By Sarah June FischerJuly 29, 2016

Meet Bion: Chocolatier Turned Software Developer

Bion Johnson had been a hobbyist audio programmer for years when friends encouraged him to pursue programming as a career. He decided to take a chance with Code Fellows and enrolled in the second course we ran after launching in 2013. He used his time in the course to start a successful career as a software developer, and now shares his advice for others who are joining the industry.

Bion Johnson
Image source: LinkedIn

What were you doing before you started at Code Fellows?

I had gotten back from a couple years living abroad and was working at Theo Chocolate in Fremont, making chocolate and doing some occasional freelance translating.

Why did you decide to apply to Code Fellows and why Ruby on Rails specifically?

Several friends thought it wouldn’t be such a stretch for me to turn my computer music programming experience into a professional programming career. Evidently the instructors were thinking the same thing. The job-offer guarantee also helped convince me to apply. When I took the class in May of 2013, Rails was the only class being offered.

Tell us about your time in the course. What were the highs and lows?

It was a pressure cooker. I was programming every day for 14-18 hours. Most days I tried to at least get a walk in to keep from feeling completely gross, but it was definitely a high-intensity, go-for-broke learning environment. The highs were having excellent instructors and classmates as driven as I was; the lows were the lack of sleep and uncertainty about whether or not it would all work out.

What was the hardest part for you?

Not getting anxious about how much I didn’t know.

Was the course what you expected?

I suppose so. It was only the second class at that point so I’m not sure anyone knew quite what to expect.

In what ways did your background help you?

At that point I had been programming for six years or so as a hobbyist, mostly in an audio programming language called SuperCollider. I’m also stubborn.

What are some of the projects you created?

My buddy and I made a site for performing artists to review the venues at which they had performed. At the end of class we had it deployed on AWS and flaunting what we at the time thought were some fancy features like single sign on with Twitter and search backed by Solr.

What are you up to now?

I work as a software engineer at Citizen Code. We’re small but mighty.

Any advice for future students?

Code every day until you get your first job. Know your tools: Git, the shell, your text editor, etc. Learn how to write unit tests. Be open towards colleagues who don’t share your gender, race, sexual orientation, or educational background—bigotry is unfortunately a bigger problem in this industry than many others, but we’re working on it.


Want to know more about the student experience at Code Fellows? Read the stories and advice of other Code Fellows grads.