The system he oversaw at the hotel drove him crazy at times. "I told myself that, if I knew how to code, I could do much better," Charlie recalls. When the pandemic hit the tourism industry, he decided to make a change. A bootcamp retrained him as a junior programmer and he started a new IT career straight after graduation. "I love my new field and I'm really glad I went into it," says Charlie, who currently works as a ServiceNow developer at FX Innovation.
His decision to make the big career switch wasn’t an impulsive one. After all, he enjoyed working in the hospitality sector. He’d entered the hotel industry right after graduating from a vocational university in Antwerp, and started his first job with great enthusiasm. However, it soon became clear that the Brussels hotel was too small for him. "After a few discussions with the manager, we agreed that I needed a bigger challenge," Charlie describes the moment he decided to leave his native Belgium and move to the Netherlands.
It was there in the Dutch capital that Charlie fully immersed himself in the whirlwind of tourism. "Sometimes you could really tell that that city never sleeps. Although it may seem like a cliché, I really enjoyed working with people," says the Lokeren native. In the last hotel he worked at, he got a good taste of IT. "I was co-responsible for managing the Domotica Projects system in the hotel rooms. We had iPads in nearly all 288 of them and guests used them to control the lights and televisions. The system also contained a lot of information about Amsterdam and the hotel itself," he explains. "When I started entering data in the system, I was hooked. But sometimes I grew frustrated with how the system was built. I told myself that, if I knew how to code, I could do much better."
For two years, Charlie and his Czech girlfriend lived happily in a beautiful Delft apartment. But his better half often felt like something was missing. "It was difficult for her in the Netherlands, so we started thinking about moving to the Czech Republic. She basically just wanted to be closer to home," Charlie confides. "And then the pandemic came along and just really wreaked havoc in the Netherlands. It really impacted our careers and we both lost our jobs."
Charlie used the lockdown period to take the first step toward fulfilling his IT dream. He wanted to change careers and fully devote himself to programming. "I spent most of my time studying Udemy online courses at home,” he says. “I learned HTML and CSS because I wanted to learn the basics of front end.”
Even before moving to Prague, Charlie had tried to find a programming bootcamp. "It just wasn’t realistic in the Netherlands," he says, shrugging sadly. "The courses were too expensive. When I added the costs of bootcamp to our living expenses for the time I’d be studying without an income, it was clear that I’d have to save up for a really long time first."
But Charlie didn't give up. He started looking for other ways to reach his goal. He expanded his search to the Czech Republic and found the Green Fox Academy, which just happened to be located in his girlfriend’s home town of Prague. "So, we accelerated our moving plans and I was able to start the Junior Developer Course at the end of the summer. I chose it because it offered the best syllabus and great mentors," he explains. "I already knew what I was getting into because several of my friends had attended similar bootcamps. My expectations were quite high. Nevertheless, I was still surprised that there were days when I found myself sitting at my laptop for 12 hours trying to solve tasks."
"Bootcamp was definitely worth the time and financial investment. I would never have learned so much if I’d tried to do it on my own."
The Green Fox Academy Junior Developer retraining Course did not disappoint Charlie. "It was definitely worth the time and financial investment. I would never have learned so much if I’d tried to do it on my own," he confirms. "Although I started out with on-campus classes, another pandemic wave came along three weeks later and my class shifted to an online environment."
Despite the unexpected change in study format, he has only high praise for the course. "I felt supported by the mentors the entire time. They were there for us and we could ask them anything at any time. For example, I’d gotten stuck on this one thing, so I scheduled a one-to-one consultation with a mentor. She explained it to me for over an hour, from all angles, and I still couldn’t get it. Then, finally, the light bulb came on and I understood everything," he recalls. "We also helped each other a lot in the class. I was good on the front end, someone else was good on the back end, so we collaborated a lot. My classmates and I really stuck together and we all completed the course."
Charlie really started his new IT career fast. Even before graduating, he landed a job interview and a position was offered to him a week after the course ended. He joined the prestigious international company Accenture, where he worked on the ServiceNow platform. "I worked on Service Portal,” he says. “The work was quite diverse. I was setting up ready-made functions, but I was also coming up with completely new custom solutions. I really enjoyed working on the frontend a lot."
Even his daily schedule varied. "I sat down at the computer at 8 a.m. and started going over emails from teammates in the USA and Canada. After that, I worked on development," Charlie says. "At 10 a.m., the Accenture project team met to discuss the tasks we’d been assigned. The next meeting of the day started at 2 p.m. That was with the client. We discussed how the project was progressing and focused on feedback from testers. When the meeting was over, I still had more time for development and tasks."
Charlie’s favorite moments were those when he discussed issues and progress with clients. "I felt like both the client and my team leader trusted and relied on my knowledge and skills," he says. His previous experience working in the hotel service industry came in handy during the consultative aspect of his platform development work.
It was during these meetings that Charlie was fully able to appreciate the benefits gained from his programming bootcamp. "It's been over a year since I graduated and I'm still reaping the rewards," he says. "The soft skills training really taught me a lot and it shows in my consultations with clients. They appreciate my openness and ability to communicate, as well as the fact that I’m not afraid to present and I’m not intimidated by any tasks."
Although Charlie had to contend with few doubters at the start of his journey, all of his nearest and dearest believe in him now. "Some who knew me were skeptical because IT is all about technology and I'm very much a people person. As it turns out, when you apply that kind of personality to ServiceNow development consultations, the results are almost magical. I'm grateful to have had the experience of working directly with customers. I make use of it on a daily basis now," he says, smiling contentedly. "I love IT and I'm glad I decided to leave the hotel. If someone asked if I’d make the same decision again today and go bootcamp all over again, the answer is a resounding yes!"
In addition, bootcamp also gave Charlie something else; a host of new friends. "To this day, I still go for beers with my old classmates. Among other things, we often chat about work. It's interesting to hear how things work in other companies and what other people are working on. It gives me perspective and the opportunity to maintain contacts in the industry," he says with a laugh.
After a year and a half, Charlie decided to leave Accenture. "I really enjoyed my time there and learned a lot about the ServiceNow platform. However, it was time for a new challenge," he confides. In November 2022, he signed on with FX Innovation and started work as a ServiceNow developer.
Charlie is sure that his future will remain in the world of IT. "There are still quite a few features and areas of ServiceNow that I haven't explored, and I’d like to focus on those. I'd like to get into IT Asset Management, for example," he says, and then reveals his longer-term goals. “I enjoy Service Portal and I’d like to specialize in this type of development. Eventually, I’d like to work my way up to team leader or a training position so I can share my knowledge with future generations of ServiceNow developers.” Charlie is doing so well in IT that we know it’s only a matter of time before he fulfills these dreams, too.