From bowling attendant to software developer: Doug’s story

We share stories of our students and graduates on this blog often, in hopes that they will inspire even one person as much as they inspire us. They are stories that remind us why we do what we do every day – to help people change their lives by learning to code and launching new careers.

While it’s one thing to hear accolades from those of us at The Iron Yard, it’s another to hear praise from the people who hire our graduates. One of our grads, Doug, recently received an award from his employer, Blackbaud, and his manager sent him the following in an email:

In my 18 years at Blackbaud, I haven’t seen a new hire ramp up so quickly and make the type of impact you have. I’ve been nothing but impressed with your work. Your success also shows how impactful programs like The Iron Yard can be, which is just awesome.

We caught up with Doug to find out more about his journey to a career in coding. Keep reading, and be inspired.

What were you doing before you decided to attend a code bootcamp? 

I was working at The Alley as a bowling attendant/amateur bowling mechanic.

What inspired you to attend The Iron Yard? How/why did you make the choice to attend?

I had always enjoyed working/playing with computers, and I was tired of dealing with the day-to-day stresses of the food and bev industry. I had heard about TIY from a regular at The Alley, Tim Wolf, who is the tech industry here in Charleston. I decided it was time to take a chance and leave my job and dive into the bootcamp.

Tell me about your career path since graduating from The Iron Yard.

Almost immediately after graduating, I became a teaching assistant for TIY. About a month into that position, I got an offer as a software quality engineer at Blackbaud. After about 6 months into my career as an SQE, the definition of the role changed and I became a Software Engineer 1 at Blackbaud. I focus primarily on automation tests for our product, but also do some dev work for our public API project, Sky API.

Where would you like to be in 5 years? 10? more?

In 5 years, I’d love to still be at Blackbaud. I think it is a fantastic company and our product team for Financial Edge NXT is like a true family. In 10 years, I could still see myself at Blackbaud, but if things change, which they often do, I could see myself in a teaching position for TIY.

What advice would you give to potential students considering The Iron Yard?

Do anything optional, and do as much as you can on your own. Instructors are a fantastic resource for learning something new, but you will always be learning. It’s more important to know how to learn than to actually know the subject. StackOverflow is your best friend. Do not be afraid of other languages. A lot of object oriented languages translate well into each other. Ask questions.

What surprised you most about attending The Iron Yard?

The team environment. It’s been just a year since I graduated and I’ve kept in touch with several of my classmates, especially those I worked with on a group project. The hands-on-ness of the course. I was able to go directly to my instructor and discuss pros and cons of certain code, and could always ask a question if I was stuck. My instructor was available almost 24/7.<

How do you stay up-to-date with programming techniques?

Mainly through work. My team lead at work is constantly thinking out loud and redesigning things at work. It really comes from conversations with other coworkers.

What else should we know about you?

I have been told I am the physical embodiment of imposter syndrome. The harshest judge of my work is myself. I will constantly doubt my abilities at work, but as I approach my 1 year anniversary of working in the tech industry I will say that the feelings of doubt are still present, but I’m much more confident in myself in terms of overcoming a new problem.


  1. Great write up! We love Doug!

  2. Doug is a cool dude, I work on his team!

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