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Meet Peter: How one Scene Painter Found Creativity in Coding

Meet Peter: How One Scene Painter Found Creativity in Coding

To Peter Baker, painting scenic backgrounds for a theatrical stage actually has a lot in common with software development.

And he should know! Peter transitioned to a career in tech with the help of Dev10 in 2021. Prior to his current work with a national retail chain as a software engineer, Peter worked for a decade designing and painting sets and backdrops for theater groups, including the Minneapolis-based Children's Theatre Co. and the Guthrie Theater.

“When you’re working on a project, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a theater or as part of a coding team, the approach is the same,” Peter said, adding, “It was very easy for me to transfer my skills from working on a theatrical project to working on a coding project.”

Making a Career Change

So what made Peter even contemplate making such a radical career change? Like many, it was the pandemic. Theaters closed in 2020, and Peter decided to take the time to learn a new skill. First, he signed up for a bootcamp through the University of Minnesota and began looking for coding jobs. After 6 months of applying and no job offers, he found Dev10.

“This was just what I needed to get my foot in the door,” he said.

While he came into Dev10 with some coding experience thanks to that bootcamp, he praised the instructors and the curriculum at Dev10 for truly setting him up for success.

“My instructors were extremely helpful and patient and really got to know what I wanted to do and what I was excited about and actually challenged me to go above and beyond,” he said.

In particular, Peter praised James Churchill, Dev10’s director of instruction, for taking the time to really understand Peter’s goals and help him prepare for his client placement. In fact, he was so well prepared that soon after his client placement, he was converted by that client – a Minnesota-based electronics retailer – to be a full-time employee and, soon after that, was promoted from an associate to an engineer.

Not bad for a theater major turned coder!

Full-Stack Development

Today, at 34 years old, Peter is working on a mobile app for employees to better assist customers. It’s a complicated tech stack, utilizing React, Java and Android.

And just because he’s working in tech, that doesn’t mean he’s completely shut the door down on his creative background.

“You can bring all sorts of ingenuity and creativity to the field [of software development] and it’ll serve you well,” he said.

Looking back, Peter says he always had a passion for technology, even if he didn’t pursue a tech degree in college. During his work in theaters he was always pushing to leverage technology to make his job more efficient. But he had doubts, like many do, that he could really pursue a tech career when he was a decade out from graduating from college. What Dev10 taught him, in additional to coding skills, was that no one is “too old” to take on a new challenge.

“All you need is the excitement and the drive and you can learn anything,” he said.


Watch Peter's Video

Click on the questions below to hear Peter's answers

Q: Why did you apply to Dev10? Q: What are you working on today?
Q: What did you think of the Dev10 instructors? Q: What do you say to people who think they're too advanced in their careers to make a change?