Paying It Forward: Rich Dutton Is Taking His Boot Camp Skills and Sharing Them in a Big Way
Rich Dutton enrolled at the UW Extended Campus Coding Boot Camp to expand his already diverse skill set. He knew that in order to make himself more marketable, he had to widen his knowledge and learn something entirely foreign to him.
After completing the boot camp program, Rich used his knowledge to help the next generation learn coding. He was quickly hired by the Milwaukee School of Excellence, a tuition-free, public charter high school, to help students learn coding and prepare for higher education.
Check out our conversation with Rich below.
How did you gain an interest in coding?
RD: I had gotten interested in coding because I follow different sectors of technology, and I think of myself as an idea person. My mind is always generating new ideas. I’ll jot them down when they come to me using whatever writing materials are available—whether it’s my phone, a napkin, or a notebook. I’m also plugged in to where the world is going today, and a lot of our future growth is rooted in careers that are fully driven by technology. Coding was a great opportunity to learn and add a new attribute to my skill set.
Since you went into the program without a lot of previous knowledge, what was daily life like in the program? Did you find it challenging?
RD: Day-to-day life was an adjustment and schedule change like none other. My family had to quickly adjust to having me around less for three days a week. But it was a rewarding stressor, knowing I was doing the right thing for myself and my family. Learning a new language of code per week and meeting homework deadlines was rough at first, but I eventually fell into a schedule that kept me in line. The learning curve was eye opening; the instructors didn’t sugarcoat how fast-paced boot camp would be. It turns out this was exactly what I needed to succeed.
What was your favorite part of the program? The most challenging?
RD: My favorite part was the progression: moving from the basics to understanding the parameters of what we can create, and why. The most challenging things through this boot camp were the scheduling and learning everything at the pace we did. And of course, the weekly homework was challenging. If you utilized help from instructors and classmates, it was totally achievable.
What is it like to teach at the Milwaukee School of Excellence?
RD: The Milwaukee School of Excellence is a 6th- through 12th-grade charter school dedicated to preparing our youth for a college degree. My new skills come in handy on a daily basis. I use Code HS—and all the knowledge I learned in boot camp—to teach the middle school grades about the future of technology. Thanks to boot camp, my students are at the forefront of these advancements!
Do you have any advice for other adults or students looking to learn to code?
RD: My advice for future students is to buckle down, take notes, and have a vision. Take advantage of your teachers and instructors and all the tools that are given to you. And don’t forget to let yourself explore. Chances are the ideas and thoughts you have are things that can help you be successful in the future.