We often think of a coding bootcamp as a full-time commitment, but there are also part-time options that are still built for career changers. We caught up with two alumni who took two different paths – Andie quit her job and took the Codesmith Full-Time Immersive while Lanre decided to continue working and supporting his family while he took the Codesmith Part-Time Immersive. Both Andie and Lanre have been successful in their own right, landing careers at Google and Exodus Movement, and we’re diving into how they each did it!
Andie & Lanre, what were you each up to before Codesmith?
Andie (Full-Time): Before Codesmith, I was completely non-technical. I was working for a nonprofit in the Japanese American community in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. That was very fulfilling in different ways, but I realized I wanted to go the tech route. I started studying on my own and going to Codesmith’s free workshops. I got really into it and now I’m here!
Lanre (Part-Time): Before Codesmith, I was a freelance Software Engineer. I was basically doing small gigs for 5-7 years, everything I could get to get by. But I wanted to be a world-class engineer. I wanted to be an expert in dev ops and have a global impact.
One of the reasons I chose the Codesmith Part-Time Immersive, apart from the fact that I couldn’t get into the US, was that I had to continue to care for my family. I also had some other commitments, especially around here in Nigeria. I was able to juggle both of them together until I finished the program.
Andie, did you research any other coding bootcamps? Why did you choose Codesmith?
Andie (Full-Time): I definitely did a lot of research. This was a very big decision for me, so I looked into it quite a bit before I decided to go to Codesmith. I really enjoyed the workshops (which were in-person workshops at the time). I thought it was nice to be able to go meet people that might be in your cohort. There are remote workshops now as well that are amazing! I think seeing that community was a big motivator for me.
Also, the fact that so many graduates got high-paying jobs told me there was something different about Codesmith. It wasn’t even just about the salary that people were getting, but the fact that Codesmith was preparing students to get good jobs at high salaries – that spoke to me about the quality and it was a big reason for me in choosing Codesmith.
Lanre (Part-Time): I don’t see Codesmith as a bootcamp. When I was doing research on which bootcamp to go to, I found the entry-level requirements for Codesmith to be quite high. They don’t take you from “zero to ten” like most bootcamps claim, which is usually not realistic.
Codesmith wants you to start at 3 or 4 so that they can get you to exactly where you want to be. When I saw that I knew that’s something that was different. That really spoke to why I made the choice for Codesmith.
In addition, as I looked at alternatives, only the Codesmith curriculum had a production project that had to do with open source tools. Having worked with open source tools before and being a software engineer, I was really looking forward to being able to help the community develop tools we’ll be able to use.
What were each of your goals in doing Codesmith?
Andie (Full-Time): I was making a big career switch – that was my main goal. I can learn on my own as well, but I think going to an immersive bootcamp like Codesmith takes you to another level. Getting experience, learning a lot quickly, and being able to get a job afterwards was the path I was going for.
Lanre (Part-Time): I wanted to be an expert because I was still self-taught. I knew when it comes to development, I loved coding and coding best practices, but I was a generalist – a “jack of all trades, master of none.”
The moment I realized Codesmith basically trains you and introduces development, I knew that was exactly what I was looking for. That was what first sparked my interest and everything else followed in terms of the good experiences, high-paying jobs, etc.
How did each of you weigh the decision to do full-time or part-time?
Lanre (Part-Time): Family was one of the main reasons I chose part-time. I also did the entire program while in Nigeria, so that was an obvious reason. In addition to that, I’m not so sure I could keep up with the pace and the volume of work you do in a full-time course! It’s three months and you have to spend between 12 and 15 hours per day, and I learn slowly.
Apart from that, I had to take care of my family and it’s a different time zone. The majority of the time, the class was between 1:00 and 4:00 AM in Lagos, so the part-time course was an obvious choice for me.
Andie (Full-Time): I’m kind of on the opposite end – part-time did not exist when I started so I didn’t have the option. I do 100% think if I had the option, I still would’ve gone full-time. It depends on who you are and what’s going on in your life, I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could quit my job and go 100% into the full-time immersive.
I think my learning style is a little different from Lanre in that respect. I liked that it was compact and I didn’t have to spend nine months. It depends on what you want and how you want to learn, so weigh those options for yourself if you’re thinking about it.
I put a lot of time in for sure. They’re long days, but I think it was worth it for me. I wanted to work hard, learn as much as possible, and just get it done.
How did you spend your time in class and how long did you work on Codesmith outside of class?
Andie (Full-Time): I feel like the number of hours might scare people. This is cliche, but you’re going to get back out of Codesmith what you put into it. In the full-time immersive, there were many people that stuck to the regular Class Hours of 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
There are other people that stayed longer – sometimes I was there until 1:00 AM. That was completely my choice; it wasn’t required in any way. I felt like I had things to work on and I wanted to get better, so I spent time practicing. In some ways, it was easier to commit full-time because I had quit my job. I was dedicated to Codesmith 100% of the time, 24/7, without too many other things to think about. You can decide to stay late and keep working. I think it was worth it for me, it just depends on how much extra practice you think you’ll need.
Lanre (Part-Time): Class Hours were basically 18 hours a week – three hours a day (with a Free day on Friday) and a six hour class on Saturdays. Like Andie mentioned, how much time you spend is a function of how much you want to get out of Codesmith.
