From a Correction Officer to a Full Stack Developer

From a Correction Officer to a Full Stack Developer


Hi! My name is Andrew Reynolds. I grew up in Small Point, NL and currently live in Conception Bay South. I am a Full Stack Software Developer at NetBenefit Software.

What did you do before Get Coding?

I graduated from MUN in 2012 with a double Major in Police Studies and Sociology and a Certificate in Criminology. My goal at that time was to be a Police Officer but I had yet to be accepted into the Policing program.

After graduation, I worked in Child and Youth Care for a year but wasn’t happy there. I switched to Private Investigation for a year, but again I wasn’t satisfied.
My next pivot was to Adult Corrections, in hopes of padding my resume to get into Policing. I remained a Correctional Officer for 8 years.

What made you decide to switch your career?

I was into Corrections for about 3 months when I realized that, that career path was not for me. I was not happy and I was not satisfied. As you can imagine, Corrections is a very negative environment as it is, but throw on top of that a near-constant disconnect between management and front-line staff, severe understaffing, constant overtime, working holidays when the rest of your family is off and a lot of negativity amongst staff (all listed reasons compounding this as well).

However, my wife and I had bought a house, then we had our first child and I began to feel stuck. But after 8 years I just couldn’t do it anymore, I didn’t feel like the same person I was 8 years ago and I wanted to be that person again. Not just for me, at the time my wife was pregnant with our second child and I wanted to be that person for my family. In short, I wanted to be happy again so I began to take the search for a new career seriously.

Did you ever think of switching your career to tech?

Yes. I worked a lot of night shifts in my 8 years so a few times over the years I looked at online courses. A couple of those courses were Tech related as I have always had an interest in Tech.

Why did you choose Get Coding?

A fruitful Google search led me to an article about Get Coding and it felt like a perfect fit for me. I didn’t have the option to put my life on hold and go back to school full-time to get a new Degree or Diploma.
The structure of the Get Coding program appeared to be more realistic for my situation.
Choosing Get Coding allowed me to continue to work and help support my family, as there is not a rigid weekly schedule. I was able to set my own learning hours and all of my coaches were very flexible in setting my weekly one on one sessions.

Were you working during Get Coding?

Yes. I continued to work full time while in Get Coding. I was fortunate in a way that I was able to work all night shifts at my previous job and I did have the opportunity at times to do some learning at work. I liked to tell my friends and family that I was Software Developer at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary.

What did you build during Get Coding?

I am a big Hockey fan and I have played Fantasy Hockey for pretty much my entire adult life. I consider myself pretty good at it, but that always came at a time cost. To briefly explain my fantasy hockey strategy, every week I would assess the NHL schedule to see which teams had the most games that week.

Then I would check the available players list to see who was available from those teams and I would add those players (at the best time during the week based on the schedule). This allowed me to usually have more “man-games played” than my opponent.

So even if their core players were technically better than mine, those extra man-games would often give me the edge for the week. This came at a cost, as it required a fair amount of research every week and I would often be in multiple leagues so I would have to assess different available players lists.

So my Get Coding project was to partially automate this for me. My project, named Next Up, utilizes the very poorly documented NHL API to do that research for me. It checks how many games every NHL player is playing that week and displays that information, along with their Stats in a table. I built the table from scratch to allow for multi column sorting and complex filtering. It was a very fun project.

The first version of the project helped me win my Fantasy League that year and I used the winnings to buy myself a new MacBook Pro to make learning to code more enjoyable as well. Positive Feedback Loop !

As a side project, I also built a website for my Community Networking Board Game events (Get Gaming). The website displays the next upcoming event and which games would be featured at the event. There is also a gallery of past events, a Contact Us page and a Library of games. What was pretty cool here is that I was able to re-use the custom table that I had built for Next Up for the games Library.

What are you doing now?

I am a Full Stack Developer at NetBenefit Software. I love it and I am happy again ! I feel valued at every level of the company, I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do and I have much more scheduling flexibility. When I am not working you might find me planning our semi-monthly NetBenefit Networking events or the next Get Gaming event. The local Tech community is very supportive and I really love being a part of it!

What would you say to people considering switching their career to tech?

Absolutely do it if you think Tech is the right fit for you ! There are a lot of different opportunities in Tech, it’s not just Software Development. Tech is a very forward thinking, fast moving field, and I won’t say it’s for everybody, but if you talk to some people and do some research there very likely is a fit for you.

And I definitely want to reiterate my earlier point; If you’re not happy with your current role, you have options. It won’t be easy. It takes a lot of hard work. But from my experience, it is 100% worth the effort !

I want to add that it’s never to early to start Networking !
If you are seriously considering a career in Tech, never underestimate the importance of building a strong Network.

It can seriously mean the difference between your resume being passed over and a recruiter taking a second look. If you have any questions about my career transition journey or any questions about working in Tech in general, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can find me on LinkedIn !

About Get Coding

Get Coding trains people to become software developers by building real-life projects with the most in demand skills, while being coached, one-on-one, with software developers from local tech companies. Students learn on their own time, making the program accessible even to people with a full-time job, family or both.