Student Spotlight: After Construction Injury, Finding a New Way to Build

Derek Frand is a current student at the University of Minnesota Coding Boot Camp. After getting injured at his construction job, Derek decided to develop new skills that would still allow him to be creative. Derek shared his story about how he became interested in coding and how the program is going so far.

What were you doing before the boot camp?

I come from a background in construction. I’ve always had an interest in building things and taking them apart. I got injured on the job and can no longer do that kind of work, so I was at a crossroads in my life. I did some soul searching to try to figure out what I could do that I would still be passionate about and decided I’d give coding a shot. Coding allowed me to still be creative and build things but in a different way.

How did you find out about Minnesota’s program?

My partner had completed a different coding boot camp previously so I did some research and found the program at the University of Minnesota. With my injury, I needed the freedom to do therapy during the day and attend class at night, so the part-time program really appealed to me.

What’s the hardest part of the boot camp?

You have to put your time in. That’s a no-brainer. If you’re not willing to put the time in, then you’re not going to get it. You have to go all-in and study after class almost daily. You can’t try to do it on the side and expect great things especially if you’re new to coding like me.

How have you found the whole process?

Since my partner had gone through this before, I watched her struggle and become overwhelmed, so I knew a little bit about what to expect. You can only know so much, but if you know how to access the information you need, you will be ok.

How is career services helping you prepare for graduation?

Yes, they set me up with an informational interview for the TA position. The TA position will allow me to work and go to physical therapy. I still need another six months until I am able to work full-time because of my injury.

What’s the best part of the boot camp?

My instructor Amanda is amazing. She’s very patient and knowledgeable. The best part about the program is knowing that, in the end, I will be able to create these amazing apps that help solve real-world problems.

What’s your dream job?

My ultimate goal is to build apps that provide true change to the world. Maybe something that helps create greener technology.

What do you love the most about coding?

I enjoy front-end development because you build it and can see the results instantly. It’s the same feeling I would get in construction with building houses.

What advice would you give to someone considering this boot camp?

Make sure you know what you’re getting into and that the time for it. You need 20 hours a week minimum to advance and to really understand the concepts. Give yourself time to really reflect and process the information.

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