Army Vet to Full-Stack Developer: My FDM Journey

Paul Brown
24.10.2019 Published: 24.10.19, Modified: 24.10.2019 21:10:41

FDM Group Consultant Peer Support Ambassador, Mykal Sandoval, is an Army veteran who has worked hard to get where he is. Now working with a leading housing finance provider in the United States as an AMTM-Akatsuki Developer, Mykal has shared his journey with us.

My story is one of grit, passion and struggle, spanning from Arizona to North Carolina, across international waters from Pyeongtaek, South Korea to Australia. These experiences, while challenging, have made me the successful IT professional I am today.

My time serving the United States Army provided me with a strong foundation that has guided me through a multitude of important lessons that I use both personally and professionally. Towards the end of my service with the Army, I was looking to kick-start my software experience and begin my transition into civilian life.  Although I didn’t have a computer science degree or experience in the field, I knew I wanted to be a Full Stack Developer.

My first coding experience occurred in August 2017 through a competitive Microsoft Veteran’s program. After passing a general Microsoft software certification, I spent the last few months of my contract in a class led by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Microsoft. There I learned C#, .Net, SQL and tips from Microsoft Mentors to further my professional development.

I then returned to my hometown in Arizona, and the job search was on! It didn’t take long for me to realize I still lacked the basic experience and knowledge needed to lock in a full-time software engineering job. As I continuously searched and interviewed for various software engineering positions, I received a call from an FDM Veteran recruiter. I knew this would be my chance to gain the missing knowledge I sought after and to solidify some important programming principles.

Thoughts and feelings of inadequacy crossed my mind on several occasions, as I’m sure many others striving to conquer a goal have experienced. Despite this, I capitalized on the opportunity, knowing FDM would connect me with like-minded, highly intelligent and hard-working individuals. I took the leap and made the move from Arizona to Herndon, Virginia to join the FDM Academy. Two months into training at FDM I had the opportunity to interview for a Full Stack Developer role. I knew I had to put my best foot forward. I was sure to communicate my dedication and passion for my craft, which landed me the position at Fannie Mae.

Luckily, a fellow FDMer and I started on-site together in September of 2018. There were times when we felt nervous and unprepared, but thanks to FDM, we had all of the knowledge necessary to be successful. The first six months of life on-site involved a lot of Java work, writing and editing UI components and backend validations, SQL query optimizations and much more! I’ve since joined a new team which I had the opportunity to name myself, and have reached for new development opportunities to gain more knowledge in all areas of the programming spectrum.

Recently, I took on an additional role as an FDM Consultant Peer Support ambassador for Virginia. I take pride in being able to help other consultants during challenging times, such as starting a new role on-site. Now I can be a friend to those who chose to make the move to Virginia with FDM.

I often reminisce on my career and feel immensely humbled by the extent of my growth in just one year, from starting with FDM to my continued development while on-site with Fannie Mae. I’m a big believer in writing your own story, and I’m curious; do you know how your story reads?


Want to experience life-changing opportunities like Mykal? Find out more about our Veterans, Graduate and returner opportunities today!