Bootcamp Grad Spotlight: Nathan Rathbun of Tech Elevator

Nathan knew he wanted to become a software developer, but needed something more intense than studying by himself. After looking into several different programs, Nathan decided on Tech Elevator after seeing the commitment they put into developing their students - both as coders and as career-ready graduates. Nathan graduated from Tech Elevator and landed a job as a Software Developer at a reputable software company in Cleveland.

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So tell me: Why did you decide to attend a bootcamp?

Nathan: “I knew I wanted to get into software development, but found self-study wasn't intensive enough for me. I knew I had to fully commit, so I opted to go for a bootcamp to get that total immersion. I wanted to live, eat and breathe code to really get myself going strong from the start.”

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What made you pick Tech Elevator over other bootcamps?

Nathan: “After deciding to pursue the bootcamp route, I investigated several different programs, both in Cleveland and also in Charlotte, NC. At the end of the day, no other program compared to Tech Elevator. I could tell they had put more thought and dedication into their program than the others I looked at. They were not just professional, but well supplied and most importantly well-connected with companies in Cleveland.”

What research did you do prior to committing to a program?

Nathan: “I looked at everything I could find. I went through the usual sites (Course Report, Quora, etc.) but I also did some personal sleuthing on LinkedIn and looked at actual graduates and their post-bootcamp life. That was one thing I really liked about Tech Elevator: I could tell their graduates were coming out of the program with more than just coding experience because they were able to successfully market themselves as software developers professionally.”

What is the one thing you wish you knew prior to attending Tech Elevator?

Nathan: “It’s important to create contacts and get to know more about potential employers from day one. Learning to code takes the full length of the program, but I saw the most successful students also learning about and talking to employers right from the start. Waiting until the end to start looking for a job isn’t the best plan of action.”

What advice would you give to a student looking to attend Tech Elevator?

Nathan: “Be prepared to dedicate yourself entirely to learning to code. Don't just do your assignments and reading, go above and beyond. Dive into personal projects, tinker with old code, rewrite what you’ve done in the past and watch everything you can on YouTube pertaining to what you're studying. Total immersion was a huge factor in the success I had at Tech Elevator. Don't plan on learning to code being a 'nights and weekends' type thing.”

Walk me through a day in the life as a Tech Elevator student!

Nathan: “I'd wake up and arrive early, usually an hour before class started. I'd pull up some small practice code I was working on, or a personal project and work on that until class started. My morning was generally lecture and new concepts followed by a break for lunch. I'd usually go out somewhere to give myself a brief time away from coding. Then in the afternoon I'd spend my time working on assignments implementing the ideas I'd learned in the morning. Around 4 or 5 I'd switch gears and work on my own personal programming projects, and then head home around six. I'd have dinner with my significant other, then cap off the evening reading, either assigned coursework or a book I'd been reading on the side about code. Sleep and repeat!”

What career services did you take advantage of while attending the bootcamp?

Nathan: “I basically lived in our Career Assistance Director's office. I was constantly talking to people about new and different companies, doing investigations of their backgrounds and comparing results. I would get on LinkedIn and talk with people I met at local meetups or networking events. I also would talk with my teachers and made a few contacts through them, including the one that eventually led to my job after graduation.”

Congrats on your new job! So how did you find it, and what do you do now?

Nathan: “I had heard of a Cleveland software company that sounded really great, but didn't know anyone I could talk to there to learn more. I noticed one of my teachers was a connection to one of the employees and he put me in touch with someone. A week later I was visiting their office, and another week after that I had an offer. It happened so quickly, but was a perfect example of being in the right place at the right time with the right connections.”

Skills Fund’s partner Tech Elevator equips students with the skills required to get them where they want to be. Looking for a career in web development? Explore their website and take a short aptitude test here, and learn more about our partnership here.