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🎙 About the episode
Meet Johnny Proano 🇺🇸! Johnny had a long and happy career in sales, spanning almost two decades. But, something was missing, so he decided to explore coding. He thought he had to have a degree, but when it turned out he couldn't afford it, he enrolled into a bootcamp and signed up for Scrimba.
This is a fun and exciting story about career change and looking for your purpose. It is also a story of networking at your daughter's school events, as well as learning Angular and TypeScript (and creating a project using them) in only three days! You'll hear how Johnny approached learning and what kept him going, how to introduce software engineering to toddlers, and how can you turn your failed job interviews in learning experiences once and for all.
🔗 Connect with Johnny
- How Johnny discovered coding because he needed a website (01:35)
- Why Johnny wanted to switch from a successful and long-lasting career in sales (04:38)
- How did Johnny learn to code, and why did he have to drop out of school (08:07)
- Community break with Jan the Producer (13:36)
- Johnny's bootcamp experience... and how he found Scrimba (16:02)
- How Johnny started applying for jobs, and how he dealt with imposter syndrome (18:27)
- Johnny's approach to job applications and LinkedIn (20:33)
- Quick-fire questions: DJing, learning resources, and Vue (24:09)
- How Johnny turned failed interviews into learning opportunities (26:23)
- Johnny got a job via networking at his daughter's school event! (26:56)
- How Johnny had only three days to learn a new technology and get ready for an interview (29:30)
- "I need to do something that's going to make an impact" (31:52)
- Interview tip: ask questions (36:11)
- Johnny got a job offer within 24 hours! (36:37)
- Do you need a degree to be a developer? (38:59)
- Coding for toddlers (39:39)
🧰 Resources mentioned
⭐️ Leave a Review
If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a 5-star review here and tell us who you want to see on the next podcast.
You can also Tweet Alex from Scrimba at @bookercodes and tell them what lessons you learned from the episode so that he can thank you personally for tuning in 🙏 Or tell Jan he's butchered your name here.
Johnny Proano (00:00):
I went through the whole course on Monday. Tuesday, I found some YouTube content on Angular. On Wednesday, I was like, "Oh man, I have one more day left. The best way to learn is just to start a project." One of the questions that they did ask is, "How long did it take you to put that project together?" And I was like, "Maybe, well, seven, eight hours."
Jan Arsenovic (00:19):
Welcome to The Scrimba Podcast on this weekly show we interview recently hired junior developers, senior developers, and hiring managers to help you learn to code and get your first job in tech. Today we're talking to Johnny Proano. Johnny had a long, happy, and successful career in sales. When I say long, I mean 18 years, but something was missing. He discovered coding because he's also a DJ and at one point he needed a website and decided to explore that interest further. At first, he thought that to be a software engineer, he should have a CS degree, and he started studying for it, but then ran out of funding. After a coding bootcamp and Scrimba's front-end career path, he started applying for jobs and getting rejected. Eventually, he landed an opportunity while at the most unlikely of places, at his daughter's school during a father-daughter dance, and then he had to learn a new technology in only four days. Yeah, you heard it right. This is a fun and exciting story with a lot of actionable advice. You're listening to The Scrimba Podcast. Let's get into it.
Johnny Proano (01:35):
Years ago, I was one of the Geek Squad agents and a few of my team members there were jiggling around with C++, and I just kept hearing stuff like that around. At the same time, I was getting into DJing, which is another passion of mine and love music and all that stuff, and I needed to come up with a website. And one of my buddies that was also up here with me working at the same spot, he was doing a computer science degree. Honestly, back then I was like, "I don't even know what that is, but okay, sure." He's like, "Let me help you out. I'll build this for you."
So I saw some of the stuff on the side on there, but nothing came about with that website and I had to figure out some other avenues in that sense, and so my DJ career at that time was flourishing and I was getting a lot of gigs and I was just looking for stuff online and I found some drag and drop stuff, no code necessary, just build your website, and I did the job at the time, but I was limited to some things. I saw some people's websites and I was like, "Oh man, how does this work and I want to do that."
I started just playing with some of the stuff that I saw online, and that's the first instances of where that came about. I think the last part, what made me even more interested and motivated to just take it a step further was a few years later I was watching the news, a Spanish network, and they were talking about this particular kid, Michael Sayman, and how he was going through some rough times, his parents, and nonetheless, he created this app that he built from scratch, learning the code at home, YouTube and stuff like that, and became super successful. I think he got hired at Facebook at 17 or something like that. So that motivated me to be like, "Well, if he can do it, I can do it," type of thing. It's such a cool, genuine story.
Alex Booker (03:24):
Michael Sayman is a bit of a legend. I think the app he made was called 4 Snaps.
Johnny Proano (03:30):
Alex Booker (03:30):
And then he caught the attention of Mark Zuckerberg, who then hired him at Facebook, and I think they jokingly called him Facebook's teen in residence because he was only 18 at the time, and then he went on, I think, to take part in Instagram Stories and just had massive influence. That's really cool that he inspired you.
