Coding Temple Alumni Ryan Bacastow graduated college with a Political Science and Spanish Language degree and started working for the ECLAC but found that he wasn’t satisfied with this career path. He decided to enroll in Coding Temple’s 10-week Full Time Python bootcamp program and is now currently a Python data analyst at William Blair Global Investment Banking. Read on to learn about his experience at Coding Temple!
What were you up to before you went to Coding Temple?
By the time I graduated college with a degree in Political Science and Spanish Language I had already mapped out what my career would look like in public service: 5 years here, another 5 there, 10 years there, etc etc. With this vision in mind I began working a job at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean(ECLAC) doing research and translation for their Environmental Statistics dept. in Santiago, Chile. I was busily applying for my next gig in international and US institutions(UN, World Bank, State Dept, Intelligence outfits, etc) when I had something of a crisis about the nature of the work that lay ahead in this career path. None of it really satisfied my desire to create or solve problems. There was never a sense of seeing something through to total completion or seeing the fruits of my labor. All the goals for these institutions were more nebulous and harder to define. Very soft skills oriented, and as such, extremely political. It just seemed like a stultifying way to spend the best and most productive years of my life, so I decided to retool my skillsets entirely. I needed something that could satisfy three key requirements:
- The skill couldn’t require going far into debt to spend time wasting away at an academic institution.
- It would have to be something that really challenged me the way I enjoyed the challenge of learning foreign languages and allow me to be creative, so as to be rewarding personally.
- And it had to be something I could use to market myself here in my hometown of Chicago, a traditional finance oriented town.
Did you look at other programming bootcamps before deciding on Coding Temple? How did you finalize on Coding Temple?
What was the application process like?
It was serious which I felt good about. It felt like not just anyone could walk in the door and say ‘I’m a coder now’. Management was in contact with me and answered a lot of questions so that was helpful and ultimately the deciding factor in my opinion. All costs and questions like that were answered straightforwardly and without hesitation.
What stood out to you about the Python programming language?
Where to start? Open source, simple, elegant, powerful, and dare I say… sexy? Python is hot right now for a reason: it’s the most well curated and expansive open source programming language and you don’t need to understand difficult syntax to learn it. It’s a beginner’s dream. The drawbacks of Python are really part of the things that make it so appealing. By being elegant and having numerous powerful open source libraries to automate the boring parts of coding it’s sometimes harder to fully understand the programming process and appreciate the beauty of Pythons role in the programming landscape. The cure for that was of course walking across the hall to try my hand at C#, which was intimidatingly complex when I was starting out. In addition to that, python happens to be the lingua franca of the data-science and analysis world which was is where I wanted to end up. If you take a course in stats, programming for finance, or data analysis, chances are you will come across python as coursework these days. That’s a good sign for future job opportunities.
How was your in-class experience? How many people were in your cohort?
4 people and it was excellent. It was just the right amount of people that we could bounce ideas off each other, get feedback and support (I got so much help from my classmates), and even compete against one another in a productive and fun way. The instructor made sure it was a low pressure environment but wasn’t afraid to challenge us all individually and as a team whether that meant whiteboarding out problems from a tech interview handbook or simultaneously working to code a project together under a deadline.
What was a typical day like at Coding Temple?
Our cohort was full of commuters, like most I assume. It was a fairly regular schedule, where I would come in at 9:15, fill up a cup of coffee and a cup of water for the morning, plug in the laptop and go over the days homework/assignments as a class with everyone. Everyone was expected to contribute to the answers. Then it was lecture until lunchtime when we would usually all go down the block (River North is notorious for its boutique restaurants for the techies in the area) and grab a salad at Mixed Greens. It was a good way to get to know one another and the instructors and it was organic, we didn’t plan on that being a tradition or anything.
Who was your instructor? How was his teaching style?
What did you end up building for your capstone project?
I wanted to build an app about the sugar and carbohydrate content of food products because I think the average consumer has little idea of the amount of sugar in their everyday diet routines and the effects of sugar and refined carbohydrates on the human body (hint: they aren’t good) It was super empowering to be able to bring this idea to fruition as a fully functional tool for consumers and I hope to commercialize it at some point in the future.
Is there anything that you would like to see changed with the program?
How was learning at Coding Temple different from learning in college?
It’s more intense. There is no final exam, your life and career future is just around the corner and your final exam is how you present your work to recruiters and clients so everyone is aware that the stakes are high. The short period of time coupled with the recruiting process at the end of the course make it a good way to learn. Its real and it’s not like college, there won’t be another semester or another class or a summer vacation. It’s the big leagues.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during your bootcamp?
Did you do a lot of projects throughout the course?
Yes, but the best experiences and the most learning and attention came from working on the projects that were my own creations as opposed to the cookie cutter builds that one has to do at the outset in order to grasp the material. Altogether I can recall three major projects that I created and another 5 or six that were walkthroughs as a group.
Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about doing a coding bootcamp?
This is from a LinkedIn response that I sent to an inquiring potential student. (People can always feel free to contact me (besides Peter Yoon) at email@example.com):