Launching Apps and Landing Jobs: How Calvin Macintosh Got His Start in the Tech World
Calvin Macintosh’s financial background led him to his first post-grad job in the world of economics. His days were filled with Excel spreadsheets, basic data computing, government forms, and menial tasks. He was grateful to have a job, but he was bored.
Calvin realized that he enjoyed the coding and software engineering aspects of his job, so he actively searched for those opportunities within his company, but there were none. He started looking for jobs outside the company, but felt he came up short — then he discovered coding boot camps.
The work behind the scenes
Calvin enrolled in the six-month, part-time program at Penn LPS Coding Boot Camp. Because he chose to keep his full-time job, he essentially had a second full-time gig with the boot camp added to his schedule. He tackled the 30 or so hours of weekly homework at any chance he could — like during lunch breaks — and would apply for jobs during any extra down time. Despite his new skills, the job market was tough.
“I didn’t really get any jobs right away,” he said. “It was so competitive that I felt like I needed to spend another couple of months on my resume and portfolio following the boot camp.”
As the job opportunities remained slim, he realized he needed to do more to keep his momentum going. He entered an app-building competition in order to keep programming, which altered his trajectory for the better.
The little app that could
Calvin developed a grocery shopping app called Shopalot. The app allows users to store grocery lists, add or deduct items from them, and then share lists with other people. “If you are running to the store and your roommate asks, ‘Can you pick up this and that,’ he can just add to the list and it will automatically update for all shared users,” Calvin said.
The Shopalot app originated as Calvin’s final project for the boot camp, and he started off working with two fellow learners. Though they were interested at first, the group dynamic ended up tapering off towards the end.
The biggest challenge they faced was in terms of scope. They had a variety of ideas for the app that just never came to fruition, and it was certainly a lesson in managing expectations. “There was a lot of time spent too long on one aspect that wasn’t going to end up happening,” he said. Features like real-time tracking and user authentication were some of their priorities, but these proved ambitious given the project constraints.
After the boot camp, Calvin was determined to get the app where he wanted it to be. He ended up being able to add the user authentication feature to the app on his own and updated the entire interface, ultimately creating something better than originally planned.
His drive to continue improving the app post-boot camp is what ultimately helped continue to develop skills — and led to his current position.
The perfect fit
As Calvin continued his job search, he created a web page marketing himself as available for freelance work. He ended up getting a lot of requests, most of which seemed like scams, but one day he got one he couldn’t ignore. “A woman asked if I had time for full-time work. She was looking for a junior developer to update her company’s sites,” he said.
That company was Dosel Australia, a provider of hospital software designed for radiation compliance. Small yet diverse, the company’s global team spans Australia and the Czech Republic — and Calvin is the sole U.S.-based employee. Everyone is six hours ahead of him, but it works out fine. “It’s been interesting,” he said. “Weekly calls take place at four in the morning, but I’d much rather have that than constantly be on call.”
The boot camp allowed Calvin to expand on his already existing skills, build new ones, and become a part of his company’s growth trajectory. “One day they might want to tap into the U.S. market. This could lead to something bigger, and it’s exciting to play a role in it,” he said.