The part-time program is spread out intentionally because it's expected that you’ll have other commitments (family or a job). Codesmith Part-Time Immersive is well spaced out and oftentimes that gives you the opportunity to do something outside of class.
If you want, you can double up, do pair programming outside of class, or learn things that aren’t required. If you stay and trust the process, it eventually pays off.
Lanre, do you have advice for other part-time students to set themselves up for success and stay motivated?
Lanre (Part-Time): The program is designed in such a way that the team is constantly checking in. The setup of the program also helps you stay on track – the part-time program is divided into three sections and the first is about three months. You focus on the main curriculum and, to me, that’s the most challenging part of the part-time program.
In the second section, the project section, you start to utilize everything you’ve learned across the board. As an engineer, you become motivated to complete the project. Once I got to the last three months of the program, we were beginning to think about jobs and careers.
Andie (Full-Time): In the full-time program, I thought of the curriculum as broken into two modules – main curriculum and project phase, with our job search prep module integrated into the project phase.
Was the curriculum similar for you both in the full-time program?
Lanre (Part-Time): When you’re thinking about the technical curriculum, we’re all learning the same thing. The only difference is how the pattern is spaced out to accommodate everything else you’re doing in your other life.
How did Codesmith career services work out for each of you?
Andie (Full-Time): The full-time course goes quickly, so the job search creeps up on you. You start getting your resumes together and getting feedback, which is really helpful. The lectures on interviewing as a software engineer were very helpful because it’s very different from interviewing for non-technical positions.
All companies interview differently and something might be helpful for one company, but not another. I definitely did a lot of preparation on my own after graduation, as most people do. But the career portion at Codesmith was helpful in preparing me to be able to do that switch, pick things up, and move forward. I don’t want to make it sound like an easy road because the job search is tough. Codesmith will help prepare you and get you to that step, but you still have to do the work after, go through the job search, and apply for jobs.
Lanre (Part-Time): I had the same experience as Andie. In the last three months of Codesmith, we focused on algorithm optimization, technical phone screening, and how to optimize our online profiles. I also had a couple of one-on-ones with the career team.
In addition to that, there are post-grad career services. The truth is that the part-time immersive is just as intense and immersive as the full-time, so during the 9-months, it was hard for me to focus on career services because of time and distractions, but I got all of that after my graduation. Codesmith provides you with an opportunity to join in the career services and lectures every week after your graduation. That helped me prepare for my job search.
Andie, how did you get your job as a Software Engineer at Google? Did Codesmith help?
Andie (Full-Time): I was connected to a recruiter at Google through a Codesmith Fellow (I also did the Codesmith Fellowship)! We started talking and that’s how my application process started. In a roundabout way, it was connected to Codesmith.
Were the hiring managers at Google impressed that you went to Codesmith?
Andie (Full-Time): My managers didn’t know what Codesmith was when we talked about it, but the general perception was that it was cool that I took a different route instead of getting a computer science degree, did well on the interviews, and got to the same place in the end. I really appreciate that; Google seems like a really accepting company and my team is amazing.
What are you working on now at Google? Do you use what you learned at Codesmith?
Andie (Full-Time): I’m working on a product called Looker, which is a business intelligence platform in Google Cloud. I’m still pretty new – I started a couple of months ago.
There are some technologies we use at Google that I got to dive deep into at Codesmith, but we use different technologies too. I think I was prepared enough to be able to learn new technologies, and that’s just how software engineering is. It doesn’t matter what company you work for, your life is going to be about learning.
Lanre, how did you land your Senior Software Engineer role at Exodus Movement? What are you working on now?
Lanre (Part-Time): I’d say a lot of things played into that. Obviously, I have some experience, but Codesmith, in addition to my role as a Codesmith Fellow, played a large role in making me an autonomous problem solver.
When you interview, the way you talk and engage with your take-home assessment will help you come off a certain way. As I mentioned before, my goal at Codesmith was to become an expert and one of the things I wanted to be able to do was technically communicate.
Communicating when you go to the interview, taking the assessment, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s as you would in a work environment, will let the interviewers know that this is the person they’re looking to hire as a Senior Software Engineer. All of these are things I was practicing as an engineer in Codesmith after my residency as an Engineering Fellow and they played a huge role.
What are you working on at Exodus Movement?
Lanre (Part-Time): I’m currently on the core services team developing the backend service for mobile and web. We work on client-facing applications for customer support, customer requests, trucking, and things like that. I’m using everything I learned at Codesmith – it’s the exact same tech stack at Exodus! I think I’m off to a good start.
Was Codesmith worth it for each of you?
Andie (Full-Time): Yes! Job satisfaction is a huge thing for me and I'm much happier working in tech. As I said before, I think of salary as a bonus. But yes, I’m making more money than I did before and I'm happier in general.
Lanre (Part-Time): Obviously, my answer is yes! I’m working in a U.S. company while living in Lagos, Nigeria. For me, that’s so cool! My answer to that question is all-caps – YES. When I was going to get a job offer, eventually I had multiple offers to choose from. It’s so good to see your hard work and time pay off.
I was contacted by companies who really liked my final production project and even though I couldn’t join because of immigration concerns, it feels so good to see those companies reach out and appreciate what you built. I just want to thank Codesmith and my family as well who made it possible and easy for me.
Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!
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