Meet Duncan – A FireBootCamp student that went from dietitian to professional developer in 9 weeks.

It’s never too late to start over.  

In this interview, Duncan Hunter, a FireBootCamp alumnus tells us a little bit more about his experience at FireBootCamp and how he changed careers only a few months ago. Changing careers could be the best decision you ever make, watch this inspiring story and learn more about Duncan and FireBootCamp.

Who is Duncan Hunter?

I am a Software Architect at SSW who loves working in passionate teams to make awesome software. Making software that people love and solves real world issues is what makes me tick. I made a dramatic career change in 2014 from being an Accredited Practicing Dietitian to a Software Developer. My focus is on web development as a full stack developer using Azure, ASP.NET WebAPI/MVC, TypeScript and AngularJS.

For the last 10 years before the technology stuff started I was a Dietitian. I worked as a clinical dietician at the hospital, worked at the university, published research and did a lot of teaching. I also did some work in the marketing arena. It was great but I never settled and didn’t feel like specializing in any of those areas.

Why did you change careers?

About three years ago I had an idea to build an app related to the health and wellbeing. That’s when I decided to learn .NET development. At the very beginning I played around with simple code making basic WordPress sites and I really loved it.

People told me to focus on the business side and not to bother about the technology. I thought of giving it a shot and from the beginning I was in love with it. I had a passion to do it and I would spend all my spare time learning how to code – I loved it!

What were the challenges and obstacles you faced?

Beside the fact that I would feel dumb because it takes a lot of trial and error I think that the biggest challenges were:

  • I was paying someone to learn how to code once a week. It was on top of all my other work duties and it just wasn’t working.
  • After that I started doing Plural Sight Tutorials. That was very helpful at the very beginning. I learned how to develop, I learned the basics but the challenge with that was that I felt I was about to learn bad habits.
  • Enterprises apps were completely different
  • Everyone is so opinionated and I wasn’t learning decision making – I was learning just the basics

Why did you choose FireBootCamp?

It was really a decision point for me. When I found out about FireBootCamp I thought to myself, “If I can make it through nine weeks and still be in love with the idea, this could be the career I want to pursue.”

Why FireBootCamp? Why not go to university?

The reality is that I can’t afford a four year degree: What if I do four more years of uni and I’m not sure if this is the industry for me?

When you go to uni you learn a lot of theory but you don’t learn much about enterprise technology.

Furthermore, I know so many people who didn’t do a tech degree – and I would love to be in their shoes. IT seems to be one of those unique industries where if you actually want to learn to do hands on stuff not just the fundamentals you’re probably better off doing something like a boot camp and then moving into technical work where you have people to mentor you through that process versus spending four years before you actually get into a real-life situation

What did you learn at FireBootCamp?

  1. I learned to deliver software on a weekly basis, something that is rare in the software industry.
  2. It opened my eyes to my limitations and strengths. At times I surprised myself at what I was able to achieve and other times frustrated at my limitations.
  3. FireBootCamp prepared me for the real work environment. I learnt how to work in a software development team with a deadline, strong personalities and a steep learning curve

How was FireBootCamp?

Awesome, intense, passionate, tasty (we ate out a lot), and ultimately it was inspiring to tackle changing career.

FireBootCamp was an awesome experience. I learnt more in nine weeks than I normally would in 6 to 12 months. Many of us had put our jobs on hold or left them to do the FireBootCamp. This meant everyone was really fired up to learn and it really raised the bar during the course in regards how much energy we all put in during FireBootCamp.

What happened after FireBootCamp?

It was unreal – I got my first job right after FireBootCamp. It was incredible. Now I have been working amongst much more experienced developers and my learning continues to improve at a rapid rate. Getting that initial boost from FIreBootCamp to get into the industry really helped me get effective enough to join a team where as before my skills where not good enough to contribute effectively.

Duncan’s Advice for other people looking to change or improve their career.

  1. Be passionate. If you are passionate about what you are moving towards it is makes it a challenge versus a pain to change.
  2. Find the best people to learn from and spend as much time as you can with them.
  3. Get out into the community at user groups, online forums and tech talks and network. Sometimes it can feel very distant when you are just learning on your own and being involved with others sharing that passion makes it more real. I cannot emphasis this more as when I got out into the community is when I really started to make the change.

FireBootCamp was a catalyst for my change and also for most of the participants to make the leap into better career paths. If you want to learn best practices and be immersed and challenged to take your dev skills to the next level I would highly recommend FIreBootCamp.

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