Meet Tom Hollingshead, a Bellevue graduate who has gone from the Marine Corps to Coding Bootcamp

You will become more proficient at every task, and your innate skills will be manifested in real life. This is why the bar keeps rising for the next step. The core desire for evolution is constant, and respect, happiness and love are all irrevocably tied to this.
Tom Hollingshead, who is only 24 years old has had a very interesting career. From 2013 to 2017, he was an Avionics Technician in the US Marine Corps. He then became a Quality Assurance Representative for General Dynamics, a global aerospace and defense company.
Tom knew that he wanted to broaden his horizons in tech even after a successful start to his career. He realized that his GI Bill(r), benefits covered education and retraining so he decided to concentrate on technical training that would give a leg up the avionics sector.
I have received so many types of technical training that I knew I wanted to expand my horizons if I ever had to write a program.
Tom did what most people do when they search for information: Google it. He looked at a number of technical training programs before he found the 14-week Coding Dojo bootcamp.
Tom attended an Open House where he met with instructors as well as Shiraz Sultan, the local Program Achievement Manager. Tom was immediately impressed by the sense of community, depth of the curriculum and the high job placement rate of recent alumni. Tom decided to take the leap and enroll.
The Coding Dojo was different from other boot camps in that you are not just gone after graduation, but you’re still part of the community. It was almost like career services, with so many resources.
Tom was able to enroll with his GI Bill(r), benefits in a breeze. He just had to show his Certificate of Eligibility through his eBenefits portal, and voila!
Tom did initial research on computer programming terms and techniques to prepare for the bootcamp. He was determined to give it his best shot and his excitement and anxiety increased as the first day approached. He didn’t complete the pre-course work, which Tom regrets and he recommends that future bootcamp students avoid.
Tom felt the Imposter Syndrome, which is something many people experience when confronted with stressful situations. He expected to be able to handle the coding bootcamp easily because of his Marine Corps experience, but he felt that he wasn’t good enough as he began to tackle the curriculum. The program quickly took Tom to a “different type of [mental] optimization.” He learned how to keep moving forward, even when he was trailing, and the curriculum began to click. His understanding grew with the help of his instructors.
It was intense. I won’t lie, I was surrounded by great people who were so supportive. The instructors are amazing, incredible good. They are able to explain everything to you, and then they take it from… That helped me a lot.
Tom began to finish his algorithms and started using databases effectively. He also formed close friendships with his cohort mates, who helped him through difficult parts of the curriculum. As he felt more accomplished, his excitement was rekindled and his Imposter Syndrome began to fade.
Coding is not a skill that can be mastered by one person. It’s the most important thing that many people don’t know is that no one person is the greatest coder. Everyone had their own piece of the puzzle, which they were just throwing in because it was scary. I won’t lie. It was hard. It was hard, but we did it together. It was an amazing experience.
As Tom progressed through bootcamp, and graduation day approached he kept “attacking algorithms”, which increased his confidence level and felt more accomplished. Once he was able write clean, effective code and communicate with other developers peer to peer, he felt like a personal revolution was taking place. Tom describes this as becoming “tech-literate” and compares it to learning to read.
You will one day be able to read. It’s like learning to read. Then someone says, “Hey, we have all these books.” We need to understand what’s in the books. I was like, “Yeah! I can read books.” It’s sort of like that.
Tom was able to finish his degree and began his job search. Tom was not interested in pursuing a job as a developer, unlike many of his fellow classmates. He wanted to use his newfound programming skills to improve his skills in the avionics industry. Tom knew that his tech skills would expand the range of roles he could apply to. Tom got a job within a few months of graduating.

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