The Path Less Traveled: The Story of Chicago Dojo Graduate Luis Salas
Find your passion if you don’t know what your purpose is. Your passion will guide you to your purpose.
–Bishop T.D. JakesHigh school graduates are beginning to consider their options as they approach the end of summer. Luis Salas was in a similar position shortly after he graduated from high school. He considered the best path to follow in his pursuit of a career. Luis thought that spending four years at a university to earn his degree was the best and easiest option. But, Luis didn’t believe it was the only option.
I felt that the college route was a bit too long before I actually got to learn programming. I also consider money because I don’t want to forget about my college friends who are in debt and haven’t started work yet. That was something I thought about all the time. I heard college bootcamps helped people get into their careers faster.
A host of options are available to high school graduates for their first steps towards the future: college, trade schools, the military, or the “backpack across Europe”. It is becoming increasingly popular to take a “gap years” between high school graduation and college. Gap years allow for personal development and planning, before jumping into higher education. It’s also a great time to learn new skills in a more relaxed environment, such as the Coding Dojo Gap Year Program.
Luis, who claims he “messed about” with open-source platforms such as Arduino and hardware such as Raspberry Pi, began taking free courses through an educational source online. He began to examine the bootcamp model and discovered that Coding Dojo was launching a new Chicago campus. After attending an open house, his interest grew.
It looked like a place I could spend eight hours a days in. It’s not what you want to be in a cubicle and not be able to chat with your friends in your stack. It was new and I was part of their first cohort made me feel like I was part of something. They still have my name on the wall as one the first black belts at the Dojo.
Luis was initially apprehensive about the seemingly complex skills required to become a proficient programmer and whether Coding Dojo would have the ability to prepare him in such short time. The one-on-one guidance provided by the Chicago staff and the progressive flow in the curriculum helped ease his worries.
I enjoyed the individual attention because it made me feel like I had to prepare for a big gap between what I knew and what they were going to teach me. It wasn’t true. They started at the bottom and worked their way up.
The Gap Year program offers prospective college students the opportunity to adjust to college’s accelerated culture and build a solid foundation of knowledge once they get there. Luis and his classmates were able to quickly get started with HTML. They had their own websites built within a week and earned their first yellow belt.
I felt super-accomplished. I passed the assessment. At first, I was unsure if three months is enough time to become a developer. But after the first week, it became clear that I was more than ready.
Luis and his fellow students relied upon each other to understand the subject matter as it became more complex. Luis’s pre-bootcamp exposure made it easier to help others with their problems.
This really helps us all to work through a problem together. I could talk to my colleagues and we could sort of assess the situation. “Why is this code not working?” What’s the problem?
Luis felt a sense of accomplishment after graduation, but he still felt unprepared to tackle the difficult task of finding a job that suited his new skills. This was mainly because he had never applied for a job before.
Luis, a young job seeker, was able to land his first job at AT&T in software development, updating and debugging code for customer service services. He is also a T