Many different roads can lead to a career in technology, which is the case of Josh - a Chef turned Web Developer - who now combines both, his passion for Tech and his Culinary expertise. Learn more about his journey here.
Here is Josh’s story in his own words:
Life before Wyncode
Prior to Wyncode I was a professional Chef for 10 years. In 2008 I moved to Fort Lauderdale from Nashville, TN for culinary school. I started out as an aspiringPastry chef, but ended up landing my first restaurant job during my first semester as a Pasta cook at an Italian Fine Dining Restaurant.
After completing Culinary School, I took a trip to Chicago as I had aspired to work for a Michelin Star Chef. I dined at a cocktail lounge there called “The Aviary” which was owned, and operated by 3-star Michelin Chef Grant Achatz. I had asked to meet the Chef and was offered a trial to work there, and after a full day working there they offered me a job. After a year of keeping my head down pushing forward I was given the opportunity to start training to become a Sous Chef for the company. This was one of the biggest moments of my life until one night after weeks of constant pressure I had my very first panic attack. I was let go from the company that next morning which left me with an incredible amount of disdain for the Fine Dining community.
After this I tried the catering business, private cheffing, consulting, and eventually lead me to my first job working on a Yacht. At this point in my career I knew that I wanted to do something else, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My last Culinary Job was working on Private Yachts which provided me with enough funding to decide about what my next step was.
After quite a bit of research I decided that the Tech field was where I wanted to move into, and I’ve never looked back on that decision. The idea of working with a forward thinking community in a less stressful atmosphere is what initially sparked my interest in tech.
I heard about Wyncode by actually doing a search on google for Tech schools in South Florida. When I was trying to decide which one to check out I noticed that there was going to be a one day bootcamp on a Saturday morning to learn what Wyncode is all about.
I have a few favorite moments at Wyncode.
The absolute most memorable moment would have been during the weekend of week 2. We had just gone over HTML, and CSS. The project was to create a Mockup of a design we were given without using Bootstrap. I had one of the more challenging pages, and had 0 understanding of how to structure a page using HTML. One of my cohorts, Santiago, had around 5 years experience working with basic coding so he began trying to explain to me how it works. Around 2AM at Wynbase he was so frustrated that I couldn’t figure out how to build out <div> tags properly that he pulled out the whiteboard to begin drawing it out. The one line that we still to this day joke about is “You gotta put a <div> inside of a <div> inside of a <div>!!!!” For whatever reason prior to this day I did not understand how to structure HTML and CSS classes… but after Santiago graciously spent hours trying to explain it to me… it finally stuck. Truly a memorable bonding moment with a member of my cohort.
Another day that I will never forget is around week 9 after our project was nearing completion I came in early one morning and prepared pancakes for my entire cohort, the staff, and the cohort next to us. It was a lot of fun to share my passion for food with these new friends of mine, and it was the first time in years that I felt good to see the happiness on everyone’s face. It’s something that I lost an appreciation of during my years working in restaurants.
Probably the biggest thing that I really struggled with was the time management, and not allowing myself to get burnt out. It’s definitely tough to cram 10 weeks of information into your head. The thing that I wish I had heard from people in the industry… is that as a Jr you’re not expected to know how to code an entire application from start to finish. A lot of companies are looking to see how you think, and react to certain situations. I struggled with the mental aspect of things, but after making friends of a few Senior developers within the industry they helped to make things a little more practical in a sense.
There were plenty of moments where I wanted to give up, and I almost did several times. However I found these quotes in the bathroom to be really powerful. Coding is not something that can be deemed “easy” otherwise the industry wouldn’t have such a high demand for developers. It takes dedication, and a strong work ethic. Giving up is not something that you can think about. It takes a problem solver’s mindset to work through some of the obstacles that you will be faced with when learning how to code. It’s not gonna make sense at times, and things are going to happen that you will be mystified by. However the motto of “Never Stop Learning” is something that I really took to heart. I’m still fine tuning my craft as a developer, but I take an hour or two every day to teach myself something new or figure out a problem that I wasn’t able to figure out before. Sometimes it happens overnight, and for some (like myself) it can take a bit longer to grasp the concepts or logic behind programming. The best thing I did for myself was befriend as many developers within the industry as I possibly could. That way I could learn from their experiences, successes, and most importantly their failures.
