Published Jan 26, 2021
This Mobile Development Grad Beat the Odds
Mark Filter overcame homelessness to graduate with honors and excel in the mobile development industry.
Imagine that you're spending your days tackling college course material and sweating over homework and capstone projects at night. Now imagine that you're doing all of that while you're driving 80 miles round trip to your classes every day and completing your projects in a travel trailer with your seven young children. Most students would struggle, and many would throw in the towel — but those students aren't Mark Filter. The Full Sail grad excelled in his challenging circumstances and graduated as the valedictorian of his Mobile Development class. His bachelor's degree helped him land several rewarding positions in his field, giving him a life that looks very different from his time in the trailer.
Mark's career kicked off with military service, followed by 13 years in military intelligence participating in nuclear weapons inspections and lending his language skills as a diplomatic Russian interpreter. He was interested in working in federal law enforcement after he left, but he struggled to find a job in the wake of a federal hiring freeze. He sold his house and moved his family into a travel trailer at a campground, where they lived off their savings as they tried to figure out their next move.
"My wife said, 'Why don't you use the rest of your GI Bill and go and get a degree that's going to be life-giving?'" Mark says. "I already had a bachelor's degree in computer science, so I knew that I wanted to continue moving in that direction, but I knew I needed to find a more specialized career field with a pipeline that would be good for me and my family."
Mark came across YouTube videos featuring military veterans who had pursued Full Sail's technology degrees. The thumbs-up from fellow veterans sold him on the school, and he signed up for the Mobile Development program.
That military mindset helped Mark push through difficult material and demanding coursework amid the distractions inside his trailer.
"We had chaos going on and the kids are screaming, and diapers need to be changed," he remembers. But Mark stayed the course and graduated with perfect attendance, eleven Course Director Awards, and the Advanced Achiever Award.
Mark got a job offer almost immediately after graduation as Family Dollar Corporate's first full-time Mobile Application Engineer, where he worked on seven enterprise-facing iOS and Android mobile applications. From there, he quickly made the leap to Belk Corporate as their Principal Android Engineer, then moved on to a contract with Bank of America through APEX Systems. Currently, Mark helps support the iPad applications that Bank of America associates use every day in the company's 4,000 financial centers. He say that his Full Sail education set up him for success.
"With each passing year, I appreciate what I've learned in the mobile development pipeline all the more. There have been so many situations where I've been able to assist a designer, a project manager, a team lead, or a UX designer because of my broad understanding of mobile development. I can directly attribute that foundation of knowledge to the Mobile Development degree program and the numerous course directors who invested in my future."
Mark's mobile development jobs have also given his family a new lifestyle: Now they live comfortably in a five-bedroom, four-bath house in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. He's working from home during the pandemic, and the differences couldn't be clearer.
"I work in my own office now, a room with a door. I can separate my work life from my family life… I have a Google Home Mini in my office, so I can play relaxing classical music while I ponder the best way to compose some code or resolve a software bug. It's a stark contrast to how life was inside the travel trailer."