Finding the Ability to Transform: Shawn from St. Louis

No Limit to Reinvention: A Web Developer is Born

After having several different careers, ranging from serving in the United States Army to working in the film industry, Shawn was looking for a chance to reinvent his career. Shawn found LaunchCode, and after taking CS50, he landed a new career in web development.

Tell us a little bit about your background — work history, education, interests, etc.

I’ve pursued a variety of interests over the years. I served in the United States Army. I served two combat tours. During those times, I realized I would rather invest my time into something I loved, which was music. After my service term was complete, I ventured off to Full Sail University to become a sound engineer.

Unfortunately, my timing with getting into the business was way off since music sales were declining back then, so I figured I could use my talents for the film industry. I travelled to LA, attended Los Angeles Film School, graduated, and worked independently for a few months. I struggled financially and couldn’t keep steady work. Around the same time, I met my wife in St. Louis, so I decided to move. Career wise, I had to start from scratch. I started back in retail, then moved into a telecommunications position, and finally LaunchCode.


How did you hear about LaunchCode?

I initially heard about LaunchCode through my wife. A co­worker of hers mentioned the training opportunity in the paper. My wife relayed the information to me. I wasn’t happy with my career path at the time, so I showed up to the Peabody Opera House in my work clothes ready for something new.


We hear you landed a new job. Congratulations! What is your position?

My current position is an apprentice level developer for Tighten. Tighten is a web consultancy company that develops websites, software, and mobile apps for world-class organizations. This is the first position I’ve been fortunate enough to attain outside of the Saint Louis market, independently from LaunchCode. My previous LaunchCode placement was at Superlative Technologies (SuprTEK).


What do you love most about your chosen area of tech?

I love the fact that web development is growing and that knowing all within this field is simply unattainable. The web is changing at an insane rate right now, and I’m ecstatic to be in the middle of the expansion. There’s simply so much that can be created within this medium. The reach is forever expanding, and I’m a kid in a candy store.

The web is changing at an insane rate right now, and I’m ecstatic to be in the middle of the expansion.

What is the best part of your (current) job?

At my job, they treat us like adults. We are the commanders of our own universe. I can decide if I want to work during the day, or at night, or on the weekend, or for 30 hours straight. The choice is mine and mine alone. Because we are remote, we get whatever amenity we need (within reason) to be successful. My company puts the developer in the best position possible to be productive and to give back because giving back is important.


What is your job environment like — coworkers, paired programming, etc?

My job environment is pretty laid­back. Our company is 100% remote, so I’m the only developer in Saint Louis. I have a workstation that I work from within the TREX building downtown. Because everyone is remote, Tighten stresses the need to often reach out if we are having issues with any level of work or if we are feeling claustrophobic. There isn’t a single person there I can’t reach out to or ask for a quick hand in a moments notice. I love my team.


If you took a course through LaunchCode, which program was it and do you feel the course prepared you well for your job?

I took CS50 which was a course primarily provided by the Harvard online campus through EDX and used LaunchCode for on­site guidance. I feel this class was an important factor for learning the basics of computer science as I am constantly relating some of those aspects to my current work. The languages I learned after CS50 were primarily c­family languages, and considering that we learned C during the course of that program, I don’t know where I would be today without that class. It is the foundation for which I’ve added all of my skills on to.


What would be your advice to someone interested in signing up for LaunchCode’s apprenticeship or job placement program?

If you are interested in changing your welfare of life, and want a chance at a new opportunity, this program is proven to provide exactly what they say they can provide. All it comes down to is your ability to learn and level of perseverance. If anyone wants a new career path, they can get one here.

If anyone wants a new career path, they can get one here.

You've talked about becoming an LC101 mentor as a way to give back to LaunchCode. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Before LaunchCode, I was a tech manager for a very large telecommunications company and not only was the time spent at the company extremely draining, but the work hours didn’t really leave a good work/life balance for my family. I often worked 14 hour days for 4 days out of the week. I wouldn’t be home at decent hours on those days, nor would I be in a very playful mood when my off days came around. After being placed in LaunchCode, not only did my work/life balance level out, but the increase in pay also helped. I don’t know where I would be now if not for the opportunity provided by LaunchCode. Because of that, I want to see others that have similar situations looking to improve their welfare of life receive that chance. I feel honored providing assistance to newcomers and cheering them across the finish line.

I want to see others that have similar situations looking to improve their welfare of life receive that chance.

What did you learn about yourself during your time with LaunchCode?

I learned that I still have a little gas left in the tank. I’ve learned that my curiosity hasn’t left me and that I can still dream at my age after all I’ve experienced. When we are caught up in the day­-to-­day business of providing, rarely do we get the chance to think of ways to improve ourselves. So, I feel rejuvenated knowing that the ability to transform doesn’t have an age limit. If I need to reinvent myself at 50, I feel I have the tenacity to do so. Click to tweet


///You heard Shawn: the ability to transform your life has no limit. So, what're you waiting for? If you need to gain the skills, check out the ways LaunchCode can help you learn. If you’ve already got the skills, skip ahead to apply for our apprenticeship program and polish up that resume to land your next tech job.