My Revature Story: Bridging the Gap from Theory to Practice
By Jeff Myers II
As a kid, I grew up never discovering my interests in programming. In fact, until my early 20s, when I decided to build a couple gaming computers for me and my younger brother, I hadn’t realized my my potential for writing and understanding code. As a digital artist, casual gamer, and, for some time, an academic in mechanical drawing, I already had some familiarity with computer hardware but had long assumed developing computer software would require a genius level of intellect. Successfully building my own computer made me question if my long-held assumption was actually true. So, I read up on a coding language called C++, and from that moment forward, I was captivated. I became so intrigued that I decided to continue my college education which I had previously began in art, and acquire a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, taking just over two years to complete.
That was when I encountered a problem that is all too common in the tech industry. Employers didn’t care how much you knew or how enthusiastic you were about coding. Unless you had three-plus years of practical industry experience, they were not interested. I wound up applying for dozens of jobs without hearing back from a single one.
This went on for months, to the point where I had almost given up hope for a career in tech. But one day, I was browsing through the job site Indeed.com when I saw an ad for a company called Revature that promised to provide specific training and a guaranteed job placement at the end of it—for free. In fact, they would even pay you a little while you trained.
To me, the proposal appeared to establish a symbiotic business practice, a rare company value that not only focuses on its own path to success but also the cultivation to success for its constituents, even its trainees. So without hesitation, I applied. And at long last, I was invited to interview. With this being the only callback I had received in months of job-hunting, I was nervous. In fact, throughout the interview, I thought I sounded desperate. Not desperate, the recruiter told me. Hungry. Meaning hungry to learn. Serious about learning. That was exactly right, I thought. They understood me perfectly.
Revature’s training program was the most mentally rigorous work I had ever done up to that point, but it was that hunger for learning and a fierce determination that got me through. I soon realized that, while my Bachelor’s had given me a solid grounding in code, it hadn’t taught me what it was like to develop software in real life. The Revature program and the subsequent placements (mine happened to be with two well-known consulting companies working for some of the largest banks in the country) bridged that gap. I learned how to take an idea from scratch, build the front end, build the back end, and deploy the software out into the world. Finally, I had that industry experience that employers were looking for.
That hunger to learn did not go away. So after Revature, I decided to take my knowledge even further by pursuing a Master’s in computer science at Western Kentucky University. The first semester was yet another step up in intensity. The coursework involved back-to-back team and solo projects as well as hundreds of hours of reading, studying, tutoring, and homework. Recently, I had to give myself a two month crash course in artificial intelligence architectures and Tensorflow. From my deep fascination of what I had learned, AI has become the focus of my studies.
Without the broad-based, practical knowledge from Revature and some fierce determination, I’m pretty sure I would have flunked out. But with the Revature training under my belt, I did well, especially when it came to teamwork. I knew how to work with others, divide up assignments, and offer assistance and constructive criticism. Many project teams even chose me as their project lead. There were mistakes I had to learn from, but my time with Revature gave me the broad technical understanding and project management experience necessary to learn quickly and adapt.
In the future, I want to keep pushing the frontiers of artificial intelligence through research and development. I see myself shuttling between academia and industry—wherever I can make the most impact on the field. By bridging theory and practice, Revature has set me up to do just that.