When people think “software developer,” I might not be the first image that pops into their mind. For one thing, my first love was not Python or HTML but a very different kind of language: poetry. As a kid, I was a confirmed word nerd, in love with the poems of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou. Later, as a teen, I competed in poetry slams. So when I attended CUNY Medgar Evers College in my home borough of Brooklyn, I was a natural English major.
I loved my university so much that I almost didn’t leave. Both before and after graduation, I worked in the university’s Emerging Technologies Department, on a project to standardize online course offerings using a digital platform. This was my first brush with the inner workings of software, and I found myself fascinated by all the things it could do for students, faculty, and administrators. When I kept asking questions about various features, my supervisor told me, “You’re thinking like a programmer!”
One day, an article about Revature caught my eye. They had a partnership with CUNY, were offering free training in software development—no prior experience necessary—and were particularly encouraging women and minorities to apply. What was more, the deadline for applications was that day.
Was this a sign?
I ran a few Google searches. My first question, naturally, was: “Is Revature a scam?!” I quickly learned that it wasn’t, and that hundreds of people had already benefited from the training. But what really sold me on Revature was reading the success stories from previous associates—especially those who, like me, didn’t come from a computer science background. So I whipped up a resume, sent it in, and… kind of forgot about it for a while.
Then I received an email from Revature about my “application for a position as a software developer.” Oh no, I thought. I must have clicked the wrong button! But it turned out there was no mistake: Revature offered both training and placement, so in a way I was indeed applying for a software-developer job.
Well, that escalated quickly.
Because I didn’t have a computer science degree, Revature put me and five others through a two-week course to learn the underlying concepts. They called this course “intensive,” which turned out to be the understatement of the decade; but easy is not really my style anyway. By the end of those two weeks, I found I could hold my own alongside any of my computer science-trained classmates.
After that, it was time for ten weeks of training in Java as part of a cohort of a dozen students. Revature ran the training less like a class and more like a real-world business: every morning, we had to get up, commute, and be onsite by 9 a.m., in our business suits and ready to learn. Coding is hard, and we had to be prepared to fail at a task 100 times and keep returning to it until we cracked it. As advertised, the course taught us to solve problems using code; but equally importantly, it taught us the value of discipline and persistence. In other words, it was a crash course in real life.
Because of the partnership between my university and Revature, I didn’t have to move in order to take the training; but I knew going into it that I would have to move for the placement. So, after the training, I was sent to Charlotte, North Carolina, 600 miles away, along with two of my cohort buddies.
I know that moving is hard for a lot of people, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. But, for me at least, it was worth it. In a way, we got the best of both worlds: being in a new city underlined that we had opened a new chapter in our lives, while having Revature buddies right there with us gave each of us a built-in support network.
I’ve stayed in Charlotte ever since. Less than four years since I finished the Revature training, I’m working as an assistant vice president and software engineer for Bank of America—not something I would have thought possible just a short time ago. Revature was my foot in the door, and the experience helped prime me for a career that requires constant learning. I’ve come a long way, and I can’t wait to see what the future has got in store.