Johnny Proano (03:50):
And like I said, I just stumbled upon it and I can say he changed my career, changed my life at the same time.
Alex Booker (03:56):
You mentioned you were working at Geek Squad, which sounds really familiar to me, but I also don't exactly know what it is or what it does. What was the company and what were you doing there at the time?
Johnny Proano (04:05):
You heard of Best Buy and then Geek Squad, I think it was out of London and got acquired or maybe they merged and they opened up Geek Squad locations in every retail store, and at the time I was in sales, part-time I started off with and then moved up the chain and I got into Geek Squad a little bit as a leader. I was very interested in it.
Alex Booker (04:25):
They sold consumer electronics like laptops and stuff like that?
Johnny Proano (04:29):
Correct. And the Geek Squad particularly anytime Best Buy sold whatever electronic it was, we'll be like the service center, I guess you say it now and within the store.
Alex Booker (04:38):
How did you enjoy doing sales?
Johnny Proano (04:41):
It was good. I loved it. I loved it for such a long time. Like I said, I went up the ranks and it's funny how I got into sales, but it was by mistake I guess you want to call it, but it is what it is, it got me there and I went up the ladder.
Alex Booker (04:52):
How long for?
Johnny Proano (04:53):
I think it was, I'm trying to think, 18 years?
Alex Booker (04:56):
Whoa. All right. That's a long time in that career for sure.
Johnny Proano (05:00):
So I was there for quite some time at different levels, part-time, full-time, and all the way up to management. I'm just pivoted different directions to different companies in sales, and don't get me wrong, I loved it. It was a huge part of my life. I think I took a lot of the stuff that I learned there, like the networking pieces, being able to talk to people.
Alex Booker (05:17):
It sounds like most of your career wasn't retail necessarily, but when you were doing retail, I feel like that's one of those experiences that's very unique because you just deal with so many different types of people, first of all, and then there will of course be difficult people from time to time, and then you have to be so patient, so adaptive. I feel like these are skills that you only learn in those kind of jobs.
Johnny Proano (05:40):
There's always those customers and clients that make it difficult, but you find ways and you find the good and turn it around. That's the point of that being in sales.
Alex Booker (05:49):
No, I love that attitude. Well, it begs the question, why did you switch to coding after what sounds like both a successful and quite a happy career in sales for almost two decades?
Johnny Proano (06:00):
I know, right? Like I said, I love sales. I think I got to a point, and I don't want to bag sales or anything like that, but I just felt like it got to a point where I just wanted to do something that was meaningful, that was going to change lives and make an impact, and I didn't find that in sales for me. I did find impact and I did make changes when it came to employees that I managed, and I think that was my grace. I loved doing that. I loved helping people during that time, but when I started fiddling with the website, something just clicked for me at that point that's like, "Oh man, this is cool." And then I heard about the Michael Sayman story and I'm like, "This is even cooler." And I felt like that spark in me that was like, "I feel like that's something that's going to make me feel different and something's going to make me feel like I'm going to make a difference. It can really happen that way." So that was that start and that spark that I needed.
Alex Booker (06:49):
Absolutely. It's cool that you got that feeling right away, that excitement around code. I had it earlier today even where I got something working and I just leaned back in my chair and I'm like, "Ha ha, that's cool." And it doesn't really go away sometimes, but not only that, I feel like software is, and you're very astute, I think, to zone in on this, it is one of the most impactful industries and careers right now because the impact you had when you were a manager that you described, you can have that over here as well. But then in coding, there's so much peer to peer help as well where we're helping out people in the community or who are at the same level in a role.
Software is all built on the shoulders of giants, if you see what I mean. We're all sharing each other's work and trying to move each other forward because we're all self-taught to an extent. You're always having to teach yourself new things as a developer, I feel like there's that inherent empathy around helping others. And that creates impact, first of all, the people side, the developer side, but then what you do with your code, the impact of your code. That could be world changing potentially just to put a very grand spin on it. But of course there are all kinds of flavors of applications and code you can write.
Johnny Proano (07:57):
No, I definitely agree. Like I said, that's one of the main reasons I came over here and the ability to just work with so many people, just create stuff that was just super cool to me.
Alex Booker (08:07):
How did you go about teaching yourself to code?
Johnny Proano (08:09):
So back then, I started figuring out what resources were out there and the one that I found at that time was Codecademy. It just happened to pop up and I just jumped on it and I think the language that I jumped on was Swift, at the time, if I can remember. I made some dice game and I thought that was super cool. It wasn't like I created it all myself, but I followed direction to do it and then when it was done, it was a little small project that I just thought was pretty cool. But that was the first instance, but then as things flourished after that, I wanted to just take it a step further.
