Alumni Spotlight

From Medical Professional to Software Engineer after Codesmith

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Last updated on March 9, 2023

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While Li enjoyed the clinical side of her career as a dietician, she was burned out from managing the underpaid and overworked lifestyle of working in a hospital. Answering her lifelong interest in tech, Li sought an immersive, online coding school to prepare her to successfully change careers. Li shares her tips about how to prepare for Codesmith and what she wishes she knew before her first day of the immersive program. Plus, find out how Li has adapted to her new life as a remote Integration Engineer at Thomson-Reuters!

What inspired you to pivot from working as a dietician to working in tech?

I got tired of being a dietitian after a couple of years. Although I’m passionate about healthcare and clinical settings, it felt like I was repeating the same things every day. Plus, dietitians are chronically underpaid and overworked, so I was getting tired of the lifestyle. I’m young and have energy to learn more — I’ve always been interested in tech, but I didn't get to explore it in school. Now seemed like the time to try it. I also felt empowered by the women I saw succeeding in this field. I thought, If they can do it, I can, too!

There are so many coding bootcamps now — Why did you choose Codesmith?

At first, I considered pursuing another master’s degree in computer science, but I realized that a lot can happen in tech in 2-3 years. I didn’t think that another degree would prepare me for the real world in that length of time. So I started learning Python on Coursera to see if I liked coding. I began exploring coding bootcamps in January and first considered Hack Reactor because it’s one of the most popular ones. I found a study group and we all prepared for their April cohort using Hack Reactor’s JavaScript prep course. On Reddit, I heard about Codesmith and was really impressed with their job outcomes report and the free study resources like CSX and workshops. I decided I would prepare for both Hack Reactor and Codesmith, since they both had April cohorts and it seemed much harder to get into Codesmith.   

Codesmith does have a rigorous application process! How did you prepare for it? 

After completing Codesmith’s CSX JavaScript Learning Platform, I felt confident enough to take the technical interview. I talked to admissions and discussed my study plan. I was working my full-time job at the hospital plus a side job at nursing homes, so it was really hard to find time to study. My study method was practicing the questions on CSX again and again until I was able to code the solution without any error. I was lucky to pass the technical interview on my first try! Once I was accepted, I quit my jobs and committed to Codesmith full-time. 

What was a typical day like in the online, full-time bootcamp?

We started at 9AM with an hour-long warm-up called Hack Hour where we solved an algorithm problem and reviewed the day prior’s problem. We then had lectures and spent our own time working on skill-builders and the new unit, such as pair programming where we worked with other classmates on the homework for that unit. Sometimes in the afternoon, we’d have another lecture or time to talk about solutions with the TA. We also had a lot of fun activities like family dinners, hackathons, circles, social nights, tech talks, etc.

What did the Codesmith curriculum cover?

For the front end, we learned JavaScript, React, Redux, HTML, and CSS. For the back end, we learned Node.js and Express.js. We also learned SQL and noSQL databases. The last part of the bootcamp included lectures on DevOps and more

What did you build for your capstone project? 

For our group’s Open Source Product (OSP), we iterated on Spearmint, which is a developer tool for multiple frameworks to auto-generate testing suites. We presented our final products to our cohort and instructors at the end of the bootcamp. 

How did Codesmith prepare you for the job hunt

In the last month of the immersive, the career support team got in touch with each student to help us start building our resumes. We used a resume template after each project we built, describing the technologies we used and why we used them. The career support team would review our drafts, add to them, and offer feedback. I'm not good at writing, so that process felt more painful and stressful than learning how to code! 

The last part of the curriculum at Codesmith covers lectures on interview best practices and practicing mock interviews. As I was applying to jobs, I kept practicing algorithm problems and preparing myself with common interview questions. Overall, I was grateful for the support I received from Codesmith Career Support. 

Does Codesmtih continue to offer career support after you’ve graduated?

Yes! I can still contact the career support team at any time as an alumni — for life! 

Which tech roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from Codesmith?

I felt qualified to apply for roles like software engineer, full stack engineer, front end developer, and back end developer. 

Did you consider working in tech within the medical industry since your background was in medicine? 

Yes! And I eventually want to get into a company that combines healthcare and cutting-edge technology. When I started looking for my first tech job, I found that the healthcare and tech industries are so different. At times, it was challenging to incorporate both experiences when I started looking for jobs.

Once people realize I was a dietitian, my new tech coworkers always ask me questions about food and diet! It reminds me of why I first liked being a dietitian. I still miss seeing the clinical side of things, so eventually I’d like to get a job in healthcare that aligns more with my passions.

You’re now an Integration Engineer at Thomson-Reuters! Was Thomson-Reuters interested in your coding bootcamp experience?

I applied for this job on LinkedIn, and the hiring manager was impressed with my career change and coding bootcamp experience. 

What's the difference between an integration engineer and a software engineer?

An integration engineer is a type of software engineer, but as an integration engineer, I use different tools than a software engineer. My work is focused on API integration to user customized tools. 

Thomson-Reuters is a big company — Which team do you work on now? 

I work in the tax and accounting services department. Our products help tax accounting firms.

What has it been like adapting to your new tech work environment?

As a career changer, adapting to a new working environment than what I was used to in a clinical hospital was an added challenge. My new tech job is fully remote and my team is mostly based on the East Coast. At first, I thought I had to ask when to take lunch like I would when working at a hospital — I didn’t realize the schedule is so much looser when you’re working as a remote engineer!

At this point in your new tech career, was Codesmith worth it for you? 

Yes, it helped me transition into the tech industry. Codesmith helped me get a job as an Integration Engineer during a difficult hiring time, and this experience is helping me build my resume. Moreover, I got support from the alumni community and made good friends from Codesmith.

When you compare your former medical career to your new tech career, are you happy that you made the switch?

Definitely! The salary I’m earning now is higher than what I was making in a clinical hospital. 

As an engineer, remote work offers great flexibility in my time and schedule. In the hospital, it was impossible to get time off. Now I can take a break to run to the grocery store or make it to an appointment easily. I started my engineer job right after Thanksgiving and they still gave me holidays and 2.5 PTO days!

Would you recommend this career path to other medical professionals?

If anyone is looking for other opportunities, I highly recommend trying it out. I knew that if I couldn’t find a tech job after this bootcamp, I could always fall back on being a dietitian. 

What is your advice for incoming Codesmith students on making the most of the bootcamp experience?

Taking the time to prepare before applying to Codesmith will give you a better bootcamp experience. I only prepared for four months before enrolling at Codesmith and I felt like I wouldn’t have had to catch up so much if I had more skills going in. Doing the pair programming workshops will help you pass the technical interview. I planned to have to take the technical interview three times but I got lucky in passing the first time, which let me quit my job earlier, too!

Find out more and read Codesmith reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Codesmith.

About The Author

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps. With a background in writing, teaching, and social media management, Jess plays a pivotal role in helping Course Report readers make informed decisions about their educational journey.

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