Launcher Stories: Ross Hurlock

Dan Pickett

By Dan Pickett

September 1, 2022


Ross Hurlock’s career path has been anything but linear. He dreamed of joining the United States Marine Corps, but an asthma diagnosis forced him to consider other options. 

He studied history in college and went into Private Equity Law before becoming a House Manager and improv comedian at the ImprovBoston comedy theater. But once COVID-19 hit, he had to change course yet again. 

Ross was never seriously interested in mathematics or science. But interestingly enough, the skills that made him such a great improv comedian—thinking on his feet and working within a team—translate well to software engineering. When an improv mentor mentioned Launch Academy to Ross, something clicked into place in his head, and he decided to check out the program. 


Ross’s Epiphany: The Decision to Attend Coding Bootcamp

“I’d always been interested in nerd culture,” Ross said. He and his younger brother bonded as kids over building PCs to play games on. He was surrounded by engineers but never felt confident in his math skills, which discouraged him from pursuing computer programming or other similar disciplines. 

Encouraged by Launch Academy to pursue recommended readings and activities before enrolling in coding bootcamp, Ross took an initial programming course to help confirm (or deny) his interest in coding.

HTML and CSS were doable for him, but JavaScript was so challenging he almost quit before even truly getting started on his potential new career path. “I was wondering if I set myself up for a career of middling performance. . . I had to sit down and think. It was a serious financial investment,” he said. 

Ross made a three-column T-chart in his notebook with the categories “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe.” Whenever a thought about attending Launch Academy’s coding bootcamp entered his mind, he turned to the notebook and updated his chart as he saw fit. Two weeks later the chart was full. It was a close call, but ultimately, the “Yes” column won out. 

“The selling point was Launch Academy’s culture. I kept hearing it was the most amazing culture you see in a learning environment, and that was right,” he said. 


The selling point was Launch Academy’s culture. I kept hearing it was the most amazing culture you see in a learning environment, and that was right.


Ross’s Launch Academy Experience

Because Ross began his coding bootcamp experience in August 2020, he was part of the first fully digital cohort of the pandemic. “My initial thoughts were, ‘Oh gosh, is this going to work?’” he said. 

Fortunately, the members of his cohort communicated well, and during the first couple of weeks of the program, they were able to build the trust they needed to get through the program together. Ross developed meaningful relationships with the peers from his cohort, and he now lives with two other students he met through the program.

Test-taking isn’t Ross’s strong suit, so the assessments at the end of each week were challenging. But he found his groove eventually and was able to graduate coding bootcamp thanks to hard work, determination, and the support of his peers.

Still, the experience wasn’t without challenges.

For the group project, Ross’s group developed an app called Hikearoo that allows users to view all the trails in Massachusetts. One of his group members had a poor internet connection; another had a family to take care of. They had to adjust to each team member’s schedule and communicate strategically about the code if they wanted to succeed.

“It ended up teaching us the most valuable lessons in development, which are patience and communication,” Ross said. It also shattered the misconception that developers are lone wolves by showing the opposite to be true: “The best developers are people who work well with other people.” 


Preparation for the Software Engineering Job Market

The group project gave Ross plenty of points of discussion for job interviews. But the networking opportunities were the most beneficial aspect of Launch Academy’s coding bootcamp. 

He met someone at one of Launch Academy’s alumni nights while he was still in the program who gave him a referral once he graduated for the job he has now.

Currently, Ross works at 6 River Systems in Waltham, Massachusetts. He develops software that his teammates use to make logic maps for robots that move packages around warehouses.

“When I was at ImprovBoston, I thought that I’d found something—a community—that made work feel fun. But it wasn’t enough to make a really good living. So I thought, ‘Okay is this the tradeoff for the fun thing, that you might not be able to start a 401k?’ But Launch proved to me that you can have both. You can have work be something that’s really fun and rewarding, and you can own a car and maybe a house someday,” Ross said. 

Interested in pursuing a career in software engineering? Download Launch Academy’s syllabus