Coding is so hot right now. And Wyncode is one of the hottest options for learning how to do it here in Miami.
The intensive nine-week bootcamp is not a joke. Students have to quit their jobs and be ready to put in at least 10-hour days, often more, for the whole course, going from total n00bs at the outset to junior web developers by the end.
But it works. Here are testimonies from four Wyncode grads that will give you a taste of the life-changing decision they made when they enrolled.
Milad Zolnoor, Cohort 8
Zolnoor wasn’t sure what was next when he stumbled across an article about the Knight Foundation’s scholarship for Wyncode. He was majoring in sports and fitness at FIU and was on the pre-med track, but it didn’t feel like he was on the right path.
“I had just come back from living in Munich. I enrolled back into college, which wasn’t really what my heart wanted to do, but it was the safest move at the time,” he said.
Zolnoor applied for the scholarship. He didn’t get it, but his interest in coding was piqued — even though, by his own admission, “the most programming I had ever did was send an email.”
“It’s way bigger than programming. It’s creating things, making things that are tangible and useful. I played sports my whole life, and sports were my biggest outfits for creativity, but programming was an even bigger outlet. [I thought] ‘If I could make a career out of that, I’m winning on both sides’.”
But it was hard, really hard.
“You’re going to be humbled in this experience,” he said. The key to getting through the bootcamp is “never get too high, never get too low, and don’t ever, ever think for a second that you can’t do this. It can always be worse, it can always be harder.”
But it was also a lot of fun. His favorite part was the final weeks, when he and some classmates got to dig in on their final project: a video game based on their instructor. All their classmates thought Zolnoor and his friends were just goofing around and playing video games, and they were shocked when the project was unveiled at the final presentations.
He knew he wanted to work for BLUBETA, a software development shop, before the bootcamp wrapped, and he went after them with just as much single-mindedness as the coding.
“The company is full of people who believe in Miami and want to change Miami, especially in the tech scene. They want to remove the ego and add the personality,” he said. “I went to them straightforward, straight up. I want to work with you guys, you know what I’m capable of, you know what my potential and capacity could be.”
They knew that because they knew Wyncode and what it meant to be a graduate.
“I got my first mini project before I even started. I wanted the ability to work on things immediately and not necessarily know what I would work on. When I noticed no two days are the same, I was incredibly thrilled about that. That’s when I knew I made the right choice.”
Adriana Byles, Cohort 6
Mobile app developer, Dot
Byles was a marketing student at FIU on leave for health reasons when she first thought about getting into the tech world. Marketing was fun and she liked working in business, but she didn’t know what direction to take it.
“I was looking for a clearer path,” she said.
Her boyfriend at the time was a programmer and had built a mobile app based on one of her ideas — and she decided she wanted to learn how to do that herself.
She checked out Wyncode and another local bootcamp, as well as one in Atlanta, but she wanted to stay in Miami and she liked the feeling she got when she met with Wyncode’s admissions counselor — which remained true even after the work began.
“I had never coded before so it was quite difficult for me. It was very challenging and I had to put a lot of time and effort into it, which is what I expected to do,” she said. “It was a very grueling process but it was absolutely doable and I was able to get through it and I was very happy with the decision I made to go through it.”
Afterward, she went back and reviewed the concepts she learned in the bootcamp again and again until they stuck while picking up a few freelance web design projects on the side. Three months later, she landed her job with Dot, which seeks to streamline the process of using multiple apps by being a one-stop shop.
Today Adriana is building a mobile app for the company as well as working on marketing and project management.
“Every single person on the team carries a lot of weight for the overall projects, but I really like being in the startup environment. With what I’m doing now with Dot, I’m using a little bit of my marketing background, too,” she said.
She marvels at how quickly she was able to set her life on a new path.
“When I took a break from school, I was really just not really sure what was going to happen when I got healthy again… I couldn’t have been farther away from getting into this,” she said.
Javier Perez, Cohort 1
Perez was working for an investment fund here in Miami when he first heard about Wyncode. The bootcamp wasn’t supposed to be a career changer — it was just supposed to give him a new set of skills to use at the fund.
“My boss and I had a few ideas for a few apps to make our job easier. Himself and I thought it would be a good idea for me to learn something so that if we needed an app… [we could] explain exactly what we wanted or needed. That was the plan at the time.”
Back then, Wyncode was the only full-time bootcamp in the city. He wanted something hands-on, so the many online options were out.
He didn’t really know what to expect, and he was pleasantly surprised that by the end of the nine-week course he was able to build something, which had seemed like a huge leap at the beginning of the course.
At the end of Wyncode, he went back to his old job for three months, but it was no longer stimulating enough. He decided to become a full-time software engineer.
The hiring round for that first cohort was over, but the second cohort was underway. The Wyncode team hooked Perez up with one of the companies that was sending over projects for the students to work on.
He landed an interview as a junior web developer with the company whose project he picked up — the real estate crowdfunding platform EarlyShares.com. He does the back-end web development for them and Property.com, one of their other websites.
“I enjoy it a lot more. It’s more stimulating and usually I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to stand still,” he said.
David Isaza, Cohort 7
Developer, Studio UNI
Unlike many Wyncoders, Isaza already had a bit of a tech background when he started the course. He was working at a cell phone refurbishing company doing diagnostics and repair and had already completed some IT certifications.
But he wanted more than that and seeing his friends pick up coding put it on his radar.
He surveyed the options for learning in Miami, everything from online courses to other in-person programs, and settled on Wyncode.
“The environment, the culture, everything about it was very positive,” he said. Plus, he was impressed by its success rate — a 91 percent job placement rate.
“It’s nine weeks, but it’s a very complete nine weeks,” he said. “My favorite part was that it would cover it from the beginner’s level.”
To cover it all from the beginning, students work hard. By the end, they’re often working seven days a week and most evenings after class is over.
“The expectation the program had of you was very real world…It was built for you to invest the time,” he said.
Immediately after graduation he got a gig doing front-end development for an advertising agency, but today he and three others — two designers and another developer — are running their own company, called Studio UNI. They do everything from branding strategy to delivering finished web-based and mobile apps.
“When we all came together it was a match made in heaven,” he said.
He says Wyncode’s location in the LAB “helped put [him] in the right direction” because he was surrounded by entrepreneurs.
And when asked what he loves about coding now that’s he made it his career, he replies, “Everything! It’s a passion, it’s something that I get into and once I sit there, it’s challenging me. It’s always pushing the barriers of my brain.”