A year ago, I was a supermarket cashier with a bachelor's degree in English. Today I'm a programmer for Express Scripts — a Fortune 22 company.
An educational nonprofit called LaunchCode changed my life. LaunchCode provides learning resources and job opportunities in technology, all at no charge to its students. When I found out about the organization, I was taking classes at St. Louis Community College, but my associate's degree in software development was a long way off. LaunchCode jumpstarted my tech career and guided me to Express Scripts. Click to tweet
My mom recommended LaunchCode after she heard about it on the radio. I kind of brushed it aside because at the time they were just connecting employees with potential candidates. Then I found out that they were teaching a Python class. I knew a little bit about Python, which is a good language for beginning developers, but I wanted to find out more. The class also taught web essentials, and I wanted to learn about that too.
I applied to LaunchCode and passed the screening tests, which look for aptitude and problem-solving ability, not computer knowledge. In July 2016, I enrolled in LaunchCode's coding class, LC101. Like all of LaunchCode's courses, LC101 was free.
Thanks to LaunchCode, I don't need the degree for my current job, but I like to learn, and I like to finish what I start.
It came with a bonus, as well: I earned 12 credit hours at St. Louis Community College, helping me stay on track to earn my degree by the end of next year. Thanks to LaunchCode, I don't need the degree for my current job, but I like to learn, and I like to finish what I start.
LC101 was intense, and it moved at a brisk pace. For 20 weeks last year, I spent six hours a week in class. Outside of class, I spent up to 15 hours a week reading assigned materials, watching videos and working on practice exercises and coding assignments. By the end of the course, I knew Python and Java, another programming language, and I could build simple web applications and write code.
By the end of the course, I knew Python and Java, another programming language, and I could build simple web applications and write code.
When I completed the class, LaunchCode worked with me to find a job. That's where Express Scripts comes in.
Express Scripts needed Pega developers, but they're in short supply. The company reached out to LaunchCode which created a short Pega class and identified a group of us as potential candidates. I was selected to take the class — and when I finished, Express Scripts hired me as an apprentice. When my apprenticeship ended, I became a regular full-time employee.
Getting hired at Express Scripts allowed me to quit the supermarket, and I love being here. I'm a problem solver, which is what a programmer does. I also was able to start helping out at LaunchCode, as a teaching assistant for LC101. They pay me for my time, but I'm so grateful to LaunchCode, I would do it for free.
This article was originally published in Express Script's internal Newsletter.
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