At 24, Jason McGinty made a bold move. He decided to quit flight school at the US Naval Academy, where he was training to become a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Navy. While he loved the “cool factor” of his job, he was disappointed by the sheer amount of rote memorization pilots are required to do. For example, if an engine blows out, the pilot has to remember what steps to take. Procedures vary for different aircraft and flight platforms, necessitating yet more memorization.
“I left flight school during advanced training because I decided it wasn’t the right path for me,” he says. “If you don’t enjoy learning something, you won’t like the actual job.”
It took several years for Jason to find a career path he could truly get behind. While earning a degree in systems engineering, he became interested in coding. After a couple of years as a production planner at a shipbuilding company, he decided to explore his former interests.
“I had dabbled in coding in my production planning job–using code to find ways to make my work more efficient,” he says. “But then I decided to go all the way with it.”
After completing Springboard’s Software Engineering Bootcamp, Jason landed a role as a full-stack systems engineer at at Technicity, an IT services company. He also runs a side business building websites for small businesses, called JM Web Development.
Technicity is a small company based in Columbus, Ohio. I got introduced to the CTO in a roundabout way. I just fill in wherever I’m needed. We have a few different clients. For example, we built a data management platform for a healthcare company. I do a lot of work on the server side and also the UI. We contract with Amazon to manage safety reports and hazard management for their automated warehouse systems.
It’s more laid-back than I thought it would be. I can get my work done whenever I want. Nobody looks over my shoulder. The interview process was very informal, too. I wasn’t expecting that.
For the better. In addition to working full-time at Technicity, I freelance on the side doing web development for small businesses. I’ve had a few clients over the last couple of years and now I want to push for more. I enjoy being able to live wherever I want.
My previous career was kind of monotonous and didn’t interest me all that much. It was just a paycheck. I definitely enjoy my work more than I did before.
The variety. For example, when I’m freelancing, the work depends on the type of client I work with. I’ve created a website for a physical therapy clinic, a gym owner who hosts a podcast, and a guy who does homestead consulting. My full-time job also offers variety because I’m a full-stack engineer.
All the projects I’ve landed have come through word of mouth. I tell people what I’m doing and they’ll refer to someone who needs a website. You must have a good-looking website, otherwise you won’t have much credibility.
My mentor was Jasmeet Singh [senior software engineer at HashiCorp]. We had a good working relationship the whole time. I still email him from time to time. I’ve gone to for career advice and he’s given very good advice.
Know people who know people. That's how I got my current job. I never had success with just filling out online applications. I landed a few interviews, but it didn’t go anywhere. Applying online felt like a waste of time because some of those jobs don’t even exist or could have been filled six months ago.
One of my acquaintances knew someone who owned a company. He put me in touch with him. His website looked like it hadn’t been updated since 2003. So I built him a new one real quick, put it up as a demo, sent it to him, and said, “I’m interested in a job. What can you do for me?” I’d given him proof of my skills.
He said, “I don’t have anything that fits your skillset, but I know this other entrepreneur I can put you in touch with.” That’s my current employer.
Probably the experience of doing the work. Figiuring out how to get your questions answered. Googling stuff is an important skill for developers. Learing how to do that during the bootcamp was super valuable because it’s an on-the-job skill. I also learned when to ask for help. My mentor was always there to answer questions if I needed him.