Chasing Adventure: How Learning to Code Gave Madison Tift the Power to Follow His Heart
Networking, linking up, grabbing a cup of coffee—whatever you call them, human connections are all about building a stronger sense of community. To Madison Tift, building those connections is what makes life worth living.
Madison considers the places he’s been, the people he’s met, and the organizations he’s been involved with badges of honor. For the past decade these badges have included a variety of work experiences, ranging from full-time nanny to data collection officer for the U.S. Census Bureau.
Always filled with wanderlust, Madison was ready to learn transferable skills that would let him roam anywhere in the world his heart desired. He saw coding as the perfect opportunity to start his bigger-picture journey—so he took the leap with the UCF Coding Boot Camp.
Starting the boot camp journey
Madison may be a south Florida native by birth, but he has called many places home. He completed his undergraduate degree at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. After graduation, he moved to New York City for a few years, and then to Seattle for some time after that.
It was a trip overseas where Madison’s coding journey really began.
“I met my girlfriend on a trip to Thailand—she’s German,” Madison said. “I knew I wanted to move to Germany to be with her, but I didn’t really have any skills that would enable me to get a job there.”
Madison knew tech was a high-demand field in Germany, so he began investigating ways to improve his coding skills. He started with free online coding classes and soon discovered that not only did he like the work, but he was also pretty good at it.
He talked to some friends who had been through boot camps before and they all spoke highly of their experiences—which was just enough to push the intrepid Madison to enroll in coding boot camp.
Connecting with people through tech
Madison was off and running the moment the boot camp started. He quickly discovered what many before him had come to realize—that the rigorous pace of boot camp slows for no one. Luckily, Madison was able to lean on his classmates for support.
“The people who naturally understood coding helped those of us who didn’t pick it up so easily, including me,” Madison admitted. “I would have had a lot of trouble making it through boot camp if it weren’t for some of my classmates helping me out.”
By the end of his boot camp, Madison was friends with every one of his classmates.
“It was a really good group, and all of us got along really well,” Madison said. “We had some people who were 18 and others who were 50. Everyone came from different places in life, but we were all there for the same reason.”
Madison especially enjoyed working with his peers on group projects.
One such project, Study Hall, allowed members of a class to create makeshift study halls by posting when they were headed to coffee shops or local libraries to get work done. Users could even use the app to search for reviews on study spots nearby.
“We thought of it as social media, but for studying,” Madison said.
Another project was called Potlucky—it used a back-end database to let party hosts organize events. Party guests could then sign up for what they wanted to bring. If Study Hall was social media for studying, this was social media for group dining.
For all his projects, Madison was inspired by the camaraderie around him—he was using technology to bring people closer together.
Finding a coding community
It wasn’t long before Madison had graduated from boot camp and made the decisive move to Germany with his girlfriend. The career services team at his boot camp was instrumental in connecting him with a German tech company.
He now works as a front-end developer for a community news start-up near Hamburg, and he uses his extra time to meet other local coders. Using an online meet-up site, he has discovered a local community of coders who share his passion for web development at organized events.
The meet-ups have landed him five new job interviews.
Just like he leaned on his boot camp classmates for help, the friends he’s made in Germany were equally supportive in making Madison feel welcome in his new home.
“The developer community is exactly that—a community. It really feels like a home,” said Madison.