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June 1, 2020

My Life After a Coding Bootcamp: From Restaurant Manager to Web Developer

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education

I was working in restaurants for about 7 years before I came to Ironhack— that was my first job at 16.”  Today we interviewed Josh Alexy, one of our top-performing students in our coding bootcamp this past March at Ironhack Miami.

When he’s not mentoring students and delighting us with his culinary concoctions, Josh is our resident TA and works as a freelance web-developer. Here you can read his student review:

What were you doing before Ironhack

I was working in restaurants for about 7 years before I came to Ironhack— that was my first job at 16. I was a dishwasher originally, but I worked my way up to being a manager. It grew pretty tiring, so I decided to start attending college to major in software development, but after attending for a year, I realized it wasn’t for me and decided to come to Ironhack instead.

Why did you drop out of a traditional program to come toIronhack?

I had to take a lot of prerequisite courses and the one programming course I did take was old and outdated. Most of the classes I was required to take didn’t have that much to do with programming: speech, history, philosophy, religion—all cool classes, but when I took them it didn’t really contribute to my end goal.

Why Ironhack? Why did you move to Miami?

Since I lived in Pittsburgh, all the coding bootcamps I looked at were everywhere else, they were hours and hours away. Based on that information, I had to do some pretty good research before I picked one. The biggest thing was reading the Ironhack reviews and reaching out to students and asking them about their experiences. That’s the kind of transparency I was looking for, you know? I wanted physical proof that someone did this thing, learnt something from it, and did well there. In regards to Miami, location wasn’t really a point of interest for me. I didn’t know Miami was an up-and-coming tech city. The decision was on a personal level of me feeling comfortable enough to spend 8 weeks and a ton of money to be somewhere. I felt comfortable with Ironhack based on the information I could see.

What was the breaking point for you that made you decide to leave your job? Why did you choose to go into programming?

I never really viewed the restaurant industry as a career choice for me, it’s something that I just fell into. In regards to choosing coding, when I was 6 years old , my grandma used to be amazed at how fast I could enter cheat codes on the N64 and how adept I was at messing around with computers. Other than though, I didn’t really think of coding in particular. It’s not something I even knew I was going to like before I came here, but it had to do with technology and that’s what I was immediately interested in.


Did you hit any blocks on your coding journey? 

The main block was retaining anything or doing anything useful with what I was learning from Treehouse or Codecademy. I found it hard to retain information while not being in a classroom environment or not having any context on why I was doing what I was doing. That was probably the biggest roadblock.

There wasn’t a point where I could just take off and say “now I’m going to make an application with this”. I knew what a class was, I knew what a variable was, but it never really made a difference, I couldn’t build with it.

When you’re at Ironhack you actually build things, you actually apply what you are learning. With online mediums, you type out what they type out and then, 3 days later you go back to it and you”ve forgotten it.

What would your advice be to someone who is interested in a coding bootcamp, but doesn’t know where to start? 

It would depend on your technical level beforehand. As somebody whose been in the program and helped teach the program, I would say to start learning how to code to see if its something that you’re really interested in beforehand. Try out those things like Treehouse and Codecademy and give coding a shot first to see if there’s any interest, because you just might not be interested in coding at all. I would suggest coding bootcamp to everybody, but it’s a big commitment of time and money, so you really have to think it through and realize what you’re getting into. If you don’t like thinking, then definitely don’t come here. If you’re used to the academic memorization kinda thing, then a coding bootcamp is going to flip your educational experience upside down. It’s very different. You have to mentally prepare for that as well.

In your opinion, what makes a good developer? 

Hard work, and not having an ego. You have to realize you’re going to suck at something for a long time. As someone who is pretty much still a beginner at code in the grand scheme of things, I’ve realized that if you have an ego and beat yourself for up every little mistake, you’re going to have a really bad time in coding. Instead, focus on learning from your mistakes rather than losing your mind the first time you forget a semi colon!

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? 


Oooh, that sounds good. Music? 


What if you had to choose a superpower? 

Flying would be pretty cool…

What’s the next item on your bucket list? 

I”d like to travel to Dubai, but maybe Spain first, since Ironhack HQ is there!

Josh Alexy is a Teaching Assistant at Ironhack Miami and a Pittsburgh-born Steelers fan. 


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