Eric Gow: An inspirational journey!

At CodeBoxx, we have graduates from all walks of life. This statement is as true for work experience as level of education or age. Many of our articles so far have presented this variety in many ways. This one is no exception. Eric has tried many different experiences before finding his way in technology and his great self-awareness makes him a valuable technologist. He’s been very transparent and provided a lot of details of his past, present and future. Eric is exactly the type of candidate that CodeBoxx is dedicated to helping, and the immense success of his passage at CodeBoxx is proof of that. 

Eric Gow, January 8th 2020

Before CodeBoxx, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was doing or where I was going. During high school, I was quite the slacker and didn’t properly plan for my educational future. I didn’t pay attention in class, and homework often went uncompleted. I even failed French class and had to take a course during the summer to make up for it. My post-secondary choices were limited to mostly non-academic courses because I didn’t have very good grades, and although nothing really jumped out at me, I picked one anyways, since that’s what we’re “supposed” to do after high school.

I chose a Film and TV Production course, since I was generally interested in film and thought it would be fun as a career. The application process was selective and difficult, and although I worked hard to be accepted in the school, once classes started I began having second thoughts. While the course was interesting, I quickly realized I wasn’t as engaged in the material as my peers. While waiting outside the classroom between periods, I’d often hear them discussing movies and directors in-depth. I couldn’t partake in these discussions, as most of the time I didn’t know the director or editor they were talking about, and I eventually realized that film was only an interest to me, not a passion. Even the few classes I did enjoy didn’t seem worth the money and time, so I dropped out after the first year.

After dropping out, I started working random jobs, none of which was leading me down a viable career path, but I told myself that it was OK, as I was just taking a break from school and trying to figure out what I wanted to do in the long term. In reality, I was procrastinating, and after a year of working meaningless jobs, I was no closer to finding out what I actually wanted to do. One of my friends told me about Katimavik, a volunteer program she had done, and suggested I do it too. Since I had nothing better to do, I signed up for the program and started in January 2012. I was put in a group of 10 volunteers, and we lived together for 3 months in Gatineau/Hull and for 3 months in Vanderhoof, BC. Each of us had our own work placements that would take up most of our days from monday to friday. While it was an altogether positive experience, Katimavik was a distraction, and at the end of it I was no closer to finding a career.

It was during the volunteer time in Gatineau that I started making serious efforts to learn French, which I completely failed at during my school days but had since wanted to try again. So after the volunteer program, I moved to Quebec City with a fellow volunteer and we became roommates. After a year I’d gotten better in French, but my roommate had not, so he went back to his home in Ontario. I stayed in Quebec, working mostly as a cook until I decided to take a cross-Canada roadtrip with my then-girlfriend. At the time I was already concerned about my future career, but quickly took the chance to use the roadtrip as yet another method of distraction and procrastination. The roadtrip ended in Victoria, BC, and while we didn’t plan to, we stayed there for almost 3 years. One of my jobs was cooking/delivery for a catering business, and it was during this time that I started gaining interest in programming. I had an idea for a mobile app, and for the next year or so I learned how to develop a native Android application. I enjoyed the complexity and challenge of programming, and during my days at the catering job, I was counting the hours until I could go home and write more code. I had developed an interest in programming but hadn’t yet considered going to school or attempting to make it my career, as at the time it was just a hobby. And after almost 3 years in Victoria, we decided it was time to go back east. I never completed or released the app I was working on.

Upon returning to Quebec, I called up a temp agency and quickly found work at a nut factory, where I was officially hired a short time after. Within a month, I was being trained to operate the large ovens to produce roasted nuts. This was the highest I could go within the company, and while I was paid well and received good benefits, I wasn’t satisfied. Summers were very hot, and standing next to the operating ovens in a full labcoat, hairnets, and gloves was grueling. The work itself was very repetitive and boring, and after a couple months I’d already learned everything there was to know. I considered how my life would be if I stayed there for 20 years like some of my coworkers, and I panicked. I felt as if I was trapped, since I was not happy with the job, but I hadn’t the means to improve my situation. After a year of feeling like this, I’d reached the breaking point and ended up quitting very suddenly, with no job prospects lined up.

Once again, without a job but needing one quickly, I called the temp agency and was placed in a warehouse working shipping. At first I was happy to be away from the food industry, and it was interesting to learn the new job. But once my training was over, I quickly lost interest and started feeling just as unhappy and unfulfilled as I did at my other jobs. It was during one particularly bad day at work that I started browsing the internet looking for a way out of my situation. I had to get out of the rut I was in, and quickly. I knew I was wasting time with these jobs, and I cursed myself for letting it get to this point. I regretted all the time I’d wasted, and I hated myself for not figuring it all out earlier. I wished I’d gotten a degree in something, anything, as all the “good” jobs required advanced schooling or many years of experience.

While I was frantically googling for potential schools, I remembered I enjoyed learning to program while I was in Victoria, so I searched for coding bootcamps in Quebec City, and I found one: CodeBoxx. So on a whim, during my lunch break, and without any expectation, I filled out the CodeBoxx application form and went back to work at a job that I hated.  When Codeboxx got back to me, strangely and almost humorously, I was hesitant to confirm my place in the course. As much as I hated my job and saw no future there, I told myself it wasn’t *that* bad, my coworkers were fine people and if I stayed there long enough, I’d get 3 weeks vacation, and whatever other reasons I could come up with to stay. This was my way of procrastinating or self-sabotaging, or being afraid of change and the unknown. I had almost missed the deadline to complete the entry questionnaires, but after exchanging emails with CodeBoxx representatives, I realized how much I’d regret it later if I didn’t do the program right now, so I made the decision to do it, and do it well.

The way I saw it, CodeBoxx was the only way out of the situation I was in, and there was no way I was letting that opportunity go to waste. Before the program started, I made a commitment to myself to work as hard as I could to succeed; I had no other choice. After completing the program and now working as a developer, I am so thankful that CodeBoxx responded to me on that day. My job is now interesting and engaging, and there is always something new to learn. My mood and general view of life is much more positive now, and I finally feel like I’ve found the right career for me. Since graduating from the program, I sometimes wonder what I’d be doing right now if I hadn’t found CodeBoxx. Would I have found a job I enjoy? Would I have discovered another possible career path? I’d like to assume that yes, I would have, eventually, but certainly not in the only 16 weeks it took with CodeBoxx!

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