Engineered to Code: A Civil Engineer’s Journey Back to Basics

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When Martin isn’t relaxing by the campfire with one of his favorite sci-fi novels, you may find him coding his next project. Having worked as a Civil Engineer for years, an NPR marketplace segment (ironically featuring one of our Web Development Immersive graduates) inspired him to make a career shift. Twelve weeks later, he’s on the hunt for his first job in his new career. 

Tell me about your previous career experience.

I started as a Civil Engineering Draftsman and a Surveying Rodman. Over time, I became a Civil Engineer who had started in design, but had migrated up the corporate path to Vice-President of Civil Engineering. Although I had always performed billable design work, I was spending more and more time managing others who managed others who did design. When our firm down-sized, I was considered overqualified to do design work.

What made you want to take our Web Development Immersive?

I was driving my car listening to the radio and heard the NPR Marketplace segment about Patsy Price. She was an engineer that had ended up in management, but wanted to return to design and had taken WDI. I had done programming over the years, but nothing on the web. I realized WDI represented the potential to restart my career.

However, you took our Back-End Web Development course first. How’d that work out?

I wanted to take WDI, but was recovering from an injury: I knew I could not do an immersive program while not physically fit. I wanted to continue learning more about web development, and taking BEWD was an obvious choice.

Tell me about WDI and what you’ve learned about yourself throughout the course.

It is intense! I learned that my manner of speech could still change. It can now reflect the patterns of my instructors, my classmates and my new field.

As you gear up for the end of WDI, what does your ideal job look like?

Solving difficult problems. Taking existing applications and incrementally enhancing the functionality or updating the methodology. Working with people who have the same passion for excellence that I do.

When you’re not coding, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Learning about new technology or deepening my understanding of technology with which I am already familiar. Reading sci-fi and crime novels. Doing laps in a pool. Volunteering with the Boy Scouts as an Assistant Scoutmaster and a Merit Badge Counselor. Sitting around a campfire and sleeping in a jungle hammock. Smoking chicken with hickory and a bit of apple.

Any advice for fellow career changers?

Do the free online tutorials: they will give you a taste of what is possible without getting you to where you need to be. If it feels right, then make it happen and devote yourself completely. For me, WDI was an incredible adventure with extraordinary classmates that led to a place of wide-open possibilities.

Last, but not least, what’s your guilty pleasure?

Reading Star Trek novels.

Learn More about Web Development at GA

Melanie Albert oversees alumni communications and programming for General Assembly.

Disclaimer: General Assembly referred to their Bootcamps and Short Courses as “Immersive” and “Part-time” courses respectfully and you may see that reference in posts prior to 2023.