In 2014, Lucas Taffo left Brazil to study at a music school in Los Angeles. Afterward, he worked as a freelance musician in Nashville. However, like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic convinced him to start a new career in software engineering. After doing his research, he enrolled in the Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive Program at Codesmith. Below, Taffo shares his story.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending Codesmith?
Before attending Codesmith, I was a freelance musician in Nashville, Tennessee, involved mostly in music production and playing concerts for artists. I moved to the US from Brazil in 2014 to study music, which I did at the Musicians Institute.
What motivated you to explore a new career, and why did you pick Codesmith?
Like many others, the pandemic motivated me to pursue a career as a Software Engineer. I have a close friend who attended Codesmith in 2018. After doing some research on various programs, it became clear to me that Codesmith was one of the top choices.
What did you like about Codesmith’s Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive Program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
I really enjoyed my time at Codesmith, and I could talk about it for a while – starting with the instructors to the staff and the quality of the curriculum. The highlight is definitely the Outcomes team. They do a phenomenal job of preparing students for the interviews from how to answer technical and behavioral questions to building your resume and LinkedIn profile, as well as post-graduation support. They’re incredible!
How did you fit the program into your schedule?
I was lucky not to have worked during the three months of the program. If you’re considering doing the Full-Time Immersive program, I’d recommend doing the same if possible. For people who can’t, there’s always the Part-Time Software Engineering Immersive Program.
Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?
At Codesmith, you work on a lot of projects. We had a Hackathon, which was only a day long, a solo project, and a “scratch project” where you and your team have to build something from scratch. There was also an iteration project where you get to iterate on another group project, followed by the reinforcement project at the end. The most important one, however, is the Open Source Project (OSP), which is a four-week project.
Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?
Codesmith is not an easy program to get into if you don’t have a technical background. But do not let that scare you. Lean on the community, as there are hundreds of other people trying to get in as well. Focus on your technical communication, and try to keep a growth mindset.
How did the program support you in finding a job?
Codesmith does an amazing job at supporting you during the program and after graduating. The Outcomes team is the reason why Codesmith’s outcomes rate is higher than other programs. They are very thorough and they set you up for success. However, at the end of the day, it’s up to you to put in the work and get the most value from what Codesmith offers.
Was the job search process different from what you expected?
Not really. I think Codesmith did a great job at setting expectations, so I had a really good idea of what was to come. I’d say, if anything, I was surprised at how accurate they were about what the job search process looks like.
How many companies did you interview at? How did you choose which one to work with?
I had about 20 phone screens, 10 second-round interviews, and four final-round interviews. For me, it was an easy choice. The company I’m at today had by far the best interview process, and I enjoyed every interview and the persons I spoke with. Today, I get to work with most of those people and it has been wonderful.
How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?
They are crucial but it’s not necessarily about being the most technical person in the world. Of course, you have to be able to do your job and do it well, but I think learning how to work in a technical team—everything from version control to code reviews, scrum processes, etc—sometimes gets overlooked. Master your tools, master your infrastructure, but also master your ability to be effective in a team.
What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?
The life of a software engineer is a lot more structured and consistent than the life of a freelance musician. There’s more security, of course, but my favorite part about my work now is being able to collaborate with incredible people. I got to do that as a musician, sure, but it’s a lot of fun being part of a 500+-people company.
What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work?
I love being able to deliver quality features in collaboration with my team. At the end of the day, a lot of us are ICs (Individual Contributors), but as I said, collaboration is essential to shipping software.
What do you enjoy about working at your current company? Are there any specific perks you enjoy?
I love working at my current company. I enjoy flexible work hours, unlimited PTO, and plenty of holidays. The company is based in Washington, DC, but I work remotely from the West Coast. I also really enjoy the space the company is in, which is global decision intelligence.
Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?
If you’re attending Codesmith, lean on the community. Master your tools, master your infrastructure, and master your ability to be effective within a team. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. Pursuing a career as a software engineer is not easy, but I truly believe that anyone can do it.