How One Alum Followed His Dreams and Became a Software Engineer

Posted by Flatiron School  /  January 30, 2019

At Flatiron School, our success is our students’ success_ — when students get jobs, we achieve our mission of enabling the pursuit of a better life through education. But, students’ stories don’t end after they graduate. In this series, we chat with Flatiron School’s alumni community about their journey into coding, and how that journey transformed their life.

Pablo A. was working toward a bachelor’s degree in computer science while working in an I.T Support Role. However, during his spare time, he would teach himself JavaScript using many different resources. While at the University of Houston, Pablo wanted to turn his informal programming education into a more formal experience. A friend suggested Flatiron School and Pablo was really impressed with the coding bootcamp’s reputation after doing some research. He created a new goal to finish the pre-bootcamp work and earn a Facebook Community Boost Scholarship.Pablo eventually achieved his goal and became a part of Flatiron School’s first Houston Software Engineering Immersive cohort. Pablo is now an Application Developer Engineer at National Oilwell Varco (NOV). He works with NOV’s industrial data platform and applies his modern tech skills in one of Houston’s largest industries.

In the interview below, you will learn how Pablo, a Flatiron School Houston graduate, supplemented his college education with a bootcamp and landed a tech job at a company that’s not a tech company. In the 21st Century, every company is, ultimately, a tech company.

College and a bootcamp

Pablo knew he wanted a career in tech. He was already programming at the University of Houston and on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science. However, his college education was not lining up with his ambition. “In college, we programmed using Python and C++,” said Pablo. “On my spare time I would find myself learning JavaScript using many different resources.”Even though Pablo was gaining computer science skills at a renowned institution, it did not fit his needs. He had a sense of what he wanted to do in the future and identified areas where he had to go beyond college to gain the skills for a career in tech. He told friends he wanted more practical experience and one friend recommend Flatiron School. Pablo researched Flatiron School and was impressed with student reviews and the bootcamp’s reputation. “A couple of days later I found out that Facebook was offering scholarships for the new Houston location,” said Pablo. “My goal became to finish the pre-boot camp work and to get accepted to the program under the Facebook Scholarship.”

Key takeaway → There are times when you need to find additional opportunities to gain new skills. If you find yourself following what you think is the correct path, but need additional training, don’t be afraid to seek it out.

Life after college

Pablo had a clear vision for what he wanted to do after college. “I was hoping to work as a software developer or as a software engineer,” said Pablo quite succinctly. He knew what he wanted and there was a clear path to that goal. That path is also one most of us are familiar with. Go to school, study a subject, get a degree in that field or a related field, and get a job.That road, of course, is not perfect. There are pros and cons to any educational experience. For Pablo, there was a slight disconnect between his education and how he learned. “I really enjoyed the conceptual challenges presented by a computer science degree,” said Pablo. “ However, since I was kid, I’ve always been more of a practical learner and I really wanted to work on real world applications to gain experience.”Pablo knew he was going to purse a tech career since he was a child. He loved computers as a child, took some basic web development courses and taught himself C++ and JavaScript. “I was the go-to guy for computer issues and basic websites for friends and family,” said Pablo.He juggled college, a job, and coding on his spare time before attending Flatiron School. He graduated college in May and wanted to gain more practical skills. “A friend introduced me to Flatiron and filled me in on the Facebook Scholarship partnership,” said Pablo. Pablo completed the Coding Bootcamp Prep, completed the interviews, and enrolled in Flatiron School by July.

Key takeaway → There’s no “better” educational experience. A bootcamp can be a good alternative, or opportunity to level up, that supplements your college education. Think about what you want to achieve with your education and how you learn to determine your next steps.

The Flatiron School experience

The best part of his experience was being a part of the Flatiron School culture. “You meet such wonderful people who really want to help you succeed and level up in your career,” Pablo said, noting how Flatiron trained its students to be a lifelong learners while staying highly motivated. Flatiron School also grouped him with other classmates who had shared goals, interests, and motivation. This sense of community was always there whenever he found himself struggling. “You’re part of a small cohort so you are able to build a very personal connection to your classmates and work together to complete the challenges,” said Pablo. Pablo quickly learned it was a normal part of the learning process and that he was not alone. In fact, he often found himself enjoying the challenges while developing the skills needed to attack his coding errors head on.

Key takeaway → A great environment will help you succeed. Think about the sense of community and try to determine if a bootcamp is a good cultural fit before you enroll.

An engineer at NOV

After 15 weeks at Flatiron School, Pablo is now an Application Developer Engineer at National Oilwell Varco (NOV). He works with NOV’s industrial data platform Max, which handles data from many sources such as land rigs, offshore rigs, equipment, and facilities. Using this data, oil companies can manage changeable components which are at high risk of failure using end-to-end predictive solution to foresee these failures.Ever since attending Flatiron School, Pablo has become an active lifelong learner. During his spare time, he is always actively seeking to improve his coding skills or learn new things to add to my toolbox. Last, but not least, his experience at Flatiron School allowed him to develop friendships with amazing people and he is now a part of a great community!