Tristram Jones: Retail to Software Engineering

Tristram Jones

“It made all the difference to be surrounded by other individuals as motivated, bright, and desperate as I was to make such a drastic career pivot.”

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Tristram Jones, an October 2018 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, began his career in sports retail before pivoting into tech for better opportunities. 

He shares his journey from Retail to Software Engineering below. 


A Michigan native turned Utah transplant and self-professed mountain lover, Tristram’s early career reflected that of somebody who loves to be active. After earning a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, he worked at a running specialty store for 5 years. It was there that he first started to dabble in development. 

“While I was there I used Wix to help maintain the shop’s website. I eventually left the store and took my Wix skills to work for a digital marketing company,” he said. “We built cheap websites using templates and were forbidden from using custom CSS. The work was stressful and the websites weren’t great but I got a small glimpse into web development.” 

After 2 years at the digital marketing company, Tristram decided to move on to bigger and better things. To do that though, he’d need to expand and polish his skill set. 

“I wanted to learn more, and my pay was terrible,” he explained. “So I quit and enrolled in Flatiron.”

Deciding On Flatiron School

Tristram was committed to switching into Software Engineering, drawn by several very valid factors. 

“The higher compensation, temporal flexibility, and the ability to build things were all reasons I was drawn to the field.”

As for his decision to go the bootcamp route to grow his Software Engineering skills, as opposed to a traditional university, Tristram cites the support of trusted friends. 

“I have two friends that had gone to coding bootcamps in 2013 and pushed me to do the same. I needed the confidence to commit and [they] helped me see that I could be a good Software Engineer.” 

Although Tristram applied to several bootcamp programs, he says that Flatiron School was ultimately his first choice. 

“Flatiron School’s curriculum aligned with what I wanted to learn. I knew my aptitudes and interests aligned more with front end development and I hoped to gain a good grasp of React, ” he explained. “Flatiron was my top choice and, gratefully, I was admitted.”

Bootcamp Experience

Tristram enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time Fullstack Web Development* program in July 2018. Joined by a cohort of other learners, he committed to studying 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday, at the school’s flagship campus in New York City. The transition into full-time studies, Tristram recalled, was abrupt. 

“I didn’t have time to complete all the pre-work and only had a very small base of knowledge before starting,” he said. “That made the curriculum much harder to master at such a fast pace.”

Despite a bumpy beginning, by the end of the program Tristram had built upon his initial interest with a new suite of development skills – supported by classmates and instructors throughout the course’s 15 weeks.

“I loved the final few weeks when we built our capstone piece. I loved the freedom to build, learn, and work through problems. But, my favorite part of the program was the people,” he said. “It made all the difference to be surrounded by other individuals as motivated, bright, and desperate as I was to make such a drastic career pivot. The instructors, I often say, were more talented in the art of teaching than my professors in college.”

Job Search

Tristram graduated from Flatiron School in October 2018 and jumped straight into the job search, focusing primarily on making connections. 

“I felt like networking in my area was the best way to land a job,” he said. “I messaged software engineers on LinkedIn and asked to meet them for lunch. One engineer recommended I join a public Slack workspace for JavaScript developers.”

It was through that recommendation that Tristram ultimately landed his first professional Software Engineer position. 

“The workspace had channels for different topics including meetups and job postings. I went to those meetups and applied to all job postings. I ended up getting a job at a startup that posted on that channel. They didn’t want to deal with the hundreds of applications they would have gotten if they had posted on a big job board.”

Working In The Field

When we spoke with Tristram in July 2023, he was currently working as a Senior Software Engineer at Vizient. Almost 5 years out from graduation, he says that he is loving his new career. 

“Reality is even better than I had imagined, I love what I do. I build things all day with almost absolute autonomy and never work weekends. I work from home, have a really cool team, and feel like I make a difference in my field.”

His advice for other Flatiron School students hoping to pursue a similar path is to focus on acquiring knowledge and skills. 

“LEARN! Read the docs first, then look for answers. Be humble and question your assumptions. And when you’re looking for a job,” he added, “prove that you know more than is likely assumed.” 

Reflecting on where he began his journey, Tristram’s thoughts center on the importance of pushing yourself past what you think is possible. Much like summiting a mountain, the hardest part of the climb is often simply believing you can make it to the top.

“I’m most proud of the moments when I took on a project that seemed beyond my abilities and pushed through my doubts to find success. Those stories remind me to trust my resilience more than my doubts.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Tristram Jones?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Tristram Jones in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Software Engineering Prep. Or, review the Software Engineering Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

*Fullstack Web Development program is no longer available. For prospective students interested in this course of study, visit the Software Engineering course page to learn more.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of August 23, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Anna Van Deusen

Anna Van Deusen is the Marketing Content Manager at Flatiron School. When not writing about tech and Flatiron School students, she can be found hanging out with her dogs on a beach…

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