Michael Johnson, 32, has always stayed true to his Kentucky roots. Raised in Louisville, he completed all of his education in the Bluegrass state, earning his bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Kentucky in Lexington and then a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in his hometown.
Johnson had no desire to leave his beloved Louisville. But something was missing.
“I’m glad I had a master’s but I needed a career,” Johnson said. It would be in the dynamic and booming tech industry where he would find what he was looking for. Now, he’s a Software Guild graduate who completed the 12-week coding bootcamp in the Java cohort.
Johnson was working at online education provider The Learning House, Inc., as an enrollment counselor for college students. He was moving up the ladder at Learning House when he heard about the Guild, which was opening a coding bootcamp in Louisville. “I had never even thought about coding until January 2016,” Johnson said.
Supported by his wife and motivated by their desire to start a family, Johnson took a leap of faith. His first step was to buy a book called Teach Yourself Java in 24 Hours.
He quickly realized, however, that he needed more than a book. “Books can’t respond to your questions,” Johnson said. The required pre-work for the Guild introduced him to a chat room of instructors and other students.
Johnson started asking for more and more help, although there were times he was “frustrated by what I couldn’t do on my own,” Johnson said. “But whenever I asked for help, I got it.”
During the class portion of the coding bootcamp, Johnson was surprised by the deep level of learning. By the halfway point, Johnson was learning “fairly extensive workings of the internet,” including cybersecurity and other fundamentals. He gives credit to instructor Austyn Hill for bringing her knowledge and expertise to her students.
“I felt very fortunate that we had such a great teacher that cared for us a lot,” Johnson said. “It was a small class, and everyone was smart, capable and engaged. And we had a lot of fun too.”
Johnson believes that individuals who apply themselves will be successful at the Guild. However, the fast pace can be challenging at times. Johnson compared it to “sprinting in the middle of a marathon.”
“From day one, you realize how much you don’t know, and your self-esteem just plummets,” Johnson said. “But you build back up faster than you crashed and by the end you say to yourself, hey I’m the real deal.”
More than coding was taught at the Guild. He learned how to craft a resume, improve a LinkedIn profile and prepare for job interviews. By the end of the program, Johnson felt well-prepared to begin a career as a software developer. Not only did he learn fundamentals, he practiced soft skills and honed his self-learning ability, which will enable him to continue growing as a developer.
“I really started to believe I knew what I was doing and that I could contribute to a team,” he said.
At graduation time, Johnson landed a job as a software developer for the Army’s human resources department at nearby Fort Knox at a salary nearly double what it was previously.
“They advertise the ‘family’ Guild feel and that certainly holds true for sure,” Johnson said. “The program was definitely worth it.”
The Software Guild is owned by The Learning House