"Four or five months ago, I was delivering pizzas. Now I have a real job and a real impact in people’s lives.

Graduate Spotlight

From delivering stacks of pizza to becoming a full-stack web developer, CJ Whaley, 21, completely changed his career path in a matter of months.

“Four or five months ago, I was delivering pizzas,” he said. “Now I have a real job and a real impact in people’s lives. At the end of the day, I’m making someone’s life easier.”

CJ had studied computer information systems for a few years at Marietta College and Kent State. He’d known since high school that he wanted to work with computers, but college didn’t seem to provide the right outlet for his interests.

Fast, Efficient, Supportive

“I chose The Software Guild because it was a very fast and efficient way to get to what I wanted to do,” CJ said. “Every day at the Guild was fun. We learned how and why things work, not just how to code.”

During the 12-week full-time program, CJ opted to stay with three other people in the Guild instead of living at home. Living with people who had the same hard-working mindset really helped CJ keep his mind on the right track. It also helped that The Software Guild encourages community.

CJ enjoyed that Chief Academic Officer Eric Wise visited the coding bootcamp every Wednesday. “If you had a question for Eric, it needed to be a well-developed question,” CJ said. “Instead of just asking how to fix it, you needed to ask to be pointed in the right direction.”

Career Empowerment

Initially, CJ thought that The Software Guild’s employer network managers would secure a job placement for him. However, he found out that he was empowered to create his own career path, with support from the team. CJ found the mock interview preparation to be most helpful.

“While Matt LoPiccolo never gave me an exact answer, he always helped me find the answers that I needed,” said CJ, who was hired by Document Technology Systems. “Everything I learned transferred over to what I’m doing now. The core concepts you learn at the Guild are applicable to every single thing you’ll do.”

Looking to the Future

Since he likes solving puzzles, CJ always knew he wanted to be a developer. In the future, CJ dreams of being a consultant or teaching programming to high school students. He wants to share his love of development and work on different types of applications on the side.

“Most people draw a line in the sand for how far they’ll go to solve a problem,” CJ said. “Developers go as far as they can to solve a problem, and they use as many resources as they can.”

CJ’s biggest takeaway from the coding bootcamp was his connections to everyone in The Software Guild. He appreciated that everyone was there for one goal: helping someone else, whether through Java or .NET/C#.

“Not everyone is going to be the next Zuckerberg,” CJ said. “But if you can work together in a team, then everyone will want you. And The Software Guild did a phenomenal job of getting everyone to grasp that.”