Behind the scenes of a Lead UI/UX Software Engineer who teaches at Nucamp

By Chevas Balloun

Last Updated: December 27th 2022

How a professional in the industry is giving back to those following in his steps

"It's not going to be something that helps me directly, but I want to make a difference in people's lives. If someone could have mentored me like I do with other students now, it would have made a huge difference in my life." -Franklin Carvajal, Nucamp Instructor

Franklin Carvajal is one of our many bootcamp instructors who is the cornerstone of each of their student's coding journeys.

The value, passion, and expertise he brings to each coding bootcamp fosters a learning environment that truly makes a difference.

A great instructor sets the stage for success and we couldn't be more proud to introduce you to him today.

Franklin is a Lead UI/UX Software Engineer for IAM Robotics in Pittsburgh, PA and has 7 years experience in his field.

He has been a Nucamp instructor for 2 years, has taught every Nucamp bootcamp, but specializes in teaching React Native for mobile development in our Front End and Full Stack bootcamps as well as Node.js in our Full Stack bootcamp and has also taught every month since he started.

What coding skills are you specialized in?

Franklin touched on two types of skills: technical and soft skills.

His technical skills are within JavaScript as a core language, the peripheral tools around it, Node.js, React itself as a library and Lightning Web Components when he worked for a Salesforce vendor.

For soft skills, he explained his EQ (emotional quotient) is an invaluable skill within his career.

High EQ has given him the ability to effectively work with people in a more productive way and make sure to curb the pride and ego checking that causes heads to bump within a stereotypical engineering territory.

So how did a Lead UI/UX Software Engineer like you get into coding to begin with?

Well, as Franklin put it,

"I don't have a "fairly tale" story of why I got into coding like most seniors in the field do. Their stories are similar to back in MySpace days they fell in love with editing pages and were hooked since. I didn't get into coding because I loved it, but once I got into it, I fell in love with it."

He starts his story off by explaining how his family is everything to him; at 20 he married and by 21 he had his first child on the way.

At the time he was without a college degree working at the grocery outlet and private golf course 6 days a week, running on little sleep and barely making the money he needed for his growing family.

He was able to land an office job reviewing mortgage appraisals that doubled his salary and gave him regular time at home finally.

Quickly he reached his income cap in that role and after reviewing 20k+ mortgages he couldn't stand how buggy, slow, and not user friendly it was using the software.

Literally through the glass, across from his desk, was the IT department who all had better pay, better office equipment, and even had chances to work from home.

This sparked his idea to try to get into the field that could help solve software issues like he had and relieve his financial strain all in one.

For two years he taught himself HTML, CSS, and JavaScript with what was available online at the time, which wasn't a lot, and a majority of it was very expensive.

Before Nucamp existed, he took an online bootcamp to elevate his skills to get him on track to where he is today.

Why did you decide to become a coding bootcamp instructor?

Going through all the challenges he went through as a non-traditional, non-degree student to break into the coding field... he wanted the process to be better for others.

Online coding bootcamps are the best way to learn a new skill without putting your life on hold, but there were so many barriers and little support for him to get into coding.

His goal is to make a difference in people's lives and be the mentor he wish he had.

What brought him to Nucamp specifically was how Nucamp was aligned with his goals and how they provided a level of understanding and care he wanted to give his students.

"Caring about students is so important. That's what makes Nucamp so far ahead. They understand people so much better than other bootcamps."

Franklin believes that if you understand people, the technology, the hard questions, and you don't lose patience with people, you're going to be an awesome instructor.

"You [teach coding] because you love it and you love your students. I want people to be passionate, to succeed, and get through the pain of learning. People need fire, they need a spark. It can be monotonous, defeating, and exhausting. It's not helpful if you have an instructor who is monotonous, defeating, or exhausting."

Lastly, what is one piece of advice you would give bootcamp students (future or current)?

"Something will give. If you have tenacity and curiosity, the industry will bend to you. No matter what happens, you can do something, even if it doesn't look like you are making a difference. Stay fierce. Focus on pursuing the craft. The work you put into it, is what you will get out of it. Persevere, grow a spine, laugh off a lot of the pain. You'll do great. And remember: I can train somebody to code, but I can't train somebody to care."
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Chevas Balloun

Director of Marketing & Brand

Chevas has spent over 15 years inventing brands, designing interfaces, and driving engagement for companies like Microsoft. He is a practiced writer, a productivity app inventor, board game designer, and has a builder-mentality drives entrepreneurship.