From retail manager to professional programmer: Zach’s story

Zach Carolina Code School.jpg

Zach Thigpen was thinking about the future.

After graduating college, Zach was managing a music supply store in Athens, Georgia and wondered if he would be doing the same when he was older. In exploring a few options, he checked in with friends and acquaintances who had attended a three-month code school and were working as developers.

“I’ve always been interested in how [coding] works, but I think more so than that, just talking with my friends and seeing how future-proof the job market in this [industry] is,” pushed Zach to seek out learning to code as well. He enrolled in the first ever class at Carolina Code School.

Carolina Code School is an immersive twelve week in-person coding course to equip students with skills to work as web developers. Zach’s background as a musician helped as he tackled a new way to learn. The problem solving side of programming appealed to his creative side.

“I’m a creative person. I play music and I was reading a lot of correlations between musicians and doing this kind of thing and once I got into it, it’s a creative outlet for me. There is no one way to do all these things. You have to think creatively and come up with solutions and think outside the box.”

The curriculum is not without challenges. Code schools can be intense the work ambitious.

“There wasn’t ever an option. I wasn’t going to quit…” Zach said. “I knew the people who were teaching me had done this many times before. This curriculum was tested.”  

Zach compares the experience of learning to code to that of hands-on, vocational training.

“They teach a little bit how to do it, and then go you figure it out on your own...There is no manual on how to solve all these very specific problems. You really have to get out there and be good at figuring things out.”

Today, Zach works as a front and back end programmer for a company in the South Carolina Upstate. He received the job offer four days after graduating from Carolina Code School.

Even though the work was challenging, Zach says he would recommend the twelve week course to anyone who is committed to the learning process.

“It’s incredible the amount I learned in three months, but do make sure you are one hundred percent committed. The pace and the breadth of what you have to learn, it’s more difficult than anything I did in three months in college, but if you are committed then I would absolutely recommend it.”

For more information on Carolina Code School, head over to our courses page. And if you are curious what a mix of The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers sounds like, check out Zach’s band, The Grateful Brothers.

Lelia King