I needed to take a step back and center myself and focus.”