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Full-time Software Engineering Immersive

Marion Lessington (Mell), III

Despite a lucrative job as a branch manager for a bank, Mell had a strong urge to step out of his comfort zone and pursue a new passion — software engineering. To gain the skills to succceed in the field, Mell enrolled in General Assembly’s Software Engineering program, and he’s never looked back.

“Now, I get to show up to work, whether virtually or in the office, as my authentic self.”

Here’s his story.

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

I was a Branch Manager at a local Atlanta bank before attending General Assembly. At the time, I had been working in the banking industry for 10 years.

What motivated you to explore a software engineering career, and why did you decide to pick General Assembly?

I was helping my nephew navigate through the college process, [looking for] colleges with a good Computer Science program…I became curious about careers in Computer Science, and I learned that [you don’t need a] four-year college degree to get started.

I stumbled upon General Assembly…[and completed a couple of] free workshops on HTML and JavaScript. They challenged me in ways I haven’t been challenged in a long time and reminded me of what was possible. After the pandemic hit, I enrolled in the Full-time Software Engineering Immersive and fully embarked on this journey.

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

I loved the structured approach to learning and the connections I made in the bootcamp. But what stood out to me the most was that I learned how to learn again.

How did you fit the Software Engineering Immersive program into your schedule?

I treated it like a full-time job. Studying and practicing [after class] was my part-time job. It was a huge sacrifice and commitment, but I reminded myself that it was only for 12 weeks.

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

I created an [inventory] app called The Liquor Cabinet, which can electronically keep track of my quarantine spirits. I also worked on a group project called Fork It, which allowed users to input ingredients and get different recipes they could follow.

Do you have any advice for someone considering General Assembly’s Software Engineering Immersive Program?

Give it everything you’ve got, and you won’t be disappointed. What you learn at General Assembly has the potential to shift your career in an impactful way.

How did General Assembly support you in finding a job?

My Career Coach did not let me be lazy and held me accountable to my goals. She was committed to ensuring that I put in the work to land my first job.

Was the job search process different from what you expected?

Absolutely. I came out thinking that there was a line of recruiters waiting to pass out jobs. But [in reality], you have to put in the work and effort to demonstrate [that] you have the skills to succeed in the profession.

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

I was interviewed by about 10 companies. I chose my company based on the work culture and the compensation package.

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

The biggest skill I learned was problem-solving. In essence, it’s what a Software Engineer does all day.

What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?

Everything. I used to show up at work in suits and ties every day to do a job that was mundane, repetitive, and unchallenging. I was overweight and unhappy. Now I get to show up to work, whether virtually or in the office, as my authentic self. I’m 40 pounds down and I get up every day motivated to work.

What do you find fulfilling about being a software engineer?

No day is the same. No challenge is the same.

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

The retirement package, health insurance, and the $1,500 stipend every year for personal expenses, like my gym membership, Netflix, vet bills, and others. The company pays for any certifications I want to get, too. But the greatest perk is the work-life balance. We actually have one!

Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a software engineering career?

Don’t give up. Work on a project every day and network, network, network!

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