Bridging the Gap Between Finance and Tech: Eduardo Vilchez Translates Currency into Coding
When asked what sparked his interest in coding, Eduardo Vilchez is quick to note that he’s always been intrigued by the interplay between business and technology. After graduating from the Honors College at Florida International University with a BS, and later, an MS in accounting, Eduardo held various finance jobs on the path to becoming a CPA. But he wasn’t entirely satisfied.
“I wanted to learn something that was going to allow me to dive into technology,” he said. “But I never really had the time to do it. I finally decided to take that leap of faith.”
Resigning from his job to focus full-time on coursework, Eduardo enrolled in the University of Miami Coding Boot Camp. Within 24 weeks, he turned his vision into reality.
Stacking up knowledge
It was the boot camp’s full-stack development that had called out to Eduardo. He knew that the inclusion of back-end programming would give him a fuller spectrum of understanding—affording him more opportunities down the road than other boot camps.
“I realized that I was lagging behind in terms of my understanding [of technology and IT], but I didn’t like having to depend on handing my work off to other people. I wanted to be able to see the whole picture—behind the scenes,” said Eduardo.
Bridging the gap to finance with a game
Eduardo faced a significant learning curve. He’d had only slight previous exposure to coding—mostly self-taught and inspired by his innate curiosity. Additionally, Eduardo struggled with the idea of tying in his current career with his aspirational one. It wasn’t until he started working on what would become his final boot camp project that he saw how everything would come together.
That project was an educational app for financial literacy, which simplified financial jargon for laypeople. Eduardo and his team created an app using “dummy data” from the online multiplayer game GuildWars, which has its own economy. Using the game’s API, Eduardo and his team were able to analyze the data and apply algorithms to it to better understand commodities pricing, predict future prices, and create long-term projections of their returns. Eduardo and his team hoped the app would attract a market unfamiliar with finance—and provide an introductory education.
“It made analysis fun,” said Eduardo. “For somebody unfamiliar with the stock market, a video game is more relatable and approachable.”
Translating inspiration into soft skills
For Eduardo, the boot camp staff was incredibly supportive throughout the course. In particular, he found his instructor surprisingly relatable. That was a great inspiration to Eduardo.
Eduardo’s fellow students were no different. “We were all looking for new opportunities, and taking this risk together to learn something that was foreign to most of us,” he said. “We were all very willing to help each other, and learn beyond the classroom.”
Eduardo was able to not only expand his technological knowledge but also refine his presentation skills, find creative and constructive solutions to problems he hadn’t previously considered, and learn how to compromise with his project teams—even (and especially) when everyone disagreed.
“I’d worked on teams before, but usually we would all have the same background,” he said. “This was very creative and very open, and that was a new thing for me.”
Bridging two worlds
At the completion of his boot camp, Eduardo began searching for a role that would capitalize on his new and old skills alike. With his established understanding of the business world, coupled with the skills he had learned in coding and data analysis, Eduardo set off to find a way to bridge the two.
After a few weeks of searching, Eduardo was hired to do just that, becoming a systems analyst at McKinsey & Company.
“Now I get to be the mediator between business users of a particular system and the engineers,” said Eduardo. “I speak both languages: the business side and the engineering lingo.”
Eventually, Eduardo would like to take on more of a project manager or consultant, overseeing multiple projects simultaneously and helping companies or organizations integrate technology into their core business strategy. For now, he’s confident that his newfound knowledge will take him into positions he had once only imagined.
“Signing up for boot camp is a great idea if you don’t want to completely change your career or invest in a formal degree. It’s a great investment with a quick return,” he said.