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Thriving Professionally in Uncertain Times


Justin Blobaum graduated from the Midland University Code Academy in April 2020 – the same timeframe of record job loss and unemployment rates in the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenging job market, he landed a position as a junior software developer at HobbyTown in Lincoln, Neb. 

“The job search during the pandemic was tough,” said Blobaum. “I had some interest from a company early on that got my hopes up, but after that it was a grind.  I interviewed with several companies, all of which went really well, but after receiving feedback it was clear that the pandemic had made it impossible for those companies to hire someone with no job experience at that time.”

A willingness to change and be flexible changed his life.

After working in the food service industry for nearly a decade, Blobaum enrolled in the Code Academy in the hopes of pursuing a career that would excite him and increase his income for his family. He started the in-person program in January but the pandemic forced learning online for the remainder of the cohort.  His job search started upon graduation.

“I started out only applying for jobs that not only were looking for someone within my skill range but also looking for companies that were using the tech stack that we focused on in the Code Academy,” he said. After more than a month of applying for jobs, he switched his focus to “basically any job that was not for a senior level position.” He also applied for nationwide remote jobs instead of only looking at local positions. “In total, if I were to guess, I would say I applied for at least 40 jobs – probably more.”

Blobaum’s education helped him stand out.

Though job numbers in the United States were still relatively bleak in August of 2020, Blobaum started his new job at HobbyTown at the beginning of the month. He felt confident and ready to get started, largely because of the training and education he received at the Code Academy. 

“The Code Academy really prepared me for my role well,” he said. “I was actually hired due to my experience with Angular framework and the fact that it was the major focus for the Academy. Code Academy also taught me how to teach myself, because the class was so fast paced it was imperative that you could nail down concepts on your own, and that helped me during my job search, as well as in my new position.”

He faced a challenging beginning in a challenging time.

Much like the Code Academy’s final weeks, Blobaum’s new position was a remote role. He says that was the biggest challenge for him when it came to settling into the new job. “Without being able to work next to your new co-workers, getting to know everyone you work with is more difficult as well as getting up to speed with the new code base and technologies is a tougher task as well.  Thankfully, I had a ton of help and there were several people available to me at all times to walk me through things, and they continue to be very patient with me.”

Blobaum offers tips for upgrading your career in a challenging market.

As unusual as it may sound to switch careers and find a dream job during a global pandemic, Blobaum was able to make it work.

  • Get the right education. His experience with Angular framework at the Code Academy is what got him hired.
  • Pick up the pace. The fast pace of the Code Academy prepared him for the fast-paced hustle of finding a new job. 
  • Keep learning. While he was searching for a job, he made “increasing and expanding my knowledge base” his job until he landed a new position. 
  • Think outside the box. Open junior developer positions were scarce at the beginning of his job search so Blobaum started looking at other developer jobs and applied for more positions.
  • Don’t lose confidence.  “The experience you gain in the Code Academy is enough to get you looked at by employers,” said Blobaum. “But if you don’t take your knowledge and grow on your own it will be much tougher to find something.”

Blobaum enjoys success with gratitude.

“I just want to thank everyone at Midland associated with the Code Academy,” he said. “Mike is a great instructor; he pushed us to be better. Looking back at where I was before the Academy compared to now there is no way I could have done this on my own.  All the support staff was so supportive and kind. They really put a lot of energy into getting the best product for the students, and they made us feel at home on campus.”

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