During that time that I was working in sales, I was trying to get one of the higher positions at the time in leadership, and I had gone to school at ASU to get a degree and I just happened to be in liberal studies, which helped my sales portion out of it, but in that degree there was an extra class I could take and you get some extra credit on there, and I took probably the worst thing ever. I took C++ and that was horrible for me because it was just super hard to learn and going from [inaudible 00:09:15] Codecademy to just C++ in school and just trying to do homework, it was just a rough time.
But I got the degree and it helped me out in my sales portion of it, but I still had that itch of what I need to do. So I had jumped on Scrimba initially, it was just exploring some of the courses. I didn't do the Frontend Developer Path until later on, but I saw the HTML portion of it, so I just went through it and then I decided, "You know what? Maybe I need a degree in software engineering." That was the big question for me, and I think that was haunting me my entire path, I guess you want to call it, like, "Do I need the degree or not?" I'm like, "I have one already."
Alex Booker (09:54):
You have a degree, but it was like a minor in C++ basically.
Johnny Proano (09:59):
Not really. So the C++ was just an extra class. I had liberal studies, which was abroad, and it helped me get positioned over in leadership in one of my other companies. And at the time, I didn't know how serious. I was like, "Oh man, can I really make a change in the career?" I just wasn't sure about life at that time. Do talking to my wife, I was like, "I think I need to go get another degree, but in software engineering." So I went back, signed up, and there was this front end G-I-T.
Alex Booker (10:27):
Johnny Proano (10:28):
You just sign up for it during the summer and teach really basic low level like HTML/CSS stuff and get your foot in the door type of thing. And ASU had that and at the same time I was like, "You know what? You get six credit hours at the end, why not? I'll get a little certificate, I'll get six credit hours, it goes towards my ASU degree and all that stuff. Fantastic." Come the fall, I get this email that says that FAFSA is going to no longer cover me for my degree. That's because I already had a degree and my FAFSA covered it for that first degree. So the second degree was not going to be covered for the last, I think I have a year left.
Alex Booker (11:47):
Is that a program that subsidizes the cost of the degree basically?
Johnny Proano (11:51):
Correct. So essentially you sign up for FAFSA and they loan the amount and it allows you to just go through school and then after you're done with school, six months later, you start paying it off. I was like, "Oh my gosh, what to do now?" Type of thing. And I was like, "I can't be an engineer if I don't have the degree." And that was my thought, and that was just the big thing and now I know that it's okay not to have a degree. So essentially what ended up happening, I talked to somebody from that Podium Global Tech Experience that I did at ASU. She had mentioned like, "Hey, let's connect on LinkedIn. You ever need anything, let me know."
She left this door open for me and I felt comfortable, so I just reached out and called and we discussed a little bit and after talking, honestly, she talked about this bootcamp, like it was, "You fit the right description, I think you're motivated and you're passionate and you really care." And she just feels really genuine to help out, and she really recommended Actualize, this bootcamp in Chicago and I just went for it. I was like, "You know what? I think you convinced me," and that day I just removed myself from all the rest of my classes because I wasn't going to be able to pay for it anyways.
Alex Booker (13:01):
Johnny Proano (13:01):
I removed myself. I didn't get the degree. I just stopped it there. Maybe one day I'll get it, but-
Alex Booker (13:07):
I don't think you will. I'm just saying, I think you're doing great without it.
Johnny Proano (13:10):
I took a shot, my wife pushed me and she's like, "Just do it. Just do it. Just do it." And I was like, "Okay, sure, I'll do it." And I think I just needed that and I went for it and joined the bootcamp and at the same time I just like, "You know what? Let me just sign up for Scrimba, let me do the Frontend Developer Path." And I was just doing both.
Jan Arsenovic (13:29):
Coming up, Johnny was applying to 50 jobs a week, but all he needed was a father-daughter dance.
Johnny Proano (13:36):
And keep in mind, the music is pounding for the kids. It was like Kidz Bop or something, but nonetheless, it was loud. One of the other parents must've overheard me...
Jan Arsenovic (13:45):
But first let's take a look at your social media posts and your reviews. Akra Dev tweeted, "Just listened to The Scrimba Podcast with Shona Chan and she said something that really resonated with me. People always think about the sunk costs of switching careers into tech. On the other hand, they don't think about what the costs are if they don't take that step." Oh yeah, that's a nugget of wisdom right there. Mustaf tweeted, "Really enjoying The Scrimba Podcast, the episode, 'Treat Learning to Code Like an RPG with Tomáš Lukeš' is a must listen. Not the latest, but it's full of valuable insights."
Oh yeah, I agree. That was a good one as well. And here's a five star review from Apple Podcasts, formerly known as iTunes, from a Steven from the United States, and it says, "Continuing to learn. I'm a recent graduate of Nashville Software School making a transition into software development after 24 years as a pastor. The podcast has been a continual source of encouragement and I recently signed up for Scrimba Pro to continue to develop my skills and build projects to add to my portfolio. Keep up the good work."
