Leveling Up: How Apprenticeship Broadened Sunny Patel’s Developer Expertise

Leveling Up: How Apprenticeship Broadened Sunny Patel’s Developer Expertise

8th Light
8th Light

April 26, 2022

Sunny Patel was three years into a successful financial services career when he felt himself tugged in another direction. He saw a glimpse into his new future while helping lead a team of developers to build an in-house application for his finance team.

Name: Sunny Patel
Location: New Jersey
Time at 8th Light: 2 years and 7 months
Time in the industry: 4 years and 1 month

“I was introduced to the technical aspect of the field, such as APIs and architecture design, which I found fascinating. I have always been curious about how software was built,” he says. “However, what really pulled me in was the final product — being part of a team that built a product that added direct value to its users. That’s when I decided I wanted to build software that helps people so they can focus on more important things!”

Sunny began his career change by enrolling in App Academy's Software Engineering Immersive program. He went on to work as a Software Engineer Technical Instructor, coaching students in coding best practices. He also joined the development team at Who's Saving the Planet Podcast as an intern, where he helped deliver a brand new website focused on promoting sustainability and climate change.

With experience under his belt, Sunny looked for another way to level up his skills. He applied for 8th Light's apprenticeship program because of its track record for training career changers into capable software crafters. "I was in search of a company that would invest in my growth and learning, rather than throwing me into the deep end expecting me to float," he says. With his background in finance, he also was drawn to 8th Light's employee ownership program.

Learning to Craft

Although Sunny had already proven that he could build working software, 8th Light’s apprenticeship curriculum provided a deeper working knowledge that empowers developers to understand not just how, but why some technical decisions have cascading effects.

“Since starting the apprenticeship, I've learned the software engineering principles advocated at 8th Light to prepare me for the Crafter role,” Sunny says. “My time in the apprenticeship program has been spent on gaining a breadth of knowledge across various technical topics including software design, TDD, service-oriented architecture, databases, infrastructure and operations, and more.”

An example of the apprenticeship's combination of breadth and depth is the HTTP server project. Although most developers will have used HTTP servers in their work, 8th Light's apprenticeship curriculum forces developers to confront all of its underlying complexities by building their own server. "This project was challenging yet extremely rewarding," Sunny says. "I had to use my understanding of servers to craft a functional design and implement it in a programming language I was unfamiliar with. I learned about the HTTP protocol, the request and response cycle, and how to serve structured data."

Sunny also has taken advantage of 8th Light’s learning and development budget to purchase books and courses that help him continue to stretch his knowledge and build on his experience in new ways.

Building a Career

The best advice Sunny has received in his career is "never shy away from asking questions, no matter how insignificant you think they are." At 8th Light, he's found a community that is always eager to help him find answers.

"The members of my mentor team have had the most influence on my career," Sunny says. "They have supported my learning and development from a technical aspect, but as well from a professional standpoint."

Additionally, Sunny has taken advantage of opportunities to pair-program with other developers in his apprenticeship cohort. These collaborations help him improve his interpersonal as well as his technical skills.

As for advice to someone beginning a similar career change, Sunny doubled down on his advice. "When struggling with a complex problem, don't spend too much time on it. Instead, reach out to your team members and tackle it together," Sunny explains. "In doing so, time is not wasted, and rather value is achieved by both parties."

Outside of work, Sunny trains for competitive races, such as Spartan races. He also enjoys traveling. Having already visited Iceland and traveled across Europe, he’s planning his next trip to southeast Asia.

Check out our other Employee Spotlights or learn more about careers at 8th Light.