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Meet Caleb: From Tech Management to Software Design Engineer

Meet Caleb Wells! He wanted a career in tech but wasn’t sure if coding was for him. After pursuing his education at Code Fellows, he was hired as a Software Design Engineer at Alaska Airlines. Read how he changed his career potential in just five months!

How did you first find out about Code Fellows?

I had always thought I would get into a career that had something to do with technology, but I wasn’t sure if I could write code for a living. Over the course of one to two years before I attended Code Fellows, I had done a little bit of research on what it would take. Going to college was viable, but I hadn’t reached the age where the state would let me count as a non-dependant to my parents. I finally settled on going to Code Fellows when I discussed it with a friend who had taken a 101 at Code Fellows, and he recommended it.

What courses did you take?

I took the 201/301/401 JavaScript courses.

What were you doing before applying enrolling?

I was in management. I had a small team of technicians based in downtown Seattle. We worked on a small division of a large manufacturing company, and provided lower level support in a face-to-face office.

Why did you decide to come to Code Fellows over other options?

After recommendations from another friend, and the proximity of the campus, it seemed the perfect option.

What was your favorite part of your time on campus? Favorite project?

There were lots of good times during the courses. I enjoyed making a portfolio page during 301, and probably most of all the API midterm during 401.

How did working as a teaching assistant affect your understanding of coding?

Well, even if you absorbed more than the average student during your time in class, you’re still going to have a ton of information piled up in your head. Going back and being a TA is great because it lets you see where you started, and have a larger appreciation for what you learned, and how far you’ve come. You’ll really appreciate things, and you’ll recall the things you forgot, or that you always meant to go back over, but didn’t until a student needed help with it. It’s overall a good experience that I recommend to every student.

You received a scholarship to attend Code Fellows—how did you feel as a Diversity Scholarship recipient, and how did it affect your career change?

I wouldn’t have been able to go to Code Fellows without the scholarship. It’s daunting to think about the amount of time you need to devote to learning all of this new information, and not many people can afford to do it without help.

Tell us about your new job!

At Alaska Airlines, I work on the eCommerce Checkout Team. We own a lot of the interface required for purchasing tickets and finalizing trip plans. Alaska uses many different technologies, but I primarily work with C#, and the .Net stack now.

So you had to learn two technologies that you didn’t study at all on campus—how was that process?

Ongoing. It’s not easy going from something like JavaScript to a strongly typed language. You’ll have to worry about type conversion, since it’s not doing these things for you under the hood. In other respects, it’s just like anything else. Read the docs, use the same type of thinking, translated into a different language’s syntax.

What does a typical day look like?

We have morning stand-up at 9 a.m. and work on getting set for our coding sessions that we do in the morning and in the afternoon after lunch. We normally plan out two-week sprints, and review our stories as a team and estimate complexity before we start tasks.

In what ways did your education at Code Fellows (technical or soft skills) help you in your current job?

After Code Fellows, I’m ready to deal with a large gamut of industry practices. We get introduced to source control (Git flow) and Agile methodology, and experience working in a development team to mob/pair program, to name a few.

How did your previous work experience help you as you learned to code, and now as you start your new role?

In my work before Code Fellows, I worked in an environment full of escalated clientele (there’s no good time for your technology to fail), and I worked in troubleshooting for years as a technician myself, before moving to management. You have to be in a problem-solving mindset to accomplish the job.

Any advice for someone else starting to learn to code?

If you’re considering this career, be diligent about your study, and have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to break code. Commit your working code after every step forward! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your colleagues are there for you!

If someone was considering attending Code Fellows, what would you tell them?

It’s hard, you’ll struggle, but it’s worth it. If you love technology and believe developing software is for you, Code Fellows is the place to learn how.


Thanks for sharing your experience, Caleb! If you’re interested in pursuing a career in tech, check out the route that Caleb took. Learn about our program »

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