Thank you. Wow, A career switch after 24 years. I'm really happy we get to inspire people to do that. If you would like to get a shout-out on the show, these people just did, just talk about it on social media. You can post about us on X, aka Twitter, or on LinkedIn. As long as your posts contain the words Scrimba Podcast, we will find them and you might end up on the show. You can also leave us a rating or a review in your podcast app of choice. The reviews I've been reading here lately are mainly from Apple Podcasts, but we also had some reviews from Castbox and from Podchaser.
Basically if the app where you listen to your podcasts has an option to leave a rating or review and you feel really supportive, please do so. It really helps to a small podcast like ours and the more people hear about us, the stronger we'll become and the bigger and better guests we're going to be able to get onto the show. And now we're going back to the interview with Johnny.
Alex Booker (16:02):
Johnny, the bootcamp, was it sponsored or something, or did you have to pay for it out of your own pocket?
Johnny Proano (16:08):
I did pay for it out of my own pocket. I only had enough for that fall semester, so I was thinking of just sticking it through until the loan wasn't going to work anymore with the school. I loved the school, don't get me wrong, it's just circumstances, but I ended up using what I had left for this career, or the shot, and I put it towards the bootcamp. My mom was like, "You know what? It's like a semester. It's three, four months and we have it. Let's go ahead and invest in it and let's just try it out."
Alex Booker (16:36):
What was that experience like doing the bootcamp alongside Scrimba? That sounds like an information, I don't want to call it an overload, but it does sound like a lot of information, to say the least. How did you structure your studies doing both?
Johnny Proano (16:48):
Well, initially when the bootcamp was starting, I was like, "Oh, I really got to get my stuff together." The prerequisites for the bootcamp was to have some basic knowledge on HTML/CSS, which I got out of ASU and the school and everything. But I really wanted to, I don't want to say be really good or the best at it because I know it takes a while and just a lot of practice for it, but I wanted to have a good background coming in, so that's when I signed up and I think it was a month before I started the bootcamp, but then when I started the bootcamp, it was a lot of hours and so I had Scrimba just there and reviewing occasionally.
I didn't really go forward hardcore on the Frontend Developer Path until closer to the end of the bootcamp just because I was really focused on it and I was still working at the time, it was a nine to five, and then I would get out of work and then at 6:30 the bootcamp starts and I won't be out until 11 o'clock at night. So it was pretty intense. And that was Tuesday through Sunday or something like that. So it was a pretty intense bootcamp.
Alex Booker (17:49):
So that's interesting then because presumably as the bootcamp was ending, you wanted to continue learning and it was probably quite handy that you already had Scrimba on the go. Did you shift the focus then from the bootcamp to Scrimba and just kept learning on that platform?
Johnny Proano (18:06):
I definitely shifted over. At the end of the bootcamp, Scrimba was one of the resources they recommended, which was funny because I was already listening to the podcast. That's why they were like, "Are you an ambassador for Scrimba?" And I was like, "No, but I really like it, so I'm going to just continue on with the projects and just going to go through the Developer Path." So that's when I just jumped through the full throttle.
Alex Booker (18:27):
Some people, they find one thing and they do that from beginning to end, so they might do a CS degree, they might do a bootcamp, they might be self-taught on Scrimba and just do that. But you did some school, you did some bootcamp, and you did some Scrimba. And I suppose along the way there were a few checkpoints. You could say that after you've done however many semesters, then you could start applying for jobs. Some people say, "When I finished the bootcamp, then I'll start applying for jobs." Other people, they take it based on feeling. How did you decide you were ready to start applying for jobs and shift gears from just being a learner to being a learner who was also proactive about looking for an opportunity?
Johnny Proano (19:08):
It's funny because in the bootcamp it was like a Wednesday, we had a specific person that wasn't the instructor, but she pushed us on working on resumes. And one of the requirements to have was your resume updated, shifted to being a software engineer and in that direction. And at the same time, it was recommended that we start applying before the bootcamp was finished. And they go through it and check it for you and all that stuff and practicing and all that stuff. And that's what I was doing. There was a little system that they used to track how many applications you put out. So that helped me get that push. Otherwise, I was looking at some of those things on LinkedIn and Indeed, and it was like five to seven years as a junior and I was like, "What's going on?" And I hear in every podcast it's like imposter syndrome kicking in every time.
Alex Booker (20:00):
That five to seven year thing is just so inaccurate, but I can't blame anybody who sees it and gets second thoughts.
Johnny Proano (20:07):
Even the ones that say three to five, two to three. But I'm like, "Okay, starting off it's like what direction do I need to go? Should I apply? Should I not apply?" And all these questions come about when you're doing it. And luckily I did have some direction to help me out and it pushed me forward trying to get that hump away from the imposter syndrome thing.
Alex Booker (20:29):
So once you decided to move ahead with it, what was your strategy in terms of getting a job?
Johnny Proano (20:33):
Alex Booker (20:58):
So yours might've been something to do with sales before, right, because that's what you've been doing for 18 years. But then you changed the heading to something to do with development presumably.
Johnny Proano (21:08):
Exactly and the funny thing is I couldn't do none of that while I was in sales. I was in sales all through the bootcamp.
