How I Went from IT Support Specialist to iOS Developer in 3 Years

6 minutes

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 Matthew Ogtong, a 29-year-old iOS Developer at Comcast, living in Philadelphia. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here.

Why I chose to learn to code

“I initially went to college for business, then I transitioned to computer science at NJIT. I actually don’t have a degree; I dropped out around senior year to pursue coding full time. I was able to land a role in IT support while I was still in college, and I worked there for about a year. Fortunately, I was sitting next to the engineering department, and a lot of my coworkers were fresh bootcamp grads. I was like, ‘You guys don’t have degrees in computer science? How’d you get this job? This sounds insane to me!’

A couple of the senior engineers were having this mentorship program for other people in the company who were interested in learning how to code. I was the first one to say, ‘I want to do this.’ I loved it. I learned some web technologies like JavaScript React and even contributed a little bit to their source code. I joined Codecademy in 2019 and I took a few courses.

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The pandemic hit in 2020, and since I worked in IT, the majority of my time was spent doing work in the office. They had to reduce my hours significantly, so I just started planning my next moves. I was like, I’m going to do coding full time. I gave my notice about three months later, and stopped school, because I didn’t think I would be able to juggle school and a coding bootcamp.”

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How I made time to learn

“What I learned from my coworkers is that the people who really stick out from the rest are the people who further study outside of structured bootcamps. You shouldn’t treat [learning to code] as a nine to five. I knew this was going to be my future and what I wanted to do, so I was coding after hours, learning new technologies, thinking about the projects that I wanted to build. I also stayed away from a lot of social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram — I pretty much only have LinkedIn.”

How I saved up money to switch careers

“Like many people during the pandemic, I was living at home with my parents, and I wasn’t paying rent. I just kept saving money from working IT gigs. Since my role was impacted directly from Covid, I was able to receive unemployment benefits. That extra $600 a week definitely helped a lot. If I wasn’t receiving the unemployment benefits, things would have been much more difficult for me.”

How long it took me to land a job

“All the jobs I saw on Indeed and LinkedIn were like: ‘You need Python experience. You need Java experience. You need JavaScript experience.’ I thought, I can’t learn all these things! It took me six months to be hired into a consulting firm, where they teach you mobile development technologies and help you land your first client and contract.”

I was trying to get my feet wet with open-source contribution, and I think Docs is a perfect entry for anyone to try to get into that.

Matthew Ogtong
iOS Developer at Comcast

How I got in the door

“I primarily started using Codecademy at the beginning of this year, mainly contributing to Docs. I was trying to get my feet wet with open-source contribution, and I think Docs is a perfect entry for anyone to try to get into that. Before you even start applying to jobs it’s important to have a strong GitHub profile and a README in place for yourself, at least just to give a little intro for anyone that’s visiting your page.

I had over a year of mobile development experience, so I contributed to Swift and SwiftUI Docs. Contributing to Docs is really easy; the documentation is very intuitive and very comprehensive. The process is streamlined, and all the maintainers are friendly. And now in my job I use GitHub every day and Git for everything.

In April 2023, I joined a new firm, and they [placed me in] the role at Comcast as a ‘contract to hire.’ So if everything goes well, then they’re expected to hire me full time.”

New to open-source software?

Contributing to Docs is an excellent way to start learning how to use Git and GitHub, lend your knowledge to other learners, and build your portfolio. Not only will Docs improve your coding chops, but it can also help you land a job.

How I nailed the interview

“It was definitely the most intensive interview I’ve had — period. The first was a screening with the recruiter, then it was a video call with the with the manager, where he asked me a bunch of technical questions. There was a third interview in-person with a live panel at the Comcast Technology Center, which is a huge building in Philadelphia.

There were three people from the team: the Manager, the iOS Developer Lead, and the Scrum Master. They gave me a list of features and API endpoints, and an hour and a half to basically build an app from the ground up. I had to explain my thought process throughout the whole thing. I didn’t eat anything that whole day, and the interview was at 4 pm. My stomach was growling the whole interview, and I was sweating in my suit.

They gave me an extra hour to wrap up, because I ran into some issues with my code. They asked me if I was free that night and said, ‘We want you to continue working on this code, polish it up, put it on your GitHub, and then send us a link.’ And that’s what I did. What I built for the interview is still on my GitHub to this day.”  

How I evaluated the offer

“Immediately, I was like, I want this job. The main thing for me was the team. This is my first hybrid role — two days in, three days remote — which is perfect for me, because I kind of miss the office. My first impressions of the team, the vibe they gave off, and the culture that they presented as a company were the main enticing factors. The offer was higher than my expectations, and the potential for career growth in this position is really good as well.”

How day one and beyond went

“The first week at Comcast was great. They got me settled in right away, and I got my laptop on the first day. On the second day, they just gave me a tour of the office because I was new. We played some ping pong; it was really chill, and I was not expecting that.”

What I wish I knew before I started learning

“Pick one technology that you’re passionate about and commit to it. Stick with it and learn those skills. Going back into time, I would have 100% chosen an iOS development bootcamp over the generic software engineering one. If you want to, say, change and do something different, those languages are going to transfer over. Everything is kind of connected in that sense.”

Learn like Matthew

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