Launcher Stories: Josh Halpern

Dan Pickett

By Dan Pickett

December 14, 2022


Josh Halpern had been working in the film industry for nearly six years. He put in 18-hour days working as a production assistant on TV shows, movies, and commercials. Eventually, he needed a change, so he began doing audio-visual work for events and hotels until COVID-19 hit, shutting everything down.

This unintended pause led Josh to wonder what career direction to embark on next. He envisioned a new role that was more intellectually and creatively stimulating and a little less reliant on needing to know the right people at the right time to get ahead.

“I wanted to use my brain instead of doing menial labor. And find something that interests me,” Josh recalled. “I wanted to do something I was invested in and felt rewarded by doing a good job at it.”

After chatting with some of his mechanical engineering friends, Josh realized that becoming a software engineer could be a good fit. These conversations brought back memories of how he’d always loved computers, even from a young age. 

“Oh yeah, that fits. Why hadn’t I thought about that before?” Josh said. 


Josh’s “Yes” Moment: The Decision to Attend Coding Bootcamp

As a next step, Josh headed online to research programming courses and how to become a software engineer. Initially, on an early mission to become self-taught, he signed up for some free virtual JavaScript courses.

“I really took to it,” Josh said. “It just clicked.”


“I really took to it,” Josh said. “It just clicked.”


After studying for six months and feeling ready for a career switch, Josh started a job search. For a while, he sent out a dozen job applications per week, but unfortunately, he got zero responses.

“I realized I needed to show on my resume that I was capable of becoming a software engineer,” Josh recalled. Through additional research, he learned about coding bootcamps. And he spoke to engineering friends who highly recommended one called Launch Academy.

“I started researching Launch Academy more thoroughly and quickly realized it was everything I was looking for in a coding bootcamp,” he emphasized.


Josh’s Launch Academy Experience

When he first started coding bootcamp, Josh was thrilled to find that the six months he’d spent learning coding on his own didn’t go to waste. “Knowing the basics before I came into the program was extremely helpful,” he said. “I had an advantage going into Launch Academy because of the online coursework I’d taken prior.”

Josh’s studies at Launch Academy were interesting and exciting from the beginning. “It never felt like I was sitting in a lecture class trying to keep up,” he explained. “It always felt like an engaging conversation that felt natural to follow along.”

Importantly, the mental and creative stimulation Josh craved was a core component of his studies. “It was a good experience bouncing ideas back and forth and figuring out what we were going to build,” Josh said. “Every mistake was a learning experience.”

Josh also felt empowered by the supportive nature of Launch Academy’s program. “When I got stuck on an assignment—even before I needed to reach out to any instructors—my classmates were a big help. In just talking through my problems with them, usually, we were able to figure out how to proceed just through collaboration,” he said. 

“But when we all got stuck and couldn’t figure it out together, the instructors not only told us the answer but also showed us how to figure out the answer on our own.” 


Working in Software Engineering

Josh graduated from Launch Academy in August 2021. Next, he leveraged Launch Academy’s rich professional network to find a job. After two months of sending out resumes, he interviewed with five companies—all but one referred to him by Launch Academy.

In late 2021, Josh accepted a job as Software Test Engineer at Forge—an offer he received while his wife was in labor with their son! In this position, he reads code and performs testing and quality assurance processes.

Forge has gradually given him more programming work, with the goal of transitioning him to a full-time software engineer within the year. “Once I started getting programming assignments, I felt comfortable,” he said. “Being at work is now a great experience, and I take pride in what I’m doing.”

Josh believes Launch Academy turned what could have been an extremely stressful career transition into an opportunity to learn something deeply fulfilling. 


Launch Academy turned what could have been an extremely stressful career transition into an opportunity to learn something deeply fulfilling. 


Josh’s advice for budding software engineers? “My advice is to try free online coding bootcamp courses to dip your toes into the water of learning JavaScript and web development. It will help you understand if you like it and give you that knowledge base if you do decide to enter Launch Academy.”

If you, too, want to switch up your career and try out coding, download Launch Academy’s syllabus to see if coding bootcamp is right for you!