Arlington Alumni Aaron Harrington: Building a solid foundation for success

Without continuous growth and progress, words like improvement, achievement, or success are meaningless. -Benjamin Franklin
A four-year college degree remains the best way to complete one’s education. A university diploma is sufficient to launch a professional career, considering the time and money required for college. It’s a model that has been around for centuries. But is it still the best and most effective way to learn in technology?
Aaron Harrington, a recent Arlington Dojo graduate, earned a college degree as a computer engineer. After graduating, he chose a career that supported his passion for giving back to the community and became a director for the Boys and Girls Club of Washington DC. He decided to pursue the career in technology he had hoped for after two years of success in that position. The landscape had changed significantly in the short time he was away from tech.
It was really difficult for me to get back into the field. Many people gave me the impression that my degree was obsolete or that technology was moving so fast.
Aaron began to explore the world of technology education after the pace of technological change exceeded the limits of his formal education. Aaron tried out free online courses and small programming assignments. While they were credible entry points, he preferred a more comprehensive and immersive program.
He discovered coding bootcamp. Aaron believed a deep dive approach was the best way to absorb all the technology changes and adapt to them. Aaron recalled a brief introduction of Coding Dojo at the Virginia campus’s opening. He then looked more closely at an open house night before deciding to take the plunge.
Bobby [Bethea], Program Success Manager, played a significant role. He reached out to me and took the time to come up to the open house. Then, he invited me to one of the lectures. The most important thing was talking to other people in the program and doing the necessary research.
Aaron was excited about bootcamp culture and the promise of Coding Dojo courses that would last 10-12 hours per day. His experience allowed him to get through the pre-bootcamp prep process in five days. This is a typical time span of up to two weeks.
Aaron discovered topics that his prior education had not covered even though he has a degree in computer engineering. These included the design elements of HTML/CSS. Aaron realized that Coding Dojo bootcamp and his formal education weren’t redundant. They could actually complement each other.
HTML and CSS were my biggest challenges. I had never programmed websites before so it was definitely stressful to learn everything in the first week. It was a good start to my future. The instructors were wonderful, and I found myself helping a lot more of my classmates once I got into the program. I felt a lot more confident after the first few weeks.
Aaron began to learn programming languages that he didn’t know about as an undergraduate. Although he was familiar with C++, Java, and algorithms in college, he didn’t know much about the Python language, which is the core of the Coding Dojo full stack program. Aaron said that although it was not an easy task, his instructors and hard work helped him succeed.
His college career did not include the long hours spent coding and learning new programming technologies. While college taught him the principles and philosophies of computer engineering, CodingDojo taught him how it actually works. And how to turn it into a legitimate career.
The undergraduate or classroom is more theoretical. “This is what you can do with them, and this is how it improves your performance.” The bootcamp teaches you how build [projects] or create things. So you can go on an interview saying, “Hey, take a look at what I made.” This is what I know how do. Coding Dojo helps you format your ideas so that when it comes time to actually go into a job or workforce, it’s like “Oh, I’ve done this before.”
Aaron found that the experience of being in a classroom, rather than taking an online course, was very beneficial for his understanding of the material. The Coding Dojo onsite experience had the greatest benefits due to the personal attention and hands on efforts of both students as well as instructors.
One of my classmates was actually taking the online version. She could talk about the difference in engagement and how she is more prepared for i.

Arlington Alumni Aaron Harrington: Building a solid foundation for success
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