Making Big-City Money in a Small Town: Allan Hartigan’s Online Boot Camp Journey

Some passions last a lifetime and impact the trajectory of our lives. That was the case for Allan Hartigan.

His love of tech started way back in the 1980s when computers were new and exciting. “Ever since I was a kid, I was interested in computers,” he said. “I was one of the first people I knew that had one.”

But even though Allan dabbled in coding on his Commodore 64 and took a course in computer programing and systems analysis at school, his career took him elsewhere. After a stint in finance at Climate Change Canada, he landed a job at an outsourcing firm, where he served as a team leader for 16 years. But he knew in his heart that he wasn’t where he needed to be.

Everything changed the day the company’s management encountered a computer software issue. The corporate developers couldn’t address it for three to four months, but it was debilitating client support. Allan stepped up and said he create a replacement in three weeks, which he did—leading him down a path that took him back to his roots.

A Wake-Up Call

With his natural aptitude for programming, Allan was able to quickly identify and solve the company’s problem. It was a lightbulb moment. He realized this was the work he wanted to do, and immediately began searching for educational opportunities to help him upskill.

His search led him to the University of Toronto SCS Online Coding Boot Camp. Since it would allow him to learn remotely, the online boot camp was the perfect way to build up his coding capabilities. But in order to make this opportunity work, Allan knew he needed to commit all of his time to learning, which meant leaving his current position.

It can be terrifying to leave a steady career to pursue your dream, especially when you have a family to support. But time was on Allan’s side. He was able to use the equity in his home to finance leaving work. And with his eye on the prize, nothing was going to get in the way of achieving his dream career.

Blending Old Knowledge With New

While Allan was always a quick learner when it came to computers, his experience revolved around older programs like C++, ASP, and Microsoft tools. But he was eager to learn and master today’s cutting-edge technologies, like React, and the boot camp provided the environment he needed to succeed.

“I can teach myself how to program, but I never had the structure, ”he said. “I needed the motivation to do it.”

The boot camp provided that motivation and then some. As part of the intensive coding program, learners are required to complete three group projects that put their new skills into action.

With his considerable experience leading teams, Allan found himself at the helm of most of the projects. His groups worked together to create three unique applications: a remote job search app, a collaboration tool, and a chores tracker for kids.

Allan loved working with his teammates. But what he loved most was the learn-on-your-own nature of the boot camp, which gave him the same thrill he’d felt when teaching himself how to fix his former company’s computer. The course provided him a foundational knowledge before encouraging him to figure things out himself—exactly the way Allan likes to learn.

His can-do attitude paid off. Allan landed the perfect position just four weeks after finishing the course.

From Climate Change Canada to the Weather Network

Allan could never have predicted that his brief stint with Climate Change Canada would relate to his future career. Though he worked in the finance department, his office was next to renowned on-air meteorologist David Williams. Allan’s natural curiosity got David talking, and before he knew it, he had a good knowledge base of how weather works.

Fast-forward to today, and Allan works remotely for The Weather Network. As a contract web developer, he helps to revamp television illustrations using Javascript skills he learned in boot camp. Though he doesn’t need a knowledge of meteorology to do his job, Allan is amused that his career came full circle. And thanks to the boot camp’s career services, he was able to land this perfect job opportunity.

“Things worked out, because I’m now working and making more money than before. It’s big city money in a small town,” he said. But most importantly, he’s able to work on his own terms from home.

Speak with Allan on the phone and you’ll hear a cacophony of kids in the background—his children are the biggest reason he wanted to work remotely. Since most of his work is solitary, he doesn’t have to worry about the noise. Plus, he gets to see his children as much as he wants.

“That said, I do plan on building my own office for those times when I need the quiet,” he said. That will come in handy when more contract jobs come through in the future.

To others considering the boot camp, Allan has some sound advice.

“You have to put in the effort,” he said. “If you put in the effort, you can get where you need to be.”

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