A Knack for Programming Leads to a New Career Path

Richard Nava graduated from Claim Academy in April of 2020. He came to our coding bootcamp with a background in game design and musical theater. In this post, he discusses his path to coding bootcamp and lends advice for current students and graduates.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?

I grew up on the north side of Chicago, performing musicals and playing videos games whenever I got the chance. I moved to St. Louis after being admitted to Webster University for musical theater and game design.

How did you decide to pursue a career in software development?

At the time I attended Webster, the game design program didn’t require students to take a programming class. How can you develop a video game if you can’t program? I decided to take computer science courses, because I enjoyed programming but wasn’t very good at it. I practiced on nights and weekends. It was actually family and friends in the field that said I had a knack for it, and encouraged me to pursue this career.  

What is your dream job? 

My dream job is to be part of a team that comes up with gaming or music hardware. Ideally, I would love to be a producer or designer for Blizzard Entertainment or Sony.  

What are your passions and hobbies?

Music and gaming is what keeps me going. I love playing the hottest new games and designing them. I play guitar, sing, and write songs. I also produce electronic pop music online and put in on SoundCloud.

How did you decide to select Claim Academy from all other coding bootcamps?

I wanted a full time, in-person experience. I researched coding bootcamps, and the top rated one in St. Louis was Claim Academy. I reached out to alumni to get a feel of their experience during the program and after they graduated. After hearing it was a positive experience across the board, I decided to apply.

What is the best part about learning how to code?

When learning a new concept, there’s usually a moment with the concept clicks or makes sense. When you apply the concept to your project and it works, it feels like a win. Few things in the world feel as satisfying as that. I love that idea of applying that feeling to a career.

What was the most challenging moment at Claim Academy and how did you overcome it?

The most challenging moments were definitely within the first few weeks.  I felt like I was drinking out of a fire hose – drowning in new and interesting information . Programming moves fast, and you have to adapt and learn quickly. Someone once told me that programming is like a muscle. You have to build it up with time, practice, and patience. I kept this in mind and kept the goals I had set for myself in focus. These things helped me get through the first few weeks of bootcamp, and keep motivation in this world I am not used to. 

What do you think the future of coding is?

I strongly believe that coding will have an easier barrier to entry as time goes by. Soon, it will be the norm for more people to have intermediate programming skills. For instance, my 10-year-old cousin is learning how to code via classes in her elementary school. Learning to code now is like learning how to read in the middle ages; pretty soon everyone will know how to do it.

Do you have any tips for interviewing and/or finding a job after graduating?

Work on your soft skills; they’re just as important as your technical skills! Claim Academy will give all the technological skills you need, and it’s truly up to the student to perfect their soft skills. Practice how to work on a team and work well with others. Being a team player will take you far in the software industry, and really in any industry.

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