Kevin Kafuku was mentally drained. Between his job as a help desk analyst at a Hyundai dealership and his associate’s degree program at John Tyler Community College, Kevin was working well over 80 hours each week.
Something had to change.
Then he discovered the University of Richmond Coding Boot Camp, and Kevin found himself on a journey that would give him a new perspective on life—as well as an exciting, life-changing role.
Time for a new start
Kevin’s interest in tech started young. “I’m a Curious George and I’ve always played around a lot with tech,” he said. “The first thing I coded was a little game on my TI calculator during math class.”
This passion inevitably led him to pursue an associate’s degree in information technology. But Kevin wasn’t satisfied with the pace or subject matter. Burnt out and bored, he wanted a new path—he just didn’t know where to start.
One day, he was talking to a network engineer—a customer at the dealership where he worked. He had never considered going into network engineering, but hearing about the job and the pay, he thought, “Maybe I can do this.” So he went on a hunt for online resources.
Kevin found the University of Richmond Coding Boot Camp powered by 2U, Inc. “I didn’t know what field I wanted to be in, so as an introduction to all things web development, this program was perfect,” he said. “I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’ A week and a half after applying, I was in. It was the happiest day of my life.”
Juggling work and self-doubts
But Kevin’s happiness soon turned to anxiety: he had a bout of imposter syndrome. “Being completely new to this field, I was constantly frustrated,” he said. “Even as I learned, I would think, ‘Oh, I don’t know enough.’”
Luckily, the instructor and TAs were there to support him. “I don’t know about other cohorts, but I think we had the best instructional staff ever. They made sure to reiterate that we’re not going to know everything, and that everyone in the industry struggles with doubts,” Kevin said. “Tech changes all the time, so no matter how far you go in the field you’ll always have to learn new things.”
Those same fears became the driving force he needed. “The curriculum was so challenging but it was so rewarding. Not only did it teach me what I need to know, but it taught me how to think a different way and learn more in the future,” Kevin said. “Imposter syndrome is good to have. It helps you push yourself.”
Kevin also struggled to balance his workload. For the first few months, he juggled work, his degree program, and the boot camp course load—and the hours were adding up. It got to the point he had to reassess his priorities.
Wanting to commit himself to his future, Kevin left Hyundai. He was all in.
Kevin’s dedication began to pay off when he started his career search. “Initially, I was applying to jobs just to get my feet wet,” he said. “But then I did really well on an interview and they offered me a job that same day.”
Though it was a great position, his student success manager recommended he keep his mind open to other opportunities as well—and use this offer as leverage for other interviews. “The instructors were really helpful about how to interview and do it professionally,” said Kevin. “I started seeing the value of myself and my skills. I’m in demand.”
The boot camp’s Demo Day was a turning point. Opting to work solo, Kevin created a VR arcade scavenger hunt game using Mern Stack, Node, React, and other languages. It took him nearly two months to complete, but it was worth it. “I got a lot of attention on Demo Day,” Kevin said. “The following week, I had three interviews with companies who saw my presentation. So I decided to scrap my first offer.”
Soon after, he got a call from a recruiter who had the perfect job for him: Application Developer at Capital One.
Rising above the rest
In his new role, Kevin’s imposter syndrome is gone. He clearly sees his contribution.
“The curriculum from the boot camp was great. Before the boot camp, I thought I would need a bachelor’s degree. Now I’m with a bunch of computer science graduates and I actually know more than some of them,” Kevin said. “The boot camp taught me real-world things that CS grads don’t even know. Every day I’m using skills I learned in the boot camp.”
On top of the hard skills, he was able to hone important professional soft skills as well. “The group projects in the boot camp were a challenge because everyone has opinions, strengths, and weaknesses,” he said. “But it really prepared me for the real world. I learned a lot and learned that it’s good to have a view of what everyone thinks and how to think outside the box.”
The best part? Kevin went from an exhausting 80-hour weeks to balanced 40-hour weeks—and now earns double his previous salary.
“I’m so happy and grateful,” he said. “I still doubt myself a little bit, but I know now that if you put the work in, you can do it. This program was life-changing. If nothing else, you will learn something new, you will gain, courage, and you will gain a new hunger for success.”
This article was originally published on bootcamps.richmond.edu.