Ian Theis Is a Jack-of-All-Trades—Here’s Why He Added Coding Skills to the Mix

a group of coders sitting around a bank of computers

from the Trilogy blog

Ian Theis
Ian Theis

What do statistics, actuarial science, culture studies, comparative literature, and web development have in common? While an in-depth cross-analysis may bring some enlightening insight, the common thread might just be… nothing. If you ask Ian Theis—who has studied each and every one of these topics—one thing is clear: he loves learning.

Ian worked as a business system consultant at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage for about three years post-graduation. He loved his position, but it was a temporary contract role.

“I really enjoy solving technical problems and digging into a problem like a puzzle,” Ian said. After a difficult search for a similar role, he accepted a position as a business analyst—but he didn’t enjoy it the way he had his previous job.

“I realized I didn’t want my inability to code stop me from having a position where I could solve technical problems,” he explained. This realization was a turning point. Ian knew going back to school to get another degree was going to be costly in terms of both time and money, so he began researching coding boot camps.

Pretty soon, Ian was enrolled in the University of Minnesota Full Stack Web Development Certificate (Coding Boot Camp), powered by Trilogy Education

Making the Transition

Ian was fascinated with the way different students were immediately drawn to different aspects of coding. Everyone came to boot camp with varying goals in mind, and it was interesting for him to see people from diverse backgrounds, career experiences, and aspirations all in the same classroom.

As a self-proclaimed “numbers guy,” Ian quickly gravitated to back-end development. He loves data, analytics, and the act of coding as a form of problem solving. 

Despite his tendency towards back-end, nothing came easily by any means. As the boot camp went on, the topics became increasingly challenging and demanding. Despite the hard work it required, he was extremely motivated—and he enjoyed the learning process more than anything.

“I’ve studied so many things,’ said Ian. “Every time I learn something new I get closer to what I’m most passionate about, and my career goals become clearer.” His inspiration was the course instructor, Chris Woolcott, whom Ian described as the greatest teacher he’s ever had, in any context. 

Delving into the Beyond

The group projects let students play to their strengths. For the first few, Ian stuck with back-end development and his other group members handled the front-end. One of these projects was centered on the stock market and investing: a program that could calculate the long-term value of stocks. While it felt good to excel at his back-end role, Ian didn’t feel like he was maximizing his potential.

Going forward, Ian vowed to challenge himself as much as possible. In order to do this, he elected to work alone on his final project. He would code the back- and front-end of a project, and knew he could prove himself capable.

Completing the project alone was intense. Ian worked on it over the course of three to four weeks, and put in about 100 hours of work—even taking some time off of his job to maximize his efforts. The result was a space-themed video game titled Delve into the Beyond, driven by statistics and modeled after real-life physics. 

The program generates an endless number of universes and solar systems based on data built into the code. In addition, it gives the player information about the space ship, solar system, and star or planet that’s been generated for them. The user can continue to generate solar systems, and even travel between them—comparing various statistics and scientific features of each.

While Ian is immensely proud of the game he’s created, he hopes to be able to improve upon it. His future updates include making it run faster and incorporating more visuals into the primarily text-based program.

Three, Two, One: Takeoff

Currently Ian is working as a test automation developer for US Bank. At the end of the day, what qualified him for the role was the combination of his previous business experience and his newfound coding skills. 

So far, Ian is really enjoying his first professional developer role. He hopes to be able to keep pursuing creative projects. 

“Just like with my final project at boot camp, I want to be able to keep building applications,” said Ian. “I love creating something completely from scratch, building it up, and being able to share the end result with people who share these interests.”

Ready to delve into the beyond? In addition to the Coding boot camp, the U of M offers a Data Visualization and Analytics boot camp and a Cybersecurity boot camp. Get all the details at bootcamp.umn.edu.

This story was originally published on the Trilogy Education blog.