Code the Dream and CTD Labs are thrilled to welcome their newest full-time junior developer, Denilson Velasquez.
A DACA recipient and native of Honduras, Denilson has lived in the US since he was very young – which is also when he started to develop a propensity for disassembling his toys, a development that he sees as a precursor to his interest in technology.
“I liked figuring out how things work, so I was always taking my toys apart and putting them back together,” he says.
In middle school, Denilson learned about coding for the first time. “I kind of fell in love with it, because I used to play this online game and I wanted to recreate that game. So I started to look into how to do that. And the first things I learned were PHP, HTML CSS. And that’s where my passion for coding started.”
Denilson continued to pursue his interest in coding in various ways, including trying to teach himself via online research, but he found himself at an impasse after high school. He was working a construction job and trying to figure out how to pursue a career in software development when he heard about Code the Dream.
“I already knew I could do websites, I had a beginner to medium-level skill set with coding. So I wanted to kind of advance my career, I wanted a real pathway. And my girlfriend told me about Kevin Arevalo and his experience with Code the Dream. So I looked into it, I figured out how to make some room to start taking my classes, and I applied. Getting accepted was one of the best days!”
CTD’s willingness to work with students who have jobs and real-world obligations is one of the things that helped him make the most of his educational experience with CTD, Denilson says. “I was able to work, which was really important for me. The mentorship was also a huge reason why it all worked for me. The mentors and the staff in general were so helpful — every time I had a question, they were very prompt with their help. I never felt like I was lost, basically.”
Denilson credits his CTD classes and subsequent apprenticeship with the further development of his tech expertise, but also with helping him learn general professional skills. “I would say that I didn’t have great professional communication skills when I first started at Code the Dream. But I’ve learned how to make a presentation to an audience, how to communicate with teammates, and solve issues together. As a web developer, it’s not all about coding — these other skills are important.”
When asked what advice he would give to people who may be interested in a career in tech but unsure how to proceed, Denilson says to be open to new opportunities and ask for help. “Don’t limit yourself to things that you feel capable of doing right now. Always have an open mind. And always look for opportunities and communities that are helpful to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Because there are great communities out there like Code the Dream.”