Alex Booker (21:14):
Oh, you were still working during the bootcamp? I forgot to ask you about that.
Johnny Proano (21:18):
I was still working.
Alex Booker (21:19):
Oh, fair play.
Johnny Proano (21:20):
I couldn't change my LinkedIn yet though, until maybe a couple weeks, I know there was a lot of changes and stuff and I just felt stuff coming and so I was like, "You know what? I'm going to go full throttle. Let me just go ahead and LinkedIn update everything." They said, "Do this." They said, "Change this, change your bio a little bit, add some of the languages, some of the stuff you're working on and projects." And I did all of that.
Alex Booker (21:43):
Did it work?
Johnny Proano (21:44):
Yes and no. You do what you can and some of it's demoralizing when you don't get a response back. I would try different things like messaging somebody, not in a sense like, "Give me a job," more like, "Hey," I hear all the time on the podcast, "Hey, I saw you did this. This is pretty cool project. Can you walk me through?" And then try to build something like that. But at the same time though, I was still applying, I think it was maybe 50 applications a week that I was doing. I would just spend two hours, three hours just going through and at first I was being picky, like, "Oh, this is not going to be me. They're asking for way too much." And that's where some of those come in play like five to seven years type of thing. And I'm like, "I don't know if this is going to work, not unless it says junior, I'm not going to apply."
Alex Booker (22:32):
By the way, were these jobs in a specific area or just all across America?
Johnny Proano (22:36):
I was looking for this to be whether in Florida, where I'm at, I don't mind a commute or anything like that, or if best case scenario remote for sure. So I was doing a little bit of both.
Alex Booker (22:46):
That makes sense how you got to 50 a week. I feel like if it's in a local area, there just probably aren't 50 jobs a week going on the platform for relevant to where you're at. I think if you expand it globally or even to your country, in your case America, I think there's a chance, but it is still a lot of jobs to apply for every week. I know it doesn't sound like a lot relative to the number of jobs out there, but 50 a week is a lot. I always advocate for a slightly more focused approach, but at the same time I can't blame anybody for shooting their shot as well. It does work on occasion.
Johnny Proano (23:17):
And after bootcamp, I still wanted to do the Frontend Developer Path and I wanted to complete it, so I was working on that. I was separating specific hours for that. And then maybe on Tuesday or Thursday I would do 20 applications here, 20 applications there. And on top of it, I am married, I do have two kids. I coach my kids' soccer team. So it's like I had to manage all that together and it's like when you really want something, I just found ways to just take care of it and that's what got me going. I just saw my kids and where I'm at, the push that I got from my wife, the path from where I was in sales to the bootcamp part, I was just like, "You know what? I need to put this full throttle and just go for it." And everyone supported me, so it just helped a lot.
Alex Booker (24:00):
I'd love to learn a bit more about how you got your specific opportunity that you're working now, but what do you say we do a round of quick fire questions first?
Johnny Proano (24:09):
Yeah, definitely. Let's do it.
Alex Booker (24:13):
I was wondering, since you used a DJ, do you still DJ?
Johnny Proano (24:16):
Yes, I do. I moved from Chicago to Florida recently and I just finished hooking up all my stuff, honestly yesterday.
Alex Booker (24:24):
So you are like a dad, a husband, you're coaching the soccer team, you're learning to code, you're starting a new job, and you're DJing as well.
Johnny Proano (24:31):
Yeah, I try to make time for the stuff that I really love to do.
Alex Booker (24:36):
Do you prefer front end or backend?
Johnny Proano (24:37):
Alex Booker (24:53):
What is the one learning resource that has been the most impactful?
Johnny Proano (24:58):
Does it have to be one?
Alex Booker (24:59):
Johnny Proano (24:59):
Alex Booker (25:00):
Yes, it has to be one.
Johnny Proano (25:03):
Scrimba is going to be it. Besides that, the bootcamp. I would say Scrimba and bootcamp were the two big definitions of where I'm at now.
Alex Booker (25:10):
The bootcamp was called Actualize, right?
Johnny Proano (25:12):
Alex Booker (25:13):
Johnny, what is your favorite technology at the moment?
Johnny Proano (25:15):
My favorite technology I'd say that I was getting into was React, but at the moment I am all into Angular, mostly because I had to shift gears for my new job, my new career. So they were all Angular and so I had to pick that up and I've been doing a lot of projects on Angular.
Alex Booker (25:31):
What about a technology you'd like to learn next?
Johnny Proano (25:32):
I've had some experience with React. I've had some experience now with Angular. There are some things in Vue that I'm going to have to look through at work as well, so I want to learn Vue. I want to see what the difference is between all of them and get my own opinion about it.
Alex Booker (25:46):
What music do you like to code to as a DJ?
