Zach has always been a numbers guy. For the past four years, he worked at Amazon in southern California and opened a fulfillment center, working as a collator running the numbers for the opps team. It was his responsibility to look at headcount for the staff in the building, analyze the number of packages per category (S, M, L or XL) that had to be shipped that day, and run the numbers to put together a battle plan to get those packages out the door that day.
“What brought me into programming was that within a year of being a collator, I built three Excel macros that would basically do my job for me,” Zach said. “I thought maybe I should give programming a shot.”
For Zach, the tipping point came at the beginning of 2016 when he and his girlfriend started planning their future – getting married, buying a house – and he wanted a job that could support their life together. He began looking at online coding resources and thought, “I can do this,” and started putting a plan in motion.
Zach took a job and moved back to stay with his parents in Indianapolis. Every penny he made, he saved up to attend the Back-End Engineering with Ruby on Rails cohort that began at The Iron Yard in Indianapolis that September.
“I did the pre-work before my cohort and was confident,” Zach said of his experience at The Iron Yard. “But by week 4 or 5, I had a breakdown. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and lost sight of why I was doing this. But freak out aside I got through it and learned so much.”
On top of the great relationship Zach built with his instructor, Chris Vannoy, he used his past managerial experience to rally his cohort together to work was a team. “By week 4 we called it Voltron,” Zach explained. “Anytime anyone was stuck or needed a review, as a class, we’d all go back into the classroom to get a mini lecture. Different people from our cohort would lead it and we worked as a unit. Explaining the concepts we had just been taught to others really helped all of us.”
After graduating in December, Zach has started a job at Springbuk, an Indianapolis-based health analytics company, as an apprentice engineer. “It has been great so far,” Zach said. “I am contributing to the team heavily. The first couple of weeks were getting to know people, learning the code base, but now I have gotten three stories completed on the code base and am working on another. They’re pretty big features so I’m proud of what I’m contributing.”
In the future, Zach is working to become a senior developer and possibly lead a team. “In my life prior to The Iron Yard at Amazon, I had math experience and management experience that will come in handy when the time comes.”
As far as the advice Zach has for others who are looking into code school, “I would say don’t be scared to ask questions and bring your fellow compatriots together to get through the assignments. You put yourself at at a disadvantage hoarding secrets and not helping each other. I learned by teaching and doing.”