This Air Force Vet Reignited His Passion for Coding and Landed at American Express

Cesar Perez felt like something was wrong.

He was studying software engineering at college, but his lifelong passion for all things technology was fading.

“My education really plateaued. I lost all desire for what I was doing. I needed to find a way to get excited about it again,” Cesar said.

The University of Arizona Coding Boot Camp gave him fresh motivation to take his tech skills to the next level.

Amazed and confused

Cesar’s love of technology began when he was still young—and he got his first Atari and Nintendo systems. He was amazed that people were making it possible to have so much fun. Interested, Cesar was nevertheless intimidated by the thought of learning to code and program.

“I never believed I’d be able to do anything like that. I thought it was something magical that only super smart people could do,” he said.

But he wasn’t deterred. During high school, he taught himself a little HTML and CSS. After redesigning his MySpace page, he realized that these were things he could definitely do.

A passion takes flight

After high school, Cesar carried his budding confidence into the Air Force as an aircraft maintenance mechanic. His enlistment didn’t just give him the chance to boost his technical skill set, it also helped him pay for school.

When his military service was over, he moved to Arizona and jumped into programming. For two years, he learned C++ and Java fundamentals at community college—and grew to love coding even more.

After transferring to ASU, his determination plateaued. Cesar needed something different—something that would reignite his passion.

He came across the coding boot camp at the University of Arizona. Impressed by the curriculum and on-site classes, he researched other Trilogy boot camps—and realized it was a perfect fit.

“Sure, I had a bit of a background in programming, but web development, frameworks, and JavaScript were all new. I knew I’d be challenged, and that was my goal,” Cesar said.

He enrolled in the intensive, part-time web development program—and less than a year later, is enjoying a career as a software engineer at American Express.

The decision of a lifetime

As part of the One Amex team, Cesar develops the infrastructure for all AmEx websites using React—one of the JavaScript libraries he learned at boot camp.

But his success transcends React, of course.

“Literally everything I learned at boot camp, I use [at work]. Not only that, but I have such a strong foundation that I’m able to pick up on new things so quickly and easily,” Cesar said.

In just six months, Cesar reclaimed his love for coding—and got back on track. He’s taken the opportunity to help others learn to code, too—previously working as a TA for the UA boot camp.

“Going to boot camp was one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life. More than ASU, more than the Air Force. It’s changed everything for me in just a year’s time,” he said.

Now, he has the chance to reach even higher.

Cesar’s ultimate goal is to work on “something huge, something that has an enormous impact on literally everyone.”

“It’s super scary, but I’d love to get to the point in my career where I feel comfortable jumping into something big that means so much to so many people. Hopefully I can get there,” he said.

Cesar is well on his way.

Get Program Info