Johnny Proano (25:50):
Because of the podcast, I was like, "Let me try lo-fi. I keep hearing it." So I started trying it, I started looking up hip hop and the pop lo-fi on Apple Music, but obviously I'm a DJ, so I go to Mixcloud and that's where a lot of the DJs post all their mixes, all their blends, and all their shows and podcasts that they have. So Mixcloud, probably one of my favorites. Nice.
Alex Booker (26:09):
Nice. I used to really rate Mixcloud as well because you get those 60, 90 minute mixes, they blend together. That really coincides I think with a coding session sometimes.
Johnny Proano (26:19):
Alex Booker (26:23):
Tell us a little bit about how you got this specific opportunity.
Johnny Proano (26:27):
I had five interviews prior to this last one, and the five interviews came out of LinkedIn applications and it was turned down and one of them, I had three interviews, but there was just someone that had a little bit more experience than me. It was just an ongoing thing. And what I ended up doing was just taking the bits and pieces of each interview, putting in a notepad and just stuff that I didn't get or understand. I would just look it up and just write it down and just be ready for the next interview.
Alex Booker (26:55):
That's really good.
Johnny Proano (26:56):
And I just kept building off of that, so I still have it now. And it's funny because I share it with... I became a TA at my bootcamp afterwards and I shared it with my team afterwards as well. But funny enough, let's take away a little bit from coding and let's take a break and let me go hang out with my daughter. She was having an event, a father-daughter dance, and as part of the networking and me trying to see all avenues, I just talked about it, talked about what I was doing, talked about the career change that I was looking to make. I was genuinely excited about it. So I think that resonated with a lot of people when I was talking to them.
And I was doing it everywhere, whether it's a neighborhood event or just my next door neighbor came in or my family members. But this particular event, father-daughter dance, I was talking to another parent and I was geeking out. I would like pull out my phone, have my portfolio. I was like, "Oh, check this out. I made this. This is pretty cool." And they were like, "Oh, that's cool." And it was just like he was scrolling through and I was just explaining things and he was like, "Oh, how'd you do that?" And it was just a genuine conversation.
Alex Booker (28:01):
I love that.
Johnny Proano (28:02):
I know, I know. And out of nowhere, and keep in mind the music is pounding for the kids. It was like Kidz Bop or something, but nonetheless, it was loud. And one of the other parents must've overheard me and just went around me and he's like, "Oh, what do you do?" And I was like, "Well, I was in sales," and at the time when the bootcamp finished, I stopped working at that location. I just went full throttle on TAing and stuff. So I was like, "Oh, I'm a TA at this bootcamp and I'm looking to get a new job in software development or software engineering. These are my projects." And I was just sharing with this other parent and it just led to a conversation and he was just scrolling and looking through it and he is like, "Oh, this is pretty cool."
Like the Frontend Development Path. And so he's like, "Oh, okay." And that was it. And I was like, "You know what? Whatever, you know what?" But I'm like, "Hey, what's going on? Let me know what's up." And he's like, "Well, I have something. It could be the contract or full-time." And he's like, "But they're looking for Angular and TypeScript." I was like, "Look, give me a few days and circle back with me. I would love to just at least get a chance to interview or something like that." So I think he just gave me the chance right there. He's like, "All right, look, let's put something together, read up on it. Let's just talk what your current path has been and what you've done. And we'll set up an interview for a Thursday or something like that."
And this was Thursday before that. I was like, "Oh, cool, I'm going to do this as soon as I get home." I completely forgot that my wife and I were also invited to a wedding in Texas, so we had a flight for the weekend, so I was trying to juggle things around, but when I came back on Monday and I jumped on Scrimba, I was like, "How can I learn TypeScript really fast?" And I saw that Scrimba had one of the courses, I think it was Ania?
Alex Booker (30:33):
Johnny Proano (30:36):
She had TypeScript. So I went through that on Monday. I went through the whole course on Monday. Tuesday, I found some YouTube content on Angular. And then Tuesday night, I was just trying to figure out both, just doing random stuff. On Wednesday, I was like, "Oh man, I have one more day left to talk about this." On Wednesday I went ahead and I was like, "The best way to learn is just to start a project, not just reading and stuff like that. So let me just go ahead and start a project." I figured, I was like, "Why not just make something that my company will relate to."
And the company that I work for now, and I can tell you a little bit about it later on, but it's the Hilton Grand Vacations, and I decided to make a landing page for a hotel booking site, and I made it in Angular and TypeScript and I deployed it on Netlify and I just pushed it out. And Thursday I was like, "I'm going to shoot my shot again." I was like... And we're jumping in the interview and it ended up being a code review. And I showed them my app that I had made and I explained them what my process was in learning Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, the project and now we're here.
Alex Booker (31:36):
Did they assigned you a task or were you just showing an initiative?
Johnny Proano (31:40):
They didn't assign me a task. All they said, "Just try to catch up on Angular, but we'll just talk about your past," type of thing.
Alex Booker (31:46):
So if you could come and talk about Angular and TypeScript and just show that you'd been proactive, they probably would've taken that really well.
