Written By
Written ByChristian McFarland

“Hey, Christian,” said my former manager at XYZ Law Firm, “get the broom, someone spilled their peanuts.” That was the last straw. Normally, I don’t mind helping out or picking up after someone (especially since it was my job at the time). But, for some reason, that day in January 2016 was different. I was sure there was more to life, and I knew I wouldn’t find out if I kept picking up peanuts.

Around that time in the news, headlines buzzed: “New data”, “Big data”, “Red data”, “Blue data”. It was all about data, and the software used to collect and manipulate that data. It was about Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. It was about an app I mindlessly downloaded at the kitchen table one night, that is now being used to influence decisions for the future of our nation.

I thought: Who is behind these apps? How do they spread so fast? Could I build one? I called a family friend who I knew was involved in the San Diego tech scene. It turns out these applications were being built by people like you and me, whether they had a college degree or not. Challenge accepted. I packed up my things, left my girlfriend and my dog to go chase a dream; to be a part of our generation’s gold rush; to take on the digital age.

For someone like me, who struggled to stay focused in a couple of general college courses, bootcamp-style, fast-paced, immersive learning techniques are a perfect alternative.

For someone like me, who struggled to stay focused in a couple of general college courses, bootcamp-style, fast-paced, immersive learning techniques are a perfect alternative. You get in, get what you need, and get going. That was my experience at Origin, and now I have a life beyond my wildest dreams.

I live in San Diego while working remotely, full-time for a company in Buffalo, N.Y. I can travel anywhere, work from a local cafe, even set up to work from the beach if I wanted to. I get to play with new technology, and be on the leading edge of modern business. People rely on my knowledge and creativity every day. All I need is my laptop, and the education and experience I gained at Origin.

“Is it really that simple?” you may ask. Yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. As I have found with anything in life, you get out what you put in. For me, that meant putting in more than the recommended 8 hours a day for the course. It meant sacrificing some weekends to stay in and study instead of going out. I had an opportunity to change my life dramatically in only a few months. I was desperate for that change, and ready to do anything to acheive the next step in my vision of success. I just had to do the work.

That willingness to do anything didn’t mean I was completely fearless. Before attending Origin, the extent of my software experience was with Microsoft Office and some ethically debatable peer to peer file sharing programs. Did I need to be some sort of genius who used their parents computer to hack NASA at age 12? How is it possible to learn everything I need to know in a few months? I decided to dismiss those thoughts, and trust that if it has worked for others, it could work for me. If I worked harder than any other person in the room, how could I fail?

I took that attitude into the class and into my job search after graduation. I have to tell you, it’s paying off. Origin offers dedicated, individualized help after graduation. They created a formula for success and all I had to do was put in the effort. For two months I tweaked my resume, applied to new jobs every day, went to the interviews and callbacks I received, dealt with rejection, and ultimately found the right fit. These days, with computers always at our fingertips, I had no excuses. I used an app on my phone to edit my resume. I sent in applications during my lunch break at my part time job. I answered every phone call from an unknown number, hoping it was a tech company calling me back.

The skills I learned during the course were the same skills in demand by tech companies in LA all the way to upstate New York. That was amazing to me. 2,500 miles away, I could communicate with these developers as if they were my instructors at Origin. There was a certain comfortability that I had not predicted. This took a lot of the pressure off once I got into the actual interviews.

To quote the former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, I just had to “Trust the process.”

One of my favorite things about being a software developer now, is that the more I learn, the more valuable I become to a software company. And no one can take that knowledge away from me.

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