This Canadian developer shares learning code and job hunting tips

Dan

Dan Comand is a Canadian web developer who made the switch from working in sales and marketing to coding after attending a bootcamp. Dan has also launched the VoiceJobs website due to the rise in popularity of tools like Alexa. Here Dan gives tips to developers without Computer Science degrees on how to get a job in web development.  

Hey, so can you introduce yourself?

I’m Dan Comand, a software developer based in Toronto, Canada. I work primarily with Ruby on Rails, and for the last couple of years I’ve been very interested in voice platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. I’m the founder of VoiceJobs, a job site dedicated to jobs in the voice industry. We feature jobs for voice developers, voice user experience and conversational designers. I also have a software development agency called Plan A, where I build web and voice products for clients across different industries.

Dan

What first got you interested in programming?

Ever since I was a kid I was interested in computers and technology. A lot of my time as a kid was spent playing PC games, downloading random stuff from the Internet, and looking up the source code on my favorite websites to see how they worked. As I got into my early twenties, I became very interested in tech startups and the technology industry. I worked a few jobs at tech companies, mostly in sales and marketing roles.

I realized while working at those companies that I was much more interested in the programming side of things, and not the sales and marketing work. I realized that I wanted to build my own tech products, and that not knowing how to code was a barrier to that. So when I was 25, I decided to change my career path and join a coding bootcamp in Toronto.

Can you tell me about your experience at the bootcamp?

I joined Bitmaker Labs (now part of General Assembly) in 2015 and enrolled in their full-time Immersive Web Development course, which focused primarily on Ruby on Rails, but we also learned HTML, CSS, Javascript, AJAX, and jQuery. Joining that course was a great experience for me. The instructors came from successful tech companies here in Toronto, and being surrounded by other students who were excited about learning to code was really beneficial to my success in the course.

In my opinion, having a community of like-minded people around is really important to learning anything, especially programming. Learning in a collaborative environment and being able to ask questions face-to-face with the instructors offers something you can’t really find when learning with online tutorials. Don’t get me wrong, I think learning to code with online tutorials works for a lot of people and is a great place to start, but I don’t think it can be compared to my experience at Bitmaker Labs.

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Did you ever consider doing a degree in Computer Science and if not, why?

I thought about going back to school to get a Computer Science degree in my mid-twenties, after I had already finished getting a degree in a totally unrelated field. I did research on universities and the programs they offered, and I even began the preparations to apply to Computer Science programs.

While getting my applications ready, I realized I didn’t want to make the time commitment or the financial commitment of getting another Undergraduate degree. A four year degree was way too time consuming, and obviously very expensive, so I started looking at other options. I did some research on the different coding school here in Toronto, and ultimately settled on Bitmaker Labs.

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Can you talk us through the process of getting your first job as a web developer?

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