Learning to code so that you can land a job in tech can feel daunting. That’s why we’re sharing inspiring stories from Codecademy’s community — to show how people like you (yes, you!) can embark on a learning journey and end up with a totally new career. We hope these stories serve as a reminder that there’s no single path to a more fulfilling work life.
Today’s story is from Vic Ontiveros, a 22-year-old Software Designer at an IT consulting company living in Tampere, Finland. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here.
Why I chose to learn to code
“When I was a really little kid, my father gave me a Lenovo ThinkPad that was being recycled. I was just playing with it and smashing on the keyboard, which led into my love for computers. During my childhood, I tried some HTML and CSS and that kind of just exponentially grew into my love for coding.
My high school was in a really small town, and the STEM curriculum was pretty much non-existent — you had your basic math classes and nothing else. I took it upon myself to start a coding club at school. I was kind of going through some resources that I could use for the coding club and I came across Codecademy and I thought, Wow, this is great. I went ahead and I got a Pro membership and we all started coding together and discussing different concepts. It was definitely at that point that I realized I could turn this into a living and do this for work.”
How I made time to learn
“My girlfriend works as a security guard, so her days are pretty long. We would take my son into daycare, so that way I’d be home and on my own. I pretty much spent most of her shift on Codecademy and building my own side projects. I just grabbed a Red Bull and went crazy.”
How I saved up money to switch careers
“I studied computer science for one year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, but I had to leave because of financial issues. I looked around for developer work, but it was difficult because I didn’t have much professional experience and had limited education. I put that on hold and started doing pizza delivery to pay off my tuition. But even then, I’d still hop on and off Codecademy for a while.
It wasn’t until I moved to Finland and my son was born that I realized delivering pizza wasn’t going to pay the bills. So that’s why I really stepped up and went crazy with Codecademy.”
How long it took me to land a job
“I moved to Finland in 2021, and I started this job in March 2023.”
How I got in the door
“I made a Reddit post in my city subreddit saying: ‘Is anybody looking for a front-end developer or a full-stack developer?’ One guy actually reached out to me saying, ‘I’ll try to get you in this company. If not, I’ve got a bunch of references for you.’ It was through one of his references that I managed to slip into the Software Designer position that I’m in now.”
How I nailed the interview
“We had a pre-assignment that we had to complete in order to apply. We were given a database of different electric bike rentals at stations scattered across the city, and another database of every single journey that took place with these electric bikes in the summer of 2021. It was up to us to figure out how we can use this data to create a web app. We had to pretty much do everything: the front end, back end, and managing the data. Codecademy gave me all the skills so that I was able to tackle this project. Then there was a formal interview where we had to explain our codebase* for our pre-assignment project.”
* During a technical interview, you should be prepared to talk through your approach. Read this blog for tips on how to talk about your work.
How I evaluated the offer
“The company I’m at now trains people for six weeks of intensive onboarding. They really trained us to think like consultants and got the new recruits on a similar page in terms of skill level through workshops. In Finland, because the economy is growing so much and the population is so small, companies set up these programs in order to find developers. I know that in the U.S., the job market is very saturated, and companies look for people with a master’s and 20 years of experience. I definitely feel like I had an easier chance getting a job up here than I would have in the States.
But what’s really special about my company is they offer an employment contract and payment, which most other programs don’t do. Compensation is an important thing for me, especially because I have a kid who I need to be able to provide for in some way. The person who referred me to this position also mentioned that it would be a really good step to take a trainee position instead of trying to directly break into a junior-level position, which would be difficult without any sort of experience.”
How day one and beyond went
“This is a big step in terms of breaking into tech. One thing I can’t deny is having a lot of impostor syndrome. Looking at some of the other projects that people made and their GitHub repos, they’ve got some really nice projects out there that look amazing. Comparing my codebase to theirs, I have this feeling that I’m not good enough. Besides that, I’m definitely excited.
There’s some preliminary training that I have to go through first, so I think it’s going to be a long time before I touch anything prod. I’ve got a lot of workshops to go to and a lot of things to study with other developers.”
What I wish I knew before I started learning
* Want to start building your own projects? Check out our projects library and start applying your coding skills to real-world scenarios. And if you have a project you’re especially proud of, consider submitting it to our learner showcase.
Learn like Vic
Not sure where to start? Check out our personality quiz! We’ll help you find the best programming language to learn based on your strengths and interests.
Want to share your Codecademy learner story? Drop us a line here. And don’t forget to join the discussions in our community.