Written by Jocelyn Caster on 7th February 2017, 11:12 AM
Wyncode has just become the only coding bootcamp in Florida to accept the GI Bill™, allowing veterans to fully fund their education. In honor of this momentous occasion, we decided to interview one of our graduates, Carlos Ramos, who is a veteran and now a successful computer programmer. Carlos spent several years on the ground as a soldier and then behind the scenes as a Network Infrastructure Specialist and Systems Engineer.
His advice to fellow veterans? Many of the skills you learn on the job in the military set you up for a lucrative career in software development! Read more to find out about Carlos’ journey from soldier to full-stack developer.
Jocelyn: Thank you so much for your service. What are the top skills you took away from so many years in the military?
Carlos: Of the skills I learned in the military, the ability to work in a team has proven extremely valuable. A well honed team with the right people can accomplish incredible things. I also learned to be resourceful. Even the best laid out plans have a tendency to not work out, so my team and I had to improvise constantly.
On the technical side, I learned to look at information systems as a whole, rather than individual pieces. Before joining the military I had a very fragmented view of networks. I knew servers and I knew networking equipment, but I wasn’t very clear on how it all fit together to provide services to the consumer. I gained that knowledge while working in Special Operations Commands. Special Ops communications teams tend to be small, so I learned to work on everything out of necessity: laptops, switches, routers, VoIP, VTC, encryption devices, TCP accelerators, servers, NAS, satellite systems, radios, etc. After a few years of doing that, I really understood how the entire infrastructure works, both on the local and the remote side.
Jocelyn: How has your experience in high-pressure military environments shaped your career as a Developer?
Carlos: Working in high-pressure environments made me resilient and adaptable. Those traits are necessary in Web Development, especially at a small company like the one I work for. Priorities shift regularly, and usually with very short timelines. Plus, there’s always a sense of urgency when adding features to the web sites, since they generate revenue. The ability to react to change quickly and without freaking out has definitely helped me in my job.
“Working in high-pressure environments made me resilient and adaptable. Those traits are necessary in Web Development.”
J: What made you decide to take the leap and join Wyncode?
C: I did a lot of research on Wyncode before I joined. They had great reviews, and everyone that I interacted with during my calls was very nice. The curriculum looked solid. I liked the fact that they introduced Agile methodology, brought in guest speakers and were really connected to the local tech scene. They seemed to truly care about developing the local tech talent, and that resonated with me.
J: What have been the biggest lifestyle changes in your new role as Full-Stack Developer?
C: Well, I have a regular nine to five now, which is a far cry from being overseas on deployments for months at a time. It’s nice! I go in in the morning, we have our meeting and then we get to work. The work is hard and can be mentally draining, but I get to go home at the end of the day, which I don’t take for granted. The thing I love about this career is that I’m constantly learning. Every day I run into some programming or systems problem that I don’t know how to solve, and I get to figure it out. It can be frustrating at times, but once the senior dev is satisfied that I’ve hit my head against the wall enough, he’ll come over and help me out.
J: I hear you are a yogi. Can you talk a bit about how you got into yoga and what role yoga has played in your life?
C: I had gone to a handful of Yoga classes before the Army, but I never had a consistent practice. When I left the military in 2012 I had a hard time transitioning back into civilian life. I was constantly on edge and stressed. I would feel angry a lot of the time for no particular reason.
A friend of mine had noticed and she invited me to a yoga class in Fort Lauderdale. They were playing live Kirtan music. The people on the mats moved effortlessly, like they were floating. It was amazing! At the end of the class I felt an immense peace and I knew I had to continue doing it. I started a regular practice, became a teacher and I still teach on and off. The practice keeps me grounded. I met a lot of nice people in the community, and that made my transition into regular life easier.
“I get to go home at the end of the day, which I don’t take for granted.”
J: What advice would you give to other vets thinking about becoming developers?
C: I’d say DO IT! A lot of the skills learned in the military are directly applicable to this field. The ability to perform under pressure, pay attention to detail and solve problems creatively are all assets to a Web Developer. As far as coding itself, be confident in your ability to learn, and be disciplined in your practice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to look like you don’t know something. No one is born a coder, and if you can keep your ego in check and approach the craft humbly, you’ll have a very rewarding career ahead of you.