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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.

Millennial Job Satisfaction
Skills Employers Look for on Resumes

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.

Job Burnout

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.

He’d heard about the coding bootcamp General Assembly and decided to give it a try after a move to D.C. put him in range of one of the GA campuses. In just three months, enrollees in General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive learn skills like JavaScript and Rails and build their own websites and apps. Ryan thought the program sounded like a great chance to level up, but there was a catch. He didn’t have the money to pay for the $13,500 course, or cover his living expenses over three months at the coding bootcamp.

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.

I decided I needed to do something to make myself marketable to the modern age

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, Pave. “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 Pave, 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 $11,000 Pave loan is 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.

Coding Bootcamp Salary Increase

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Taking Control of a Career

Ryan used the money he borrowed to cover his tuition and living expenses while at a coding bootcamp. The three-month program was intense, sure, but it got him where he wanted to go. He learned JavaScript and created two games. He built a website that allowed users to upload their own games for sharing. He collaborated with classmates on apps. And when it was over, he got a job as a software engineer.

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 his Pave loan on 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.”

The Field of Web Developers is Growing
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's Pave loan:

Interest Rate:

Monthly Payments
with a loan term of 3 years

Deferred payment option
No payment due until after the General Assembly program ended.

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."

Important Information:

The following examples depict the APR, monthly payment and total payments during the life of a $10,000 personal loan. As a $10,000 loan payment example, a three-year $10,000 loan with a 13.63% APR would have 36 scheduled monthly payments of $329.76, and a two-year $10,000 loan with a 13.63% APR would have 24 scheduled monthly payments of $475.42. As a $20,000 loan payment example, a three-year $20,000 loan with 13.63% APR would have scheduled 36 monthly payments of $659.52, and a two-year $20,000 loan with a 13.63% APR would have 24 scheduled monthly payments of $ 936.81.

APR ranges from 7.18% - 31.16% which includes an origination fee between 1% and 6%. You may be eligible for a loan amount from $3,000 up to $25,000. Repayment terms for 2 or 3 years.

All loans are made by Cross River Bank, an FDIC insured New Jersey state chartered commercial bank. Pave, Inc. – 200 Varick Street Suite 802 New York, NY 10014

Student outcome data (including graduation and employment data) is based on the cited independent research, and neither the data nor the related methodology has been verified by Pave. These data are not school-specific, and do not represent the outcomes for any particular program or coding academy, and should not be relied on as such. As with any important decision, you should carefully consider your individual circumstances, outcome information provided to you by any coding academy that you are considering attending, and any other generally available information regarding coding academy students’ outcomes. Note that Pave has commercial relationships with its coding academy partners, which may provide financial benefits to Pave or to those coding academy partners if you choose to finance the cost of your attendance at a coding academy with Pave.

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Pave is not affiliated with or endorsed by General Assembly.

All quotes are portions of an actual interview with Ryan on September 13, 2016


  1. http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/191459/millennials-job-hopping-generation.aspx
  2. http://www.naceweb.org/s11182015/employers-look-for-in-new-hires.aspx
  3. https://www.brookings.edu/interactives/still-searching-job-vacancies-and-stem-skills/
  4. https://www.coursereport.com/reports/2015-coding-bootcamp-job-placement-demographics-report (“Tuition & Funding”)
  5. https://www.coursereport.com/reports/2015-coding-bootcamp-job-placement-demographics-report (“Tuition & Funding”)
  6. https://www.coursereport.com/reports/2015-coding-bootcamp-job-placement-demographics-report
  7. Your APR and loan amount will be determined based on your credit score, credit usage, credit history, income and certain other information provided at the time of application. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, and a valid bank account and Social Security number are required. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Approval of your loan is contingent upon meeting our eligibility requirements, our verification of your information, and your agreement to all the terms and conditions on the www.pave.com website.
  8. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/diverse-and-competitive/201503/are-millennials-more-likely-switch-jobs-and-employers
  9. http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/191459/millennials-job-hopping-generation.aspx
  10. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm

Photo Credits: ©iStock.com/chargerv8, ©iStock.com/Dwight Nadig