Becoming A Rising Star: How Armando Pensado Learned to Code and Impressed His Employer
You could say that Armando Pensado’s life has been dictated by a calling. Several of them. The first call came when he was working at a small IT firm as a software engineer in his native Michoacán, Mexico. It came from Chicago. A company was on a worldwide search to hire software developers. And soon enough, Armando was living in the Windy City.
When that company eventually folded, another call came in: a financial technology software company in Orange County, California wanted Armando to work for them. Suddenly, he was commuting to work in the bright California sunshine.
Getting up to speed
Armando now works for a financial institution, where he’s been behind the scenes in their tech department for the last 12 years. “I have been programming large relational database systems to sustain and improve the bank operations.” But in the last few years, something was nagging at him.
“My background was in the financial technology sector,” he said. But the one piece that was missing for him: a way to get formal and structured training in web development techniques, in order to stay competitive in the industry. And after poking around the internet for a program, he came across The Coding Boot Camp at UCI Continuing Education. “When I discovered the boot camp, I knew I had to do it,” Armando said. “It was a perfect fit for me. I knew it would bring me further up to speed on what’s happening in the tech realm.”
And so Armando enrolled in the 24-week part-time web development program. He loved it—and he did well. During the boot camp, Armando spent about 25 hours outside of class studying and doing homework, while maintaining his job at a large bank. “I barely saw my wife for six months!” he said. “But it was so worth it.”
He and his fellow learners worked on three successive projects during the boot camp. First, they created a cryptocurrency monitor website, in which they could watch the fluctuating value of cryptocurrency, and receive news about that value from the financial media. The second project was a prototype of an online, inventory-tracking library.
But it was the third project that really inspired Armando. His group made a web app that helped compute medical dosages for animals, based on the type and weight of each animal. This third project demanded all the skills and technologies they had learned throughout boot camp, including React (the foundation for Facebook).
“The results were beautiful,” said Armando. “In fact, it was so good we were wondering if we should go around to animal hospitals to promote it.”
Raise your profile
Just as Armando was finishing his boot camp, he received a nice surprise: his employer, a large bank, gave him a huge raise. “They felt that, with my new credentials, I could leave the company, so they gave me a raise,” he said. “They wanted to keep me.”
Armando is quick to recommend his boot camp to friends. “The organization of the boot camp was amazing and so well planned. You can see the logic about how they plan to take students from knowing nothing to knowing a lot in just a short period of time,” he said. “It’s a very transformative experience. The program opens a world of possibilities for everyone.”
The future looks bright
Speaking of possibilities, with the extra money from his raise, Armando plans to continue to develop side projects like the ones from boot camp. But his real aim is to run his own tech company, creating software for other businesses. He hopes to get that off the ground in five years.
Instead of receiving the calls that will change his life, Armando plans to be the one making the calls.
“With the UC Irvine program, I just took a giant step in the right direction,” he said. “The boot camp made me very competitive in the market. I couldn’t be happier.”