After college, Hinesh found himself in a technical support role, and discovered a passion for software development. He decided to pursue programming full time and attended Rithm School coding bootcamp in San Francisco on a friend’s recommendation. After 16 weeks of bootcamp study, a real-world project with Course Report, and two months of job seeking, Hinesh is “incredibly happy” to be a software engineer at Google! He explains his Google interview process, and how the skills he gained from Rithm School help him learn new technologies on the job!
What’s your background and how did you end up at Rithm School?
I hadn’t planned to go into software engineering. For a long time, I actually wanted to be a doctor. I liked engineering, and competed in math competitions in high school. I combined my interests and studied biomedical engineering, with a plan to go on to medical school.
During my gap year between college and medical school, I worked as a Technical Services Analyst at Epic Systems, a medical software company, helping clients troubleshoot their issues and doing a few small development projects. After that year, I decided to stay in software instead of going to medical school. It was a tough choice, but I think it was the right one.
I worked at Epic Systems for another two years and loved the software development part of my job. I started weighing my options – do I go back to school, do I take a bootcamp (which I had heard about from a friend), or do I teach myself how to code? I decided a bootcamp was the way to go to become a software engineer so I picked Rithm School.
Why did you pick Rithm’s coding bootcamp specifically? Did you consider other options?
How did you pay for your bootcamp?
During my time at Epic Systems, I saved up a pretty substantial amount of money so I was able to pay for Rithm using my savings.
What was the Rithm application and interview process like?
The application involved filling out a form with information about myself and my background, followed by a technical interview with one of the founders. A lot of my classmates went to the campus to do the interview on a whiteboard, but since I was located in Madison, WI, and Rithm is in San Francisco, I did mine over video call. We did a code share, where the interviewer posted a problem in a code share document, and I talked about my process, how I would solve the problem, and then wrote up a solution. During the interview itself, they taught me ways to improve my code – it was neat to get that feedback at that stage. After the interview, I got an offer to join Rithm School.
Who were the other students in your bootcamp cohort?
My cohort was about 14 people. The small size was great because we all got to know each other. The ages ranged from recent college grads to people in their late 30s with a couple of kids. Our cohort only had one woman, but I think that was atypical because other Rithm cohorts were 50% women. We came from all sorts of backgrounds – some people had worked in finance, one person was a project manager, there were two teachers, and one person had worked at Dreamworks as a visual effects artist. Some people had STEM education and some didn’t. During group projects and pair programming, we heard different opinions and ideas from people with different backgrounds.
Describe the learning experience at Rithm – what was a typical day like?
Rithm took a lot of care in developing the curriculum. For the first few weeks, we would have a morning lecture with slides to go over a new concept and then we’d go to the lab for paired programming exercises to reinforce the concepts. After lunch, we’d have another lecture and more reinforcement exercises.
It also varied from week to week. During the React module, we had to learn all the basics in the mornings and afternoons, with smaller exercises to get the foundations. Eventually, we worked up to a morning lecture, followed by partnering up to build a full scale application over three days, to reinforce everything we’d learned in that framework up to that point.
We had two main instructors, had access to the two instructors in the other class, and a recent grad served as a lab TA. The instruction quality was great and they were all very experienced. One instructor had been coding for 20 years and had tons of industry experience. During lab, the instructors were available for questions and provided feedback on your progress, what you could improve, and other tactics you could consider. They also did code reviews, sharing best practices and industry standards to improve your code and make it more efficient and readable.
What was your favorite coding project at Rithm?
We built a mock application from the ground up called Jobly where you can search for companies and apply to job postings. We built the backend API during our Node Express module and during the following React module, we built the front end that worked with the API. We got to build the entire application from front end to back end to databases. We also did complex things like full user authentication authorization flows – the complexity and scope of the project was significant, so I really enjoyed it.
Tell us about your final project with us at Course Report! What was it like to work on a real-world project?
Rithm’s unique real-world project experience requirement was another reason I was drawn to the bootcamp. There were six of us on the Course Report team and one of the biggest projects was building a minimum viable product (MVP) for a mobile app – it was awesome to build something from scratch. It was difficult to jump into a new backend (Rails), but with the help of instructors, we were able to search through our code on a larger scale than we originally had for our mock apps. We had to figure out how everything interacts, the changes you need to make, and the challenges due to the scale. We worked with a lot of new technologies and had the freedom to do what we wanted. We had never worked in React Native or built a mobile application, and we had an opportunity to work with Redis, a new database for us.
After Rithm, that real-world project was a big part of my job search. Being able to talk about my real-world experience was something employers wanted to see.
How else did Rithm prepare you for the job hunt?
After that project, we had the final 3 weeks of the Rithm curriculum called Outcomes. The instructors lectured us on job hunt strategies like doing reverse recruiting, applying effectively for jobs, how to phrase emails, different ways of applying, and referrals. On top of that, we had a week of data structures and algorithms practice to prepare us with computer science skills to use in technical interviews where we would need to write algorithms out on a whiteboard.
We also had support after we graduated. On Fridays, Rithm holds office hours for alumni where you can ask any question on the job search. Job searches can be emotionally difficult so it was great to be able to go back to Rithm and be with the other people from the cohort who were all in the same boat. The instructors were also there to help. It was the support I needed after I graduated and it would have been more difficult if I had completely lost touch with Rithm.
Congrats on landing a job at Google! How did that come about and what was the interview process like?
Google’s interview process is pretty difficult – I was able to get a referral from someone I know but I also needed to send in an application. I went through a lot of interviews including a phone screening and an on-site interview with a few different technical problems to solve – they based your hiring on your ability to problem solve, and had more emphasis on the data structures and algorithms versus some other companies. It was a lot of white boarding!
I was definitely hoping for a job at a company like Google, but my main goal was just to get a job in software development and then figure out exactly what I wanted to do from there. Software development is so broad, you don’t necessarily know where you want to start, but once you start working, you’ll figure out what aspects you really like after you break into the industry. I got lucky because working at Google has been my dream job and I’m incredibly happy to be here. It was what I was shooting and hoping for, not knowing how much of a longshot it was, but here I am!
What’s your role and are you using the programming languages you learned at Rithm?
How has your background as a Technical Services Analyst helped you in your new career path?
It didn’t necessarily help me with software development, but it helps me work with clients and other people. I think my communication skills and working with others to solve problems has improved because of that role. I’ve also benefited from my problem solving and critical thinking skills, because I had to look into problems clients reported, which carries over to solving problems with software development. I’ve always naturally been a problem solver and I enjoy it a lot.
What’s been your biggest challenge or roadblock in becoming a software developer?
Rithm was great, but after the bootcamp the job hunt was the hardest part for me. It took a few weeks for me to get some traction and two months to get an actual offer – a lot of jobs are looking for people with more experience, so it was a bit frustrating at times when you’re starting into a new career. I’m glad that Google is open to diversity – they looked past the fact that I don’t have a CS degree, saw my potential in developing software, and gave me a chance.
How are you staying involved in Rithm School and the other grads?
A lot of us play in a soccer league, so I see my classmates every Saturday. Rithm also hosts alumni happy hours to catch up with each other and the school. It’s great to stay in touch with them even after you’re done with the bootcamp.
What advice do you have for others who are considering a career change with a bootcamp like Rithm?
If you’re unhappy with what you’re doing and are thinking of software development, definitely dip your toe into it. I did the Hack Reactor prep course – do a few small coding projects to ensure you’re interested in it. If you find you like it, it’s definitely possible! A lot of people are able to make this switch because tech is so big. Bootcamps are great options for making the change quickly and it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – just go for it!