Supersize Your Career: How a Coding Boot Camp Helped This Fast Food Manager Become a Data Analyst in Just Six Months

Just a year ago, Patrick Chu was the general manager of a chain restaurant in Virginia. He had never touched data analytics software, nor thought much about the field. Today, he’s a data analyst for one of the country’s largest banks, Capital One.

According to Patrick, this major transition was simple and surprisingly fast—thanks to the University of Richmond Coding Boot Camp.

Hungry for more

“I was a restaurant manager for seven years—most recently at a Zoe’s Kitchen and Chipotle before that,” Patrick said. “But I was looking for a lifestyle change and more fulfilling work.”

While Patrick had been thinking of a career change for a while, the idea for the coding boot camp started with a comment from one of his employees.

“I’d seen a Facebook ad for the Richmond Coding Boot Camp and thought it was interesting, but I was just too tired to do any follow-up,” Patrick said. “But the next day, one of my employees told me how her friend went to the boot camp and came out with a developer position.”

It was just the nudge he needed.

“I quit my job, signed up for the boot camp, and put it all on the line. I knew I didn’t have time to mess around if I wanted things to change,” said Patrick.

Making personal connections

Patrick had some experience with computers going into boot camp—he had attended the University of Virginia for computer science in 2009, but never finished his degree. This interest certainly helped. However, Patrick largely credits his success in the course and the passion for coding he developed to the extra time he spent working on assignments outside of class.

“None of the programs or coursework was harder than I expected,” Patrick said. “The boot camp was really more of an exercise in how long you can look for solutions to problems. It’s research heavy, which can make it tough to manage your time and keep moving forward.”

Patrick also discovered that he enjoyed working with his fellow students as much as he loved solving the intricate coding problems.

“I just really enjoyed the way that the students, TAs, and instructors interacted with each other during the boot camp. The camaraderie was by far the most memorable aspect of what we went through,” Patrick said. “I’m still in touch with some people from the boot camp on a daily basis. We still go to each other for advice.”

To maximize his boot camp experience, Patrick went all in and quit his job managing the restaurant. He used his extra time selflessly.

“Not working while taking the boot camp let me help a lot of my classmates with the material. That’s probably part of why I became a TA for the next boot camp class after I finished the course,” said Patrick.

The most interesting part of Patrick’s boot camp experience, though, wasn’t his course work or classmates. It was the position he was offered after graduation—a role that no one would have expected.

Getting his foot in the tech door

Patrick earned his certificate in full-stack web development. Yet just three weeks after the boot camp finished, he started work as a data analyst for Capital One.

According to Patrick, this shift in tech disciplines was all part of the plan. Luckily, the boot camp had set him up to succeed in multiple fields, regardless of his specific certification.

“I didn’t have any background in data analytics, but when I met the Capital One recruiter, it felt like a natural fit,” Patrick said. “Full-stack development definitely gives you the mind-set and grounding in how to learn about tech—not just specifics or programming languages. The foundations of the full-stack boot camp let me adapt to my new position as a data analyst.”

He’s already reaping the rewards of his fast-tracked career change, and he hasn’t looked back.

“I went from working 70+ hours a week at a job I wasn’t passionate about to 40 hours a week in a career I love,” he said. “My new position has even given me time to pursue my hobbies.”

Fighting off imposter syndrome

As a restaurant manager turned data analyst, Patrick knows the doubts and fears that come with quickly changing careers. He’s confident that if he can do it then other students can also succeed without going back to school for years.

“When you come out of the boot camp, it’s easy to feel like you don’t know enough,” Patrick said. “I suffered from imposter syndrome at first. Then when I began looking for work and started at my new job, I quickly realized I’m already a competitive candidate.”

And Patrick plans to remain competitive for years to come.

“I want to learn as much as I can about web development so I can transition into a dev role down the line,” he said. “I’m just waiting to see where this career will take me.”

Patrick has a final reminder for anyone who’s looking to make a big change in their life.

“It’s a lot of work, but the process works,” he said. “You’ll get out of this boot camp exactly what you put in. A little hard work goes a long way.”

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