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Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive

Julie Wu

Julie Wu’s career path started as a licensed architect. Although she enjoyed her work, she was among the millions of workers who lost their jobs in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. With her career in architecture cut short, Julie sought to transition to software engineering.

While studying and practicing architecture, Julie always found herself working adjacent to software engineering. Keen to learn more about it, Julie picked up JavaScript from scratch and studied rigorously to gain admission to the reputable software engineering school, Codesmith. Fast forward to today, Julie works as the first in-house front end engineer at Databook.

Here’s her story.

Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending Codesmith?

I hold an architectural license in California. I was practicing architecture, exercising my love for design, and helping to build coworking spaces until my employer had to let me and my team go due to the pandemic.

What motivated you to explore a new career, and why did you decide to pick Codesmith?

I was working on a design competition with my colleagues as we explored the future of the work environment, specifically what the next workspace would be like amid the pandemic. One aspect of our proposal was creating a digitally immersive experience so that folks could feel more connected to their coworkers, even if they were physically separated. This very aspect of our design required software integration, which was a completely foreign concept to me and became a key reason that piqued my interest in learning what this field entailed.

What did you like about  Codesmith? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?

The Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive program was intense. The material they taught was challenging, and the program required serious investment of time and money. It was something that I took a chance on, not knowing how I would come out on the other side. It was a bet that I made with myself and, looking back, I have no regrets.

Codesmith is a special place; I have walked away with more than a handful of truly genuine friendships that I will always cherish.

How did you fit the program into your schedule?

Before becoming a full-time hermit, I gave my friends and family a heads-up. I needed to get back on my feet as fast as possible, so I treated the program as the only thing in my life for the next three months. Some might say architects are known to be masochistic, and this may be true to some extent.

Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?

Most of our projects were team-based. My capstone project was OSLab’s ReacType—our team developed Version 5.0. It is a dev tool that allows users to quickly create React components via a drag-n-drop interface. Legacy code from Version 4.0 presented various opportunities to improve the front end implementation and UX/UI design.

Other projects included developing a password-sharing app for video streaming and iterating on a help desk ticketing app.

Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?

If you’re serious about making a change in your life and you want Codesmith to be a part of it, consider doing the following:

  • Clear your schedule to dedicate yourself to this program.
  • Set up your workspace so that you can endure long hours in front of the computer.
  • Designate your eating and sleeping schedule and stick to it. Prioritize your health. You need to last until the end of this program and the job hunt period so that you can actually make use of your investment.

How did the program support you in finding a job?

I learned how to write clean code. Codesmith has a fabulous alumni network and their hiring team made sure that we were equipped with tools to best position ourselves in the job market, i.e., how to do a cold outreach, how to negotiate, and so on. They also made themselves available when I needed feedback on my takehomes. Oh, and did I say they’re always happy to hear from you no matter how long ago you graduated?

Was the job search process different from what you expected?

I had no expectations—only that it took longer than I had hoped for. The job search can be a pretty relentless and unforgiving process. So, remember to surround yourself with plenty of folks who love and support you.

How many companies did you interview at? How did you choose which one to work with?

I got to the final rounds with approximately 20 companies and came down to two offers on the table. I took a bit of time to choose, and I was fortunate to have had that time. I considered the total compensation package, the type of work I would be doing, and my gut feeling about the people I interacted with during the interview. It was not an easy decision.

How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?

I think it is easy for “veterans” in the tech industry to underestimate folks who come out of immersive programs or from career changes, for that matter. In my engineering experience so far, some cannot tell that I come from a different background, and those who are more senior would sometimes be pleasantly surprised when I exceed their expectations.

What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work?

My main stimulant is the day-to-day challenge of doing something I’ve never done before.  Interpersonally, I report to an amazing manager who acknowledges my unconventional background and supports me in whichever avenue I wish to pursue in my career. We both love Kirby and I feel well taken care of on his team.

What do you enjoy about working at your current company? Are there any specific perks you enjoy?

I get to work remotely for the most part and receive complementary lunches when I do go into the office. I enjoy taking part in my team’s get-togethers and company retreats. We have stipends for continuing education and a home workspace setup, which have been pretty useful.

Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?

Keep interviewing. Keep interviewing. Keep interviewing.

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