AIM Code School


How David Dugger Went From Homeless to Project Manager

“In a total of about 16 months, I went from homeless, jobless, with just $70 to my name (and $50,000 in debt) to Web Development Project Manager at a multimillion dollar company here in Omaha.” – David Dugger

14 months before he applied to Interface, David Dugger was homeless, jobless, and down to his last $70. Realizing he needed to make a drastic life change, he walked into a UPS packaging store to see if they were hiring. The next day, he was hired as a package handler making $150 per week as he worked the night shift, putting hundreds of packages into cargo trailers to go out on delivery the next day. He walked to and from work every day and spent time thinking about the next steps he needed to take.

David DuggerAbout a month later, David found a temp position as a door greeter in a retail store, which transitioned into a part-time retail sales job. At that time, he was living in a storage room in a trailer park in North Platte, NE to save money so
that he could move somewhere with better opportunity. After about 10 months of working that retail sales job, he finally saved up enough money to take a chance on himself and move across the state to learn web development. His tuition and learning expenses were covered by the CONNECT Grant from the Nebraska Department of Labor. He wanted to take the first opportunity he could find. Just after getting approved for the CONNECT Grant, the Program Coordinator at the Department of Labor recommended Interface. 

Before the course started, David made the 4-hour drive to Omaha for one of Interface’s info sessions. “I made the drive, because up to that point, I was still skeptical of the program. You hear all over the internet that there are good code schools and bad code schools, so it behooves you to do research to see if a code school is a great one or not,” said David. “During the info session, Shonna’s presentation showed live demonstrations of websites the previous class built from scratch. It was so cool to see her eyes light up when she said that the students who built these previously had no code experience. She truly cares about each one of her students. Seeing the live demonstrations helped, but what really won me over was when she said that she has the experienced professionals to help us learn to code, and she can set up mock interviews and resume building workshops, but she can’t do the work for me. It was honest and straight to the point, and I really appreciate that.”

In September 2016, David was accepted to the JumpstartLabs program. It was a collaboration between an internet marketing company called BCom Solutions, Interface Web School, and the Department of Labor funded by the CONNECT Grant. He got instruction for four hours a day, three days a week from Sourabh Chakraborty, the Interface instructor, and students were responsible for learning the material outside of class.

“Sourabh was instrumental in my success, and a good friend to this day,” David recalls. The class went through November 2016.

After the course was over, David was ready to get a job in the tech industry. He reached out to Managing Director, Shonna Dorsey, for advice. “It was Columbus Day 2016 and I had just found out Interface had set up mock interviews in Omaha for the next day. Being a holiday, offices were closed but I decided to contact Shonna anyway to see if I could somehow get a mock interview set up in less than 24 hours. Shonna did her magic and got me the mock interview. I showed up and the recruiter liked me and my code so much, he contacted me towards the end of the class to see if I had any projects to show him to see if I was ready for any jobs. I sent him some code examples, he passed them off to a hiring manager, I got called for an interview, and landed the job,” David recalls. “Shonna setting up that mock interview in less than 24 hours eventually led to my first job in Omaha in the tech industry. Just a few days after my course at Interface ended, I was offered a job in Omaha in the tech industry. I still ask people to pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming!

David wanted three specific things out of his new career:

  1. A “future-proof” job that would be in high demand for the foreseeable future
  2. A salary that would allow him to pay back his massive student loan debt and begin saving for a home
  3. A career that would allow him to progress and grow as a professional

“In a total of about 16 months, I went from homeless, jobless, with just $70 to my name (and $50,000 in debt) to Web Development Project Manager at a multimillion dollar company here in Omaha.”

David ended up as a WordPress/PHP Project Manager at C&A Industries. There, he customized HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, WordPress themes, plugins, and he wrote creative content for their intranet training website that was seen and used by over 1,000 employees. His favorite parts of his new career included planning and developing the website each day, restructuring content to create a better user experience for trainees, then delegating tasks and working on his own project for the day.

“I plug in my headphones and listen to music, podcasts about business, art, technology, or whatever I want as I code, write content, edit in Photoshop, redesign pages, or completely code new material from scratch. I get to develop the web every day for people to see, use, and interact with. This isn’t just a job for me, I genuinely love this and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Dugger said he would “absolutely recommend Interface to anyone and everyone that wants to learn to code that is willing to put in the work to be a success story.”

Prior to even discovering Interface, in July of 2015 David was preparing to apply to another code school. He made a post on Reddit about his plan and backstory, that post made it to the front page in less than 24 hours. You can read that post here.