Code Labs Success Story - Joseph Williams
How Code Labs helped Joseph go from working at Best Buy to landing a role as a full-stack software engineer for a leading biochemical manufacturer.
January 11, 2023
Name: Joseph Williams
Job Title: Associate Software Engineer at BioKyowa
Hometown: Sikeston, MO
Before Code Labs
Joseph started his Code Labs1 journey while maintaining a full-time job at Best Buy as a product line specialist. Motivated by a colleague going through the Code Labs program at the time, Williams seized the opportunity to make a life-changing career decision.
“Before Code Labs, I had zero programming experience, no college degree, and was just working through life with no clear and fine direction. I moved from Sikeston, Missouri, to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, around two years ago, working here and there, but had no career in sight. I eventually landed at Best Buy, where I heard about the program from one of my supervisors. The supervisor was one of Code Labs' previous success stories, Stephon Gant, and he talked extremely highly about the course, the resources it offered, and how it changed his life. It was exciting and inspiring and I felt like I was getting a golden ticket. All I had to do next was put in the time.”
Joseph's Code Labs Experience
“My experience with Code Labs has been every bit of the word ‘otherworldly.’”
According to Merriam-Webster,2 otherworldly means, “of, relating to, or resembling that of a world other than the actual world.” We’ll take it. ;)
All right, back to the story—Joseph had no idea what he was getting himself into when applying for the program and how quickly the journey into a newfound career interest would take off for him.
“Going into the program, I never imagined how drastically I could change my life in such a short timeframe, along the way, developing skills I didn't know I was capable of. One of the main driving factors of my personal success is the plethora of knowledge and support at my fingertips, whether it be from the coaches or other classmates. You always have an outlet to motivate you if you're in a rut or need an extra brain to incite ideas. The code coaches are an invaluable part of the program. Having an experienced developer there to guide you, rather than give the answers, was everything. The slight pushing and leading in the right direction created an enhanced learning experience.”
As part of the learning journey, Joseph took advantage of the paid work experience opportunity to work directly with the Codefi Labs team of software developers. Through this experience, he was introduced to working on a custom-built project that would be used for future participants of the Code Labs program. He had the chance to apply his newly learned skills to meet project requirements while balancing weekly standups and one-on-ones with the lead developer, all while bringing his own skills, expertise, and ideas to the table.
“After the front-end part of the course, I was greeted with an internship at Codefi to work on the dashboard used for students to come in the future. During the internship, I got to experience the flow of a real-world development team with Will Wilder (love that guy) as my Tech Lead. I went through sprint planning, sub-tasking, and morning tech meetings to address possible problems or successes. The project we worked on got me fully acclimated to the workspace I was about to dive into, and without it, the whole process would be much more jarring. After about a month into my paid work experience with Codefi, I was contacted with a potential opportunity to work with BioKyowa on their software development team, and I took it. As soon as I become an employee at BioKyowa, I had no problems with the developmental flow thanks to the work experience and how prepared it made me.”
Post Front-end Graduation and How Code Labs Impacted Joseph’s Life
Upon graduating from the front-end course, Joseph was introduced to a fulfilling career at BioKyowa,3 a leading biochemical manufacturer located in Southeast Missouri, producing high-grade premium amino acids in the food and pharmaceutical industry.
“After graduating from the first section of the course, I was hired by BioKyowa as a full-stack Associate Software Engineer, and I am in love. For the job, I have learned Python and Django and it's been a blast. I can make amazing software for the people I work with to use directly. It improves their work life, and I see the immediate fruits of my labor. I can't wait to see where my career heads and how improved my skills become in the upcoming back-end part of the course.”
Although Joseph has already landed a job in the software development industry, he’s continuing his education by completing the back-end course of the Code Labs Program. After completion, he’ll have expertise in additional languages and technologies focused on Ruby on Rails.
Advice from Joseph to Future and Current Code Labs Participants
“PLEASE DON'T QUIT.”
“At times, the course can be very difficult and overbearing, but please tough it out. You will learn so much in the course of six months. Code as much as you can in your free time. Build personal projects to fix problems you face yourself—the more the problem relates to you, the more likely you are to spend more time on it.”
“Making sure you participate is a critical part of the course. Even if you're wrong, always participate to show how badly you want it. Be proud of what you build no matter what, show it off to everyone you can think of, and get excited about others looking at what you're capable of. There's no reason not to try as much as physically possible. It's a complete career and life-changing course for FREE.”
2Merriam-Webster Definition of “Otherworldly.”