Johnny Proano (31:52):
So I was obviously nervous about it, and so I was like, "I need to do something that's going to make an impact." And that's just me going from five interviews where I like, "Ah, that stinks. Turn down." And I was like, "Well, there's nothing wrong with just making the project and hopefully I can present this project." Because what I've learned in most of the time is in the interviews that I had already, everyone was reviewing my GitHub and my projects, so I was like, "Why not just have that project forefront on top in my portfolio already? They can see the code and where I can just talk about it. And that can be the first one because it's the Hilton Grand Vacations and the project I made relates to that." So that was just my thought. I don't know.
Alex Booker (32:32):
I think you were spot on with that line of thinking. How did the interview go?
Johnny Proano (32:35):
It was great. It was a code review, we went through my code, how I thought about certain things, like the styling. It was a conversation, which is cool. There was no white-boarding or anything like that. I was super afraid of that part of it, even though I've practiced it and all that stuff, but you're never too comfortable with it. So I was very, very, very happy that it was a code review. And then there was some follow up questions and stuff like that.
Alex Booker (32:59):
Considering they had an expectation that you were not someone mega familiar with TypeScript or Angular, what were the things you thought and found that they judged you on?
Johnny Proano (33:09):
Well, I think it was that conversation at that school dance. Honestly, I was super excited about just the portfolio that I made and all the little projects that I had that I think that showed, especially when that parent came out and it was like, "Oh, cool, let me look at that." Not knowing that they worked for a company and he was part of a development team, so it was just, I think he saw my whole career, that passion and that motivation, that dedication, especially with all the activities that I have. And I felt like that was just huge. That helped out a lot.
Alex Booker (33:40):
Don't get me wrong. I 100% agree with that. I think that's very, very important. But let me just ask the hard question, I suppose, which is that they are interviewing you to code as well, right? So was there an element, do you think, of needing to prove your coding skills also?
Johnny Proano (33:57):
Yeah, there was. I definitely did, like I said, did some code review and explanations of other formats and ways while at the same time they already knew where I stood in Angular at the time. One of the questions that they did ask is, "How long did it take you to put that project together first?" I was like, "What do you mean?" "Well, altogether if you were to say, you said Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday you did this project, how long did it take you?" And I was like, "Maybe, well, I would say after reviewing TypeScript, reviewing Angular, I would say maybe seven, eight hours," is what I told them or something like that, if I put it all together.
I wasn't counting my activities with my kids or anything like that, the full day. It was the hours that I spent Monday, the hours that I spent on Tuesday. And when I said that seven, eight hours, there was like a, "Huh, okay." I don't know if they saw the dedication in that or they just saw, "Okay, if we need Johnny to figure out a task or figure out a new technology like he applies himself to do this.
Alex Booker (34:52):
Because you can learn quickly.
Johnny Proano (34:53):
Exactly. And I think that was the thing, and I think that's what I learned from the bootcamp as well and Scrimba from a lot of the podcasts. Coding is learning all the time and you're never going to be 100% [inaudible 00:35:05]. You can be really good at it, but things always change. And I've already come to agree with that. I think that was another reason was how fast I can learn and teach myself.
Alex Booker (35:15):
Did you feel optimistic they would extend you an offer?
Johnny Proano (35:17):
I did. Well, maybe I didn't. I don't know. It's because you have five interviews and you get turned down and you think you're good. You're feeling like, "Oh, this was great." And then it was like, "Oh, sorry, thank you for applying," type of thing. So I was like, yes and no. But there was this strong feeling like, "Okay, I felt good. The interview went well. I had a project in place. Some of the questions, I thought my answers were great." Again, it came out of a referral, you might want to call it, from the parent over there at the dance. So all these things were like, to me, "This is it," type of thing. This has to be it. The conversation went well. Soft skills is always important too. So I always try to keep a level of communication between us in terms of... I hate, what do you call it, blank spaces or white spaces or just when people stop talking.
Alex Booker (36:06):
I would've thought you're pretty great at filling those after your experience in sales.
Johnny Proano (36:11):
When that happened in the coding reviews and stuff like that and with interviewing, I just tend to ask a question relating to the company. I researched most of the companies I interviewed, so I was like, "Let me make sure I just put this in," and that would fill in gaps and make it less uncomfortable for everyone. And I think we made great conversations out of that.
Alex Booker (36:29):
Tell me a little bit about how the job offer reached you. Did they phone you? Did they email you? What was your reaction?
Johnny Proano (36:37):
I got a phone call that same day. I was just waiting. You never know when it's going to come in. And I was just waiting and waiting and I got a phone call and it was like, "Hey, Johnny, this is so-and-so from Hilton Grand Vacations," and in my mind already, I was like, "Well, they're going to tell me yes or no," type of thing. And I was just waiting for it. I remember I locked myself in the room. I have a little Yorkie dog, so he would bark and he was just going nuts, and I closed the room and anxiety's building in, and then they're like, "How did the interview go?" And I was like, "I felt like it went pretty good."
