After graduating during the height of the pandemic, Bryce Dunn began to reevaluate his career path. He had just completed a degree in religious studies and wanted to pursue a career in academia with the end goal of earning a PhD and becoming a tenured professor, but with college campuses shuttering and in-person programs going online, Bryce decided to rethink his ambitions.
Initially, he enrolled in Springboard's Software Engineering Career Track to pass the time and to get an in-between job until he could pursue his original ambitions in academia. But since starting a new role as an associate software engineer at Egen, a company that builds cloud-native data platforms that power data and analytics solutions, Bryce says he has fallen in love with the industry and can picture himself working as a programmer long-term.
“I loved being able to spend nine months immersing myself in this new topic, falling in love with all these new concepts, techniques, skills and technologies was incredible,” says Bryce. “The ability to do that at my own pace without having to enroll in another four-year college was a huge gift to me, and I'm super thankful for it.”
I have a few friends who work in the software industry, and after talking to them I felt it was something I could succeed at because I liked the problem-solving and creativity aspects of it. I researched a bunch of bootcamps, settled on Springboard, studied for nine months and landed a new job two months later, which is still kind of crazy to me.
I'm passionate about biblical studies, theology, religious studies–that whole world. I’m definitely a history, theology, and language nerd. My original plan was to advance my knowledge in that field by going to grad school and getting a Phd. But going to graduate school right after earning my bachelor’s wasn’t possible financially.
There are some skills like research, being detail-oriented, collecting and presenting information which are transferable to almost any field, but certainly when it comes to client-facing roles in software.
I’m really enjoying my new role. Egen helps launch startups that don’t have the technical expertise to fully launch a project. We also work with big companies that need an overhaul of their current product. They might have a system that is outdated and no longer keeping up with modern tech standards, so Egen helps modernize these companies.
The tech stack that I'm using right now is Angular, whereas Springboard taught us how to use React as a front-end framework. All front-end frameworks help you accomplish similar tasks, but at the end of the day, it's a different technology, so I've had to go from zero to 100 in Angular to catch up.
Springboard teaches you how to think like a software engineer, rather than focusing on the 10 steps to get a certain process done. You will struggle if you just memorize the steps without understanding the underlying logic.
I connected with a few former Springboarders in my hometown in Kansas and chatted with them about their experience. That was pretty impactful, because if you’re unfamiliar with how bootcamps work, the idea that you can learn how to do something in just a few months is very unsettling–especially if you have a traditional mindset that you need a four-year degree.
Another thing that sold it for me was that the course was taught by Colt Steele [acclaimed Udemy instructor]. He is a fantastic human being. He's so good at teaching and explaining things and communicating difficult concepts, and that’s when I decided Springboard would be the best bootcamp for me.
Yes. I started by taking the Software Engineering Career Track Prep course before I enrolled in the full course because I had very little knowledge of software development. I took an intro to coding class in high school but I had forgotten most of it. During the prep course, I really connected with the material.
Online learning also worked really well for the way my brain thinks and the way I understand things. I found the course content pretty easy to understand and I liked being able to study at my own pace.
The TA support is fantastic. One of my favorite things about Springboard is the ability to reach out to someone and ask questions. The TAs were super available even outside of business hours. Of course, I also had weekly calls with my mentor, Paul Kim [software development manager at Amazon], to discuss the big picture–how I’m doing in the course, understanding the broader concepts of computer science, and planning my capstone project. It was super helpful.
We had a really good relationship. He took a somewhat laissez-faire approach with me and we kept our meetings short, but it worked for us. I didn't have tons of nitpicky help questions. If I did, I directed those questions to the TAs. Our mentor calls were more focused on discussing the tech industry, how the technology is evolving, and what it means to be a good software engineer. So we focused on the higher-level questions rather than the technology-specific ones.
We discussed the push in the industry towards machine learning, automation, and AI. Eventually, the technology will move towards these massively integrated systems and computers doing more of the work for us.
Another thing Paul taught me was don’t start coding something until you understand how to do it. He said that a lot of junior software engineers just push through and rewrite code until it works, but that’s not high-quality code. It’s not well-tested and there are probably hidden bugs somewhere. Slow down and think about how you’re going to write the code before actually jumping into it.
I decided to build a project that would help solve a problem for my mom. She is the director of music therapy at the University of Kansas, and the school has a giant closet full of musical instruments, as you might expect. But they don’t have a way of tracking inventory to see if students checked out a musical instrument, and there’s no reservation system.
So I created an inventory management and reservation system. My project focused on instruments used for music therapy, but the technology behind it could be used for libraries or rental cars or any items, really.
I actually ran into an issue with multiple clients trying to access the same instrument at the same time, and so I had to learn about distributed lock systems and how to implement those, which is not in the course content at all, but this project is meant to teach you how to solve real-world problems.
She messed around with it a little bit, but it was probably overkill. It was more of an inspiration point for me, and I knew it would be a good example to put a lot of things I had learned into practice.