How One Millennial Jump-Started His Career Without Racking Up Debt
When Ryan Krolick hit the income ceiling in his field, he took a chance on a coding bootcamp - and he hasn't looked back.
Ryan Krolick’s career was stuck in neutral.
He was in that stage a lot of us reach – not miserable but not fired up, either. In fact, only 29% of millennials say they’re engaged at work, according to a recent Gallup report.1 Ryan was in the 71%. He was earning an hourly wage that added up to around $45,000 per year and says felt he “wasn’t going to move much beyond that.”
Other than cost of living increases, raises weren’t in the cards if he stayed at his job because there wasn’t any room to grow. He was close to the income ceiling in his field, and his job didn’t feel like a career. Some kind of major change was in order if he wanted more exciting work and a bigger paycheck.
The Skills Gap
If you’ve looked for a job or tried to hire a new employee recently, you’ve probably noticed that job listings stay up for weeks or even months before being filled. That’s partly due to the lengthy hiring process that companies are using these days, but it also indicates a mismatch between the skills job-seekers have and the skills employers are looking for.
In STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), that mismatch is especially pronounced. According to the Brookings Institution, “the median duration of advertising for a STEM vacancy is more than twice as long as for a non-STEM vacancy.”3
Some highly motivated individuals are seizing the opportunity to snap up the highly-paid STEM positions that employers are struggling to fill. That was Ryan’s story.
Ryan graduated from college in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, but says he struggled to find a job after college. “I graduated from college expecting - oh, now that I have a degree everyone’s going to give me a job and that turned out not to be the case, so that’s when I started doing tech support.”
There was nothing wrong with the tech support and administrative jobs he held during the 10 years after he graduated, but by late 2015 he was feeling a little stuck. Without acquiring new skills, Ryan felt he had no way to make the jump to a job that would pay more and be more stimulating. “I decided I needed to do something to make myself marketable to the modern age,” Ryan said.
Only 49.17% percent of coding bootcamp attendees self-fund their studies, according to a 2015 survey.4 Ryan didn’t have extensive savings or family money to turn to, and figured he’d be one of the 18.97% of bootcamp students who use an external loan to fund their course.5 He was worried, though, about how much a personal loan would cost him.
Getting Help… at a Fair Rate
“The current credit score system doesn’t work well for millennials,” says Oren Bass, personal loan expert and CEO of personal loan company,. “Most companies focus on history and current income so millennials who are at the beginning of their career end up paying more than they should in interest.” Companies like , though, determine how creditworthy a loan candidate is by taking into consideration things like earning potential. A bootcamp graduate can look very attractive from this perspective.
Some bootcamps advertise a hiring rate of 99% for graduates. And on average, graduates of coding bootcamps increase their salaries by 38%, according to a Course Report survey.6 Ryan’s salary actually increased by 56%.
Ryan’s APR on his $11,000is 13%. Plus, the deferred payment option on his loan meant he didn’t have to start making payments until after his program ended. That meant he could quit his job to do the web development course without having to worry about making loan payments while enrolled.
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Taking Control of a Career
Job-hopping in pursuit of new and better opportunities is normal for millennials. In fact, millennials are on track to experience three times as many job changes as Baby Boomers by the time they retire.8 According to a recent Gallup report on how millennials work and live, 60% of millennials are open to different job opportunities. 36% say they plan to look for a job with a different employer in the next 12 months.9
Ryan used the money he borrowed to cover his tuition and living expenses while at a coding bootcamp.
“Now I actually have a career. I’m still new to this, but it feels like the sky’s the limit,”
A Bright Future
But Ryan didn’t just want a different job. He wanted a better job. Because Ryan already worked in tech support and had a BA in Computer Science, training as a web developer seemed like a perfect solution to his career malaise. Re-training as a developer may also prove to be a wise investment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field of Web Developers will grow by 27% between 2014 and 2024. That’s much faster than the average rate of growth for all fields.10
Ryan has been working as a full-stack web developer since June 2016, soon after he finished the course at General Assembly. “I found it much easier to get a job out of GA than out of college,” he told us. He’s on track to pay off hison time and says the monthly payments are well within his budget now that he’s making $15,000 more at a startup.
Ryan says coding is in his DNA. He’s finally doing the job he feels he was meant to do. “Now I actually have a career. I’m still new to this, but it feels like the sky’s the limit,” Ryan says. “Moving up is not going to be a problem from here on out.”
Going from neutral to "the sky's the limit."
Ryan graduated with a Computer Science degree and held tech support and administrative jobs for 10 years.
He was stuck in neutral.
After moving to D.C., Ryan decided to enroll in General Assembly's Web Development Immersive to level up his skills and get a better job.
Ryan has been working as a full-stack web developer since June 2016, soon after he finished the course at General Assembly.
He's making $15,000 more per year.
"Now I actually have a career. I'm still new to this but it feels like the sky's the limit."