Alumni Spotlight: Tyler Ketron January 30, 2019
Before joining us for Rithm’s 7th cohort, Tyler Ketron got his hands dirty (and sometimes still misses it!) as a hydrogeologist at government agencies and a consulting firm. When he’s not busy at his new job as a Front End Engineer, you can find Tyler competitively weight lifting, raising chickens in his backyard, or flexing his classical musician skills with the oboe and piano. Luckily, we were able to catch some time to sit down with Tyler and discuss his journey from growing up in a small town in Tennessee to becoming a software engineer.
What got you interested in coding and deciding to pursue a career as a Software Engineer?
I was first exposed to coding in college in my science and engineering classes, and while I enjoyed it, I always just saw it as a tool to help me process data or perform calculations to support my other work. It had a reputation for being very difficult and so it wasn’t a profession that I ever thought I could make my way into. However after working in my previous career for several years I wasn’t satisfied with the day-to-day challenge and started coding more in my free time. As I worked through various online tutorials and courses I built my confidence up that I could actually be a web developer. After trying unsuccessfully to work my coding into my job, I eventually decided to take the plunge and devote all my time to software engineering. Now I only wish I’d done it sooner!
Tell us about the environment and curriculum at Rithm School. What made it the right fit for you?
I did a lot of research as I was deciding which bootcamp to attend, and Rithm really stood out for several reasons. First, the small class sizes really appealed to me, as I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just learning how to code, but how to think like a developer and implement best practices. Having such an intimate class and so many instructors available made it so I was always able to ask questions or have discussions about the technologies we were learning. Secondly, I felt like Rithm’s curriculum was well designed to ensure a deep dive into languages and technologies that are in high demand in the industry. Third, the chance to work on a company project before even starting my first engineering job seemed like an amazing opportunity to get my feet wet and start building relevant experience. Fourth, I also appreciated the interview process and prework, as it made sure myself and all my classmates had the necessary background to hit the ground running on the first day of class.
Overall the program was amazing, and while tiring and stressful at times, moved at a very manageable and rewarding pace. Instructors were always around and available, and lectures were engaging and even complex topics explained with clarity. The curriculum managed to hit all the general points of web development while still emphasizing particularly in-demand skills, which I appreciated during my job search. And finally, the multitude of project work really helped to reinforce key concepts while allowing me to express my creativity and build confidence.
Do you have a favorite learning memory from your time here?
Probably the time spent pair programming on larger projects. It was very rewarding to work through challenging problems with a classmate, getting each other stuck and unstuck, and seeing how people approach problems in different ways.
You got to work on a big company project while at Rithm. Tell us about the project and your role.
For my company project I worked with Tunelark, a music theory education startup. My team was tasked with building a dashboard for teachers to help administer coursework, monitor progress, and perform other administrative tasks for students. Working closely with the CTO, we built a set of React components from the ground up in just a few weeks. Since this feature added quite a bit of new functionality to the app, we also had to modify the Rails backend and database. Becoming acclimated to a legacy code base, as well as a new language and framework, was the most challenging but rewarding part of my time at Rithm. But by the end of the few weeks I felt comfortable navigating through the code, sorting out git workflows, and fixing issues throughout the stack. I thought this was a great confidence boost leading into my job search, and it was a really useful talking point during my interviews. Lastly, I got to see code I had written on the production website before the end of the program, which was awesome!
Tell me about the process of briefly being unemployed while job searching, and how that process went.
Job searching is a very different skill than coding, and it wasn’t easy to make the switch. However, I felt like Rithm gave me the tools and knowledge I needed to be successful, as well as continued support from instructors and my classmates. There were lots of dramatics ups and downs, with lots of good news coming right alongside lots of bad news. I found it helpful to keep as much data as possible about how things were going to help inform my process, to focus on keeping my technical skills sharp, and to make time for fun coding projects to still give myself a creative outlet during the search.
What company are you working at now, and what do you do there?
I’ve recently started as a Front End Engineer at Birst, a business analytics startup. I work on a variety of things -- in the past week I’ve squashed a few bugs, fixed some styling updates, added a new UI feature, and worked to make the product more accessible for all our users. It’s a good mixture of challenging but rewarding work, my coworkers are great, and I get to problem solve all day.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in attending a bootcamp?
Do as much research as you can and talk to anyone who’s been through it so you have a good idea of what to expect. And jump in and get your feet wet to see if coding might be a good fit for you. There are tons of free resources online, all it takes is a computer and some time.
Written by Elie