Entering into a new field can be an extremely humbling experience. Going from being at the top of your game being able to pick up any cooking technique or craft beautifully plated dishes with ease to struggling how to write code that will iterate over a loop displaying information from a hash was not an easy pill to swallow. However despite the challenge I sought the support of the staff at Wyncode as well as my peers, and at the end of the 10 weeks I was extremely proud of myself. This can be a VERY rewarding industry if you put in the time to get to where you want to be.
Tips and Tricks:
The number 1 thing that I wish I had done before attending Wyncode was gain a better understanding of the base principles of coding. You have the ability to learn it all in the 10 weeks, but for me I wish I had not spent so much time caught up on the basics. It’s something that can be learned at home, and refined during your time at Wyncode. Knowing the basics of HTML, CSS.. and even how an Object Oriented Programming language works is extremely valuable.
The second thing that I did was network my face off. Networking is EXTREMELY important in this industry. When attending Wyncode I made sure to befriend all of the alumni walking through the doors to gain an understanding of what life is like post-wyncode, what they did to get a job, and how they felt about life after making a drastic career change. Perspective really can help some days when you’re feeling the burnout. It really helps to prepare you for the journey to come, and I’ve met some incredible people along the way.
The third thing I would like to note is that many of my peers did not really take a serious approach to “version control” aka Git/Github which caused them MAJOR problems when final project time came around. Some students in my experience really overlooked this part of the course, and I cannot stress how important this tool is when looking for a job. You put your future boss through any grief with a merge conflict, and you’ll be wishing you had paid better attention during that week in Wyncode!!!
Lastly… make sure you ask lots of questions! If you’re stuck on a problem sometimes learning how to formulate a question will help you to figure out a solution to the problem.
To those of you considering Wyncode - Attend one of their Intro classes or their Saturday Bootcamp. You’ll want to meet the staff, and get a feel for whether or not this is the bootcamp for you. I was sold within 10 minutes of meeting the owner Juha, and learning a brief history of the school. It is a truly special place, and looking back I wouldn’t have gone to any other bootcamp.
After completing the program I slept for 3 days straight. Ok ok in reality I showed up at Wynbase 9AM the following Monday to begin sending in my resume for jobs. When they tell you to apply to 100… apply to 200. After going on a few interviews I decided that I wanted to go into business for myself designing marketing websites for local businesses. I learned how to utilize Wordpress to accomplish this, picked up a little bit of graphic design skills, and gained a base knowledge of how to have a good SEO rank on google. For me I enjoy the marketing aspect, and creative side of things. So I went around town knocking on the doors of past restaurants I had worked with until I found my first client. Upon establishing my business I knew I needed a more professional atmosphere to work in other than my home (but let’s be honest here it’s rather dreamy working in your pajamas). I reached out to some people at Wyncode that pointed me to General Provision, a co-working space in Fort Lauderdale, and one year later I still have a desk rented out of this space. In the first year of opening my business, Chef Del’s Web Services, I gained around 12 clients. Learning how to interact with them, pull their ideas out of their heads, and apply it to their website has been even more of a challenge than coding itself. However I love what I do, and it’s an amazing feeling to see someone’s eyes light up when they see their vision on the screen. Recently I was approached by a friend of mine here at my office space who is a Lead Developer for a big time digital marketing agency that is looking to acquire my developing skills for a remote position which has been my goal since day 1, and I would have never been in this position without my education from Wyncode. Just remember - Never Stop Learning!!!!
As of now I spent a year Freelancing, and while it has its advantages.. I’m interested in learning how to work with a bigger team. I love collaborations, and working together as a unit. Eventually I want to be in a position where I can help others learn, and work through their coding issues. I love assessing someone’s abilities, and utilizing their strengths. I’m currently looking to be hired as a Remote Wordpress Developer currently, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this journey. The dream is to work remotely, and travel to all of the cities I wished I could have visited during my time as a young Chef! To me the fact that this kind of career is actually attainable is what I love about being a part of the Tech Industry.
A few Projects that I have completed:
|Restaurant Websites - www.valentinocucinaitaliana.com||www.onedooreast.com|
Fitness Instructor Victoria Posner (e-commerce site) - www.victoriaposner.com
|#1 Grower of Pumpkins and Watermelon in North America! - www.freyfarms.com||www.tsammajuice.com|
Media Company - www.dncmedia.co
|Most Recent Project||Private Jet Sales - www.skyaviationholdings.com|