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Software Engineering

Minh Trinh

The COVID-19 pandemic did not just change the way we work. For many, it also pushed them to explore other career paths. Among them was Minh Trinh, who found himself furloughed when the live entertainment industry suffered devastating impacts from the pandemic.

Although he later received an offer to come back, Minh decided to make a pivot to software engineering — a career path that remained relatively unscathed during the health crisis. Minh enrolled in General Assembly, a tech bootcamp that seeks to get students job-ready in less than a year.

After completing General Assembly’s Software Engineering Immersive Bootcamp, Minh launched his tech career as a Rotational Software Engineer at media and tech company, Comcast.

Here’s his story.

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

I graduated from college in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Economics, majoring in International Trade. Upon graduation, I did a career switch by not using my degree at all and exploring the entertainment field. In college, I found that I enjoyed working with creatives. So after several months, I went on to work in the Music and Comedy Touring department of a talent agency in LA.

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

I chose to explore a new career because COVID-19 stopped all live events, so I was furloughed. I had a lot of friends from college who pursued software engineering, and I took a couple of coding classes in college so I was curious enough to want to try a career switch.

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

My Career Coach was my favorite part of the program. She was very honest and gave us all the help we asked for and then some. She was extremely knowledgeable about the space and connected us with who she could. I mostly appreciate her candidness about the process.

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

I did not return to my old job, so I was unemployed when I started the program. I was pretty free and devoted all my time to the program. It was hosted on the East Coast, so that made it a little tough, but I embraced that and forced myself to be a morning person, which turned out to be very rewarding.

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

  • Your Spot. Using Node.js, HTML, CSS, and the Last.fm API, users can see the most popular tracks and artists while exploring similar ones.
  • Memento. It’s a MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js Full-Stack app where one can track and organize their life through journal entries.
  • Pluck, Pluck, Choose. Using Postgresql, Express, React, and Node.js, Pluck Pluck Choose is a place to upload images, vote on them, and play a ’Would You Rather?’ variant with them.
  • Florista (Plant Care Social). Using PostgreSQL, Express, React, Node.js, and the Trefle API, Florista is a place to get information on one’s plants and add them to their collection.

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

It is what you make of it. So, if you are sure and commit yourself wholly, it would be very rewarding. I would also advise doing some research before committing to any program and making sure the program fulfills your needs.

How did the program support you in finding a job?

From start to finish, they conducted workshops that helped us create our materials. We had workshops on resumes, cover letters, networking, coding interviews, and even negotiations. I also used the internal job board to find out about the job I ended up getting.

Was the job search process different from what you expected?

No, I expected it to be hard and cold. After “career switching” once, I knew that I would have to simply get my foot in the door and that meant sending out a lot of applications.

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

I had reach outs from 12 companies. I went with the company that seemed to give me the most opportunity to continue my growth as a software engineer. I also considered which company would be the best culture fit and would treat me the best.

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

The technical fullstack knowledge I gained from the program has been extremely useful (React, NodeJS, MongoDB, etc). In addition, the work ethic that was demanded of me during the course taught me how to set myself up for success.

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

Everything is different. Although the work I’m doing now is more mentally demanding, it’s much more rewarding. I’m learning a lot more daily. I’m also traveling more and meeting more people due to the job. In addition, the pay has afforded me increased opportunities than before.

What do you find fulfilling about being a software engineer?

The opportunity to learn every day is amazing. I also appreciate the idea that millions of people are using the product that I’m working on. I wouldn’t say that I’m making a difference but I’m a part of a company that does.

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

I’m currently a rotational software engineer, so I feel very thankful to have the opportunity to explore several teams and technologies before having to commit to one. I really enjoy the freedom and self-governance that my job provides me. The work-life balance is much better than before, and so is the pay. Additionally, I enjoy the people I’ve come to work with.

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

I highly recommend planning your job search and picking a strategy before starting. Then during your job search, take note of what is working and what is not working. Use that to refine your process and don’t be afraid to take breaks so that you can do your best in every part of the process.

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