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Software Engineering Immersive

Michael Chen

For someone with a healthcare and military background, you would think Michael Chen is off to a promising career. However, the road to career success in his field is long, tedious, and expensive. He shares, “I didn’t know what to do and healthcare was a long path [for someone who is] financially unstable. I wanted a fast-growing career.”

So, he pivoted to the tech industry and enrolled in General Assembly’s Software Engineering Immersive program. Now, Michael works in a fulfilling job as a Junior Software Engineer for Mercury Insurance. And he gets to do it fully remotely!

Here’s how General Assembly helped Michael break into tech.

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

I worked as an EMT at PRN Ambulance while I was in first-year college. [Then I] joined the Marine Corps and finished studying Biological Sciences.

Why did you pursue a new career or upskill in your field? What inspired you to choose this bootcamp?

I didn’t know what to do, and healthcare was a long path [for someone who is] financially unstable. I wanted a fast-growing career. So, I asked all my software engineering friends about the curriculum that General Assembly has, and they said that it was good.

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

I enjoyed the fact that there was more of doing than just listening [in class]. Coding with the instructor was very beneficial as it taught us the basics. It helped expand our knowledge.

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

It was a full-time program and I wasn’t working at the time, so it fit right in. I also did food delivery at night to make some money.

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

We worked on four projects in total. The first project was [creating] a basic game. The next three projects were full-stack websites where each got more intensive [and required us to use] different tools of our choice.

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

Continue to work hard and keep your motivation in mind.

Did the job search post-bootcamp turn out as expected? How did the job search process differ from your expectations?

It somewhat turned out as expected. I expected [the job search] to be difficult and to get tons of rejections. Although, I did get a job significantly faster than I thought it would take.

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

I don’t remember but [it was important that the company I work with to be a good fit]…For instance, they should have a good mission and be willing to train and mentor their workers.

How did the program support you in finding a job? Did you find a job after the bootcamp?

General Assembly provided me with the resources like having a career coach who checked in on us every day, every week, [or whenever needed].

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

The most important skill I acquired from the bootcamp was the basics of [software engineering] and lifelong learning. A decent amount of what I do [at my current job] is different from in the bootcamp, but getting to a point where I can perform as a software engineer is sufficient.

What are the most satisfying aspects of your job? What motivates you to keep doing it?

[I’m satisfied when] I see my work getting positive feedback. I also work on [providing] accessibility, so it’s great to do something good.

How does your current company align with your values and goals? Are there any benefits or perks that make working for this company particularly enjoyable?

[My company is very accommodating to my needs in life]. Also, they challenge and help me grow my skills continuously.

In what ways has your life changed since attending the bootcamp? Can you describe any notable differences in your life pre- and post-bootcamp?

My life is completely different. I mean, I was expecting to do grunt work in healthcare. Now, I’m working fully remotely, talking to tech experts, and meeting other interesting people who I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t attend the bootcamp.

If I aspire to be in your line of work, what are the most crucial skills I should be working on right now?

Have patience and perseverance. You can’t give up if one thing doesn’t work for you. [Use your] motivation to see you through your pain, struggles, and problems.

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