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From Running Restaurants To Learning to Code: How This Sommelier Pivoted From Hospitality To Web Development

November 12, 2020

2 min read

Written by Sennah Yee

Shahyn loved working in the hospitality industry, but it was starting to take a toll on his health. Here’s why he changed careers and became a web developer through a coding bootcamp at Juno College:

In his 10 years of hospitality experience, Shahyn did pretty much every job in the industry. As a restaurant manager and sommelier, he got to live and work around the world, from the US to Spain to Australia to Canada.

“I enjoyed my job and was good at it,” says Shahyn. “But it consumed my life. I worked long hours and on my days off, I was so tired that I couldn’t get out of bed.”

Shahyn acknowledges the demanding and physically exhausting part of working in hospitality, both on a physical and mental level: “Every day, you and your team are required to give 120%. The margin for error is slim when guests are spending $100 per person for an experience.”

His last major hospitality gig was opening two restaurants in a big, swanky hotel in downtown Toronto. Shahyn was working at least 10 hours a day, managing teams, purchasing wine and liquor, training staff, writing schedules, and running the floor.

“The job took a lot out of me and made me reconsider if I wanted to stay in the industry for the long haul,” he says.

Shahyn was also thinking about the future in the hospitality industry: “My biggest fear was that working these hours is not practical once you get older.”

I didn’t want to be one of those old school restaurant managers, stuck in the old ways of doing things and regretting not getting out of the industry earlier.

It was time for something new - but what? Shahyn had never considered web development as a possible career. In fact, he barely even knew what a developer did!

“My only assumption about it was that it required a lot of math - something I am terrified of!” he says. “Plus, I didn’t have an ounce of the patience required to go back to school for 4 years to pursue a computer science degree.”

However, Shahyn’s interest in web development was sparked when he spoke to a friend at a party who had also pivoted from hospitality over to tech.

Student Stories

About Shahyn’s Journey

  • Before Juno

    Sommelier

  • After Juno

    Front-End Developer

  • Currently

    Front-End Developer

    WIRIS

“I always knew he was a bright guy and was impressed with his development,” says Shahyn. “I remember telling him that I wished I was smart enough to do something like that.”

To Shahyn’s surprise, his friend answered that coding is about more than just intelligence - it’s about work ethic and perseverance. Shahyn’s friend brought up the possibility of certain Bootcamp programs that specifically prepare students for jobs in tech - fast.

Shahyn was convinced to try some free online coding courses - and the rest was history! He came across Juno, and was impressed with the community and student outcomes.

“One thing led to another, and 10 months later, there I was doing a coding bootcamp myself at Juno! If all their grads were able to find jobs after graduation, I felt like I should be able to do the same.”

Shahyn was right - after 9 weeks of learning core front-end concepts, he graduated with a portfolio to show everything off, and ready to land his first developer job.

What is it like working as a web developer?

The realities of the hospitality industry are what have pushed a lot of our grads to make a career change similar to Shahyn. Like many others, a big draw of web development for Shahyn was the flexibility of developer jobs - specifically, the option to work anywhere.

“You know when you go on vacation and see hipsters working on their laptops on the beach?” he says. “Many of them are developers!”

Not all developers work behind a desk all day; many choose to work remotely. Working remotely allows you to work from anywhere. Whether it’s home, the beach, or the moon, the choice is yours.

Shahyn’s choice? Barcelona, Spain! He had fallen in love with the city after visiting a few times.

When Shahyn arrived in Spain, he didn’t know anybody there, didn’t know the language, and didn’t know where to find his first job - but at the time, the economy was booming, and so was tech (in fact, the tech industry is still thriving)! After applying to various jobs, Shahyn finally landed a role at a small agency as a front-end web developer.

“I remember getting the email, and honestly, it was one of the greatest moments in my life. It was a reward after 8 months of hard work studying web development.”

His new job wasn’t without its challenges and lessons: “My biggest mistake at my first job was that I didn’t Google enough and tried to come up with my own logic and code,” he says. “I wasted a lot of time with that,” he says. “In the beginning if you are given a task, and you don't know how to do it, don't be afraid to Google it and find examples online to learn from.”

Today, Shahyn works for a local company as a front-end developer. He's enjoying the different pace of working in tech versus hospitality, while still accomplishing work that is challenging and fulfilling: he spends his days building component libraries and working on several projects, and spends his weekends working on a side project that could potentially become a SAAS product in the near future.

“Side projects like these also allow me to dip my toes in new technologies, so win-win!”

How do I become a web developer?

Shahyn's advice to those looking to become web developers is simple and effective: “Repetition, repetition, repetition,” says Shahyn. “Keep doing tutorials, coding projects, and challenges until you understand the concepts. Some of this stuff takes time to grasp, so if you don't understand it the first time, that's okay - just keep practicing and reading documentation and examples.”

Shahyn also shares a helpful reminder to Bootcamp grads and all developers: being a developer means being a lifelong learner!

“Some people think that you just finish Bootcamp and you’re set for life - but unfortunately, that's not how it works! When I got my first job, I would spend at least one day during the weekend reviewing what I have been doing and learning new technologies. This has definitely paid off in the long run.”

Skills Needed to Become a Web Developer<