How I got into programming


Kid Stuff

I grew up as a kid with interests all over the map. My dad, an engineer for Verizon, would bring home electrical wiring for us to play with. I was equally likely to be shadowing him on electrical wiring, or making sculptures out of it. I grew up making art with KidPix, playing chess with my dad, and doing a ton of things that allowed me to build stuff and create beauty.


People may be surprised by this since recruiters sometimes have a reputation for not understanding technology. That was not me. In fact, I got really nerdy into DoD cybersecurity stuff. I can speak almost entire paragraphs in Department of Defense acronyms. (But don't worry, I won't - my friends tell me its insufferable.) Eventually though, I'd gone too far over to the dark side, tech wise.

Decision Time

As I said, it got to a point where I was too technical to be a recruiter anymore. What to do? I entered a full stack immmersive bootcamp program for nearly four months of intensive training.

Although all my family and connections were in DC, I decided to make a change. Realizing I would hit the reset button and start my career programming as 'entry level', I wanted an affordable city where any financial impact would be minimized. After doing some research, Raleigh it was. (And I ended up loving it here!)

The Bootcamp

I am not going to be one of those people who tell you how much fun bootcamps are. I signed up for one in the midst of my 300+ mile move to Raleigh, which was beyond exhausting. It was also the first course of its type done remotely, and implementing the curriculum was bumpy at times.

It was hard! Really hard. But so worth it. This line of work is like catnip to people who get bored easily. I was surprised that I had pretty good instincts, and chagrinned that I had such rookie execution. (At first I was a total syntax goon. Linters couldn't help me at first.)

The Job Hunt

I expected some raised eyebrows from employers. Whats a bootcamp? Doesn't it sound too good to be true? How much do these people reeeeally know?

There was definitely some of that. However I'll compare it to hiring an entry level person from someone who interned with your company and received about four months of targeted occupational training. I did every code challenge I received. (Fibonacci, anyone?) It was a fun, albeit terrifying time.

I job hunted forty hours a week, and every weekend I tried a new tutorial or to churn a new app out with Ruby or some of the things I felt more steady handed with. The things I studied that I didn't learn from bootcamp include PHP, Wordpress, SQL, Java, React, Angular, Python, and Sass/Less. I also continued doing another part time JavaScript course through General Assembly that covered basic JSON as well as jQuery.

The First Gig

For the past couple of months, I've been working at a prominent non profit research institute here in Raleigh. Through pure luck I ended up having a commute that tops out at 15 minutes. (Most days I run home at lunch to let my puppies out and get back to work with time to spare.) My boss is very transparent, relaxed, and supportive. My coworkers are entertaining, well informed, and all-around wonderful.

My favorite thing is getting to work early. RTI (My work) is housed in a sprawling campus called Research Triangle Park, surrounded by tall pines. Each morning I walk towards the staid building I work in, which is entirely unglamorous, and feel how Harry Potter must have felt returning to Hogwarts each year. I guess what made me originally think of that metaphor (which isn't terribly creative, I admit) I had the thought that it feels like I get to go to work and do magic every day.

Althought I'm happily off the job market, I keep this site up for my projects. I suppose the reason anyone else should use it would be to enlist help for code related volunteering activities. Thanks for reading :)

Get in touch

To not make it any easier for the webscrapers, you can drop me a line at 'jt' += 'kaufman' += '737' += ''