Six Coding Dojo alumni enter the Microsoft LEAP Program

Nearly 30 hopefuls from across the country competed to be a part of Microsoft’s LEAP (Engineering Acceleration Program) software engineering apprenticeship program. Six Coding Dojo alumni were selected (featured above: Ben Mier and Kabir Kahn; Porsha Robinson and Porsha Clawson; Mark Donahue, Lucas Hudson).
This week marked the beginning of the 16-week LEAP program. LEAP participants will be contributing in product teams across Microsoft, including Xbox CRM and Xbox One.
Ben Mier, a Coding Dojo alumnus, shares more about the LEAP program, and how Coding Dojo helped him find his dream company.
Q&A with Benjamin Mier (LEAP Software Engineering Apprentice at Microsoft and Coding Dojo Alum)
What did you do before Coding Dojo? I have a B.S. in Applied Physics and a M.S. I have a degree in Electrical Engineering and a few college programming courses in different languages. I was a telecom engineer in a small company, and an electrical design & analyst engineer for Boeing.
You could share the experiences of Coding Dojo alumni and apprentices before they made the decision to go into programming. They come from very different backgrounds. Anya is a Russian translator who has a PhD in linguistics. Kabir is a recent high-school grad. Lucas is a recent college grad from North Carolina who studies economics and philosophy. Porsha has a degree computer networking and information security and worked in IT for ten years before reinventing herself after contributing to an open-source web project called She’s Coding. Mark is a University of Washington history grad who was a German translator and content manger in Germany.
Why did you decide to go to a coding bootcamp instead of Boeing? They didn’t offer me the opportunity to improve my skills or learn new things. I had considered bootcamps in the past and decided that it would be the best way for me to get programming experience and add to my hardware background. My goal was to find a job that utilized my skills in a meaningful manner in the tech industry.
What is Microsoft’s LEAP Apprenticeship? How long does it last? The LEAP program is 16 weeks of immersive diversity training that combines classroom learning with hands on projects in a real-world environment. It is done through a Microsoft-sponsored contracting company. Each intern is considered a Microsoft contractor. They are paid hourly. Our current cohort began June 27th and continues through October 14th.
Why did you apply to LEAP? What do you love about the program? I applied for the LEAP program because it was something I had always hoped to do at Microsoft. I was not a programmer and I knew that I wasn’t what Microsoft expected. I was intrigued by LEAP via Coding Dojo and thought it would be a great way to showcase my diverse background that Microsoft could benefit. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to show Microsoft what my talents can do!
How was the application process for LEAP handled? It seems to be competitive. The application required basic information about you, your software development skills, why you are interested in programming, and a Markdown resume. It is very competitive, I think. They received about 30 applicants from all parts of the country.
What will you do within Microsoft LEAP? The first 8 weeks consist of classroom learning in the Microsoft style, taught by senior developers. Then 8 weeks of apprenticeship work on a project within a Microsoft group. Each intern will present their achievements at the end of 16 weeks.
How did Coding Dojo prepare you for the job you will be doing with LEAP? Coding Dojo did an amazing job of preparing me in many ways. First, the Dojo gave me the opportunity to apply. My interviewer was impressed by the fact that I was able to learn multiple languages in a short time. Interviews were made easier by the daily algorithm practice on whiteboards at Dojo. Because they were so much easier than our daily work at Dojo, I felt confident answering interview questions.
What do you plan to do with LEAP? I hope to gain valuable experience as well as a stronger resume through the LEAP program. Coding Dojo would allow me to learn the technologies quickly and excel in it, which could lead to a permanent position at Microsoft. This would be my dream job. If not, I would like to use my skills/reputation to find a job as a developer at a small company that focuses on something I enjoy.
Any other information you would like to share? I encourage everyone to apply, regardless of their background. We even had one Dojo graduate straight out of high school! Please explain in the application