This article was written for our sponsor, Thinkful.

If you click on Harley Jackson’s LinkedIn profile, his tagline reads, “The future is the result of what we build now.”

The Greeks and the Romans, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs would probably agree.

“I came up with that catchphrase,” Jackson said. “One of the tips [that I received] is you should have a personal slogan that’s sort of catchy and related to your own personal philosophy. I’m building software applications — I’m basically building solutions for people that might have some kind of problem they need to solve. I’m also a very future-oriented person.”

A few years ago Jackson, who describes himself as “into sci-fi and always looking forward to future technologies,” found himself at a career crossroads of sorts.

A former data analyst for the state government in Florida, he described his role as an “epidemiologist combined with IT support.” In his role, Jackson dealt with hospital data and language data and manually created language queries.

“It was a kind of a hybrid role where I worked with technology, but didn’t actually develop the software,” he explained. “But, I worked really closely with the engineers. While I was doing that, I came to realize that I was really much more interested in how the software worked and that’s when I decided to just change my career to software engineering.”

To have the flexibility to spend his evenings and weekends learning how to code, Jackson took a teaching job before discovering Thinkful, an online coding bootcamp, through a MeetUp group.

“I use MeetUp a lot for networking,” he said. “I went for one that was being run by Thinkful because it was about getting into a career in technology, which is what I was trying to do.”

Thinkful, which coins itself as a “career accelerator,” offers online coding education programs for individuals looking to enter the software development space.

Jackson enrolled in Thinkful’s engineering immersion program, which is 40 hours a week, plus homework. The classes are conducted via video.

Jackson particularly enjoyed the breakout session where students virtually partner up to build an application. He also noted that the biggest difference between independent learning and a coding education is that the program taught him how to talk about what he was doing as a software developer.

“Before the Thinkful bootcamp, I actually knew a lot of principles, and I knew how to build applications, but when it came to explaining them or working together with another person where we talk about something or just the vocabulary of the technology — that developed a lot in the Thinkful program,” he said.

Having come into the coding game knowing some of the basics, Jackson said Thinkful reinforced his confidence that software development was what he wanted to do for a living.

“It’s hard to fake [liking something] for 40 hours a week, right?” he asked.

It’s a fair point, and while Jackson didn’t have to fake it while he was making it, he landed a job after completing his Thinkful program thanks to LinkedIn.

“I was using [LinkedIn] as my main conduit for applying for positions and [a contact] pushed out the REACH program,” he explained.

Jackson is an apprentice engineer at REACH, which is a technical apprenticeship with LinkedIn Engineering. REACH is a multi-year program where individuals rotate through various levels of technical roles at the company.

“The end goal is for each person to build their skill set and gain the experience needed to become an engineer. The time each apprentice spends in this program will vary depending on their incoming skill set and their progress through the program,” stated the REACH website.

Jackson was so excited about the potential opportunity that he marked his calendar for the date and time the application would open, so he could have all of his essays and materials ready.

“The program is exactly what I needed,” he said. “It’s for people who are either trying to get into engineering [and] start their career from a kind of non-traditional path such as bootcamps, or a career changer and I think I’m kind of both of those things,” he said. “There was [also] a coding challenge, and I used the skills that I learned in Thinkful.”

Though only a few weeks into his new role at REACH, Jackson said he’s been impressed with the way the LinkedIn team has listened to his interests in full-stack development and machine learning. Looking towards the future — because that’s exactly the kind of person Jackson proclaims to be, future-centric — Jackson aims to continue building his expertise as an engineer.

“I’m pretty much surrounded by some of the best engineers over here, and I just want to get better at what I’m doing right now,” he said.

This article was written for our sponsor, Thinkful.