They're like, "Yeah, I could agree. I heard some good stuff from the team, and so I want to extend you an offer to be our engineer." And I was like, "Wow." It wasn't like, "Wow." Honestly, that was me being just cheesy right now. I opened the door as soon as I hung up and I was like, "Oh my God, I got it," freaking out. And might have been a little bit of tears just because you think about all that stuff from before sales and can I make it and can this happen?
Alex Booker (37:41):
You got validation.
Johnny Proano (37:43):
Exactly. So then just took a chance. And luckily, and thankfully, I'm very grateful that all that work paid off.
Alex Booker (37:51):
I know that you got rejected during a few interviews before this one. How did it feel in comparison to get the offer?
Johnny Proano (37:59):
Getting rejected, it's like you question a lot of the stuff that you've done. Am I really suit for this? Should I go back to sales? Because I was really good at sales type of thing. And all these thoughts go through your head. I said it a few times and it's just a real thing in the podcast. And that's that imposter syndrome. You just question about it. Is this something that you're really going to be good at doing? Can you do this? Luckily with support and community, Discord too, on the Scrimba channel, I had some conversations with a few people and it's just like you see some of those stories and it just pushes you. Like, "All right, you know what? I'm going to do this next one and I'm going to do this next one." But definitely in terms of the feeling and the vibe, different ends of the spectrum.
Alex Booker (38:39):
Absolutely. Like you were doubting if you needed a degree or not, you were doubting to some extent if you could do it. And you were also doubting, and understandably very much so that you might have made a mistake having left sales in which you were very successful. What motivated you to push past those doubts?
Johnny Proano (38:59):
And you brought up a good point. The degree was a thing that was just haunting me as well, like, "Do I need this?" And it's like I can't be that, an engineer or a software engineer without it. So that did haunt me for a long time and probably delayed me in going through some of my path on there. I think the biggest motivator for me, well, there's two, community and my family, the bootcamp community, the Scrimba community. Anytime a bad interview came in play, my instructor over at the bootcamp, I would just reach out and be like, "Man, this is what I did. These are the questions." We just reviewed stuff and I always called her and bugged her, and I was like, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," but I needed that validation. And I would just call to see what did I do wrong?
What was it like here? And she really pushed me. She really pushed me, like, "No, just keep doing it. Jot down what you didn't understand." And that's where my note thing started and I built up on that. And then my family, my kids, like I said before, one of the biggest things was for me was making a difference, making a change, being impactful. And I wanted my kids to see me in that way as well. Not that sales doesn't have that, but I made a cool little card flipping game for my daughter and it blew her mind.
Alex Booker (40:08):
How old is she?
Johnny Proano (40:09):
She's six. She's six years old, and she just loves it. And she was playing with it and just to see her play with it, to me that was super cool because she spent 45 minutes playing this little game, the card game matching game that I made with Disney characters. I was like, "That's amazing."
Alex Booker (40:23):
Did she understand that you coded it?
Johnny Proano (40:25):
At first, she didn't, but then I had her do some code for me. I was trying to imitate a drum pad sound on just a random practice thing that I was doing, and I was like, "Go ahead and put this in here." And I started making her like, "This is a button, let's create a button." And she's like, "Oh, you actually make these?" And I was like, "Yeah." She's like, "Oh," and she started getting it at that point. Like "Oh, that's what he does." The way she says things, it's funny. She's like, "Yeah, he's doing that software engineer thing upstairs." So she just makes me laugh, but she gets it and she likes what I do and she just tries to add stuff. Like, "Can you make me this now?" And I was like, "I will."
Alex Booker (41:08):
But you should feel very proud, I think, because every day kids consume stuff, whether it's content or an app or a toy, and if you try and explain physics to them or something or maps, they're not really going to get that, I don't think. But to let them play with the code and see the output, I think that's a very impactful seed to plant in a kid's brain because it gives them confidence. If they get the chance to go deeper into something like that in the future, it's not a foreign idea to them because their dad does it.
Johnny Proano (41:35):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I wanted to make sure, like you said, plant that seed and have her explore that stuff. So I didn't have that growing up and we didn't have that growing up. It wasn't popular to be like, "Oh look, coding," back in the day.
Alex Booker (41:49):
Johnny, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us your story. I recognize as well that you've been mega transparent in the way that you've explained both your feelings and the path, the highs and the lows, and that makes you the best kind of guest I think. And I think you recognize this from having listened to some episodes, this is where we get the most value in having the shared experience and knowing that despite the challenges, it can be done.
Johnny Proano (42:14):
I truly appreciate it. And like I said, a little starstruck with you on here.
Alex Booker (42:19):
Johnny, thank you so much, mate.
Jan Arsenovic (42:22):
That was a Scrimba Podcast. Thanks for listening. If you made it this far, subscribe, we are a weekly show and there's a new episode every Tuesday. The show is hosted by Alex Booker, and I'm Jan the producer. You can find both of our Twitter handles in the show notes. See you next week.