From Coding Learner to Chief Technology Officer: How Boot Camp Helped Luke Hayes Build His Own Career
Luke Hayes had always been interested in computers, but working for his family’s business set his career on a different path. His family owns Hayes Beer Distributing Company and a handful of its warehouses throughout Illinois. At 16, he officially joined the team as a forklift operator, then became a sales merchandiser and eventually a delivery truck driver.
When Luke went off to college, he studied computer science. The classes reignited his passion for technology, and he decided working for the family business wasn’t what he wanted. To further his education, Luke put his savings to use and enrolled in the Northwestern Coding Boot Camp.
Leveraging his prior experience—in more ways than one
When preparing for the boot camp, Luke knew to expect a more intense experience than his college studies, which had provided over a few years a background for a handful of programming languages. The boot camp would be teaching him a comprehensive suite of software and programming languages in mere months.
“The boot camp curriculum allowed me to put all of my disparate knowledge together,” said Luke. “I was able to organize my skills and gain a cohesive understanding of the full programming stack.”
For his other major project, Luke built a searchable database of drinks called Tipsy. With Tipsy, users can search different types of drinks and input their zip code to find liquor stores in their area that sell the ingredients they need. By using data analytic tracking, it would become a secret marketing weapon for distributors like his father—granting them an inside look into what the consumers in their areas are searching for.
Jumping into a start-up—and reaping the rewards
About a month after completing the boot camp, Luke started a company with his friends from school—and took on a lead role as the chief technology officer. The company, Exchange Bees, works to bring beekeepers and growers together to provide bee pollination services, beekeeping sale services, consultations, and more. Using drones and other leading-edge technologies, Luke manages a team of developers in tracking and analyzing beehive heat levels across farms, developing applications that farmers can use to manage and regulate their beehives, and working on different components of their own company website.
“I’m definitely happy to be in more of a project management role, where I can approve and refine code rather than develop it from scratch,” said Luke. “It’s a nice change of pace and I love being in a leadership position, but I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t have such a strong coding background of my own.”
Giving back to the coding community in a powerful way
Though Luke was able to carve out a path that he’s passionate about, he still has his professional sights set high. This year, Luke is in the process of creating an LLC under his personal brand, LJProductions. His goal is to leverage his own people skills—something that many coders struggle with—to help freelance developers secure contract roles.
“I want to create this LLC and leverage my entrepreneurial skills to benefit other coders,” said Luke. “Any freelancer I hire has the potential to secure contracting roles under the name of LJProductions, and I’ll handle the communications aspects of it all. The more great work we do for clients, the more freelancers I’m able to take on.”
Using his personal skills for the good of other programmers, Luke can give back to a community that has given him so much—and continue to stay active in multiple realms of the technology field.
“All of my interests, ventures, and successes have stemmed from boot camp,” said Luke. “You get out of anything in life whatever you put into it, and I put a lot into my learning experiences. In turn, I’ve gained amazing knowledge of the field that I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else.”