Software Engineer • Engineering Immersion • Online
May 19, 2021
In 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns, I decided it was time for a career change. Having spent the past 9 years as a truck driver, I wanted a chance to learn and grow in a new field, and after some research through CareerKarma, CourseReport, and various other resources, I decided that Thinkful offered me the best chance to make a real change in my life. For my situation, the Income Sharing Agreement with Living Stipend was my best opportunity - the extra monthly income would help m...
In 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns, I decided it was time for a career change. Having spent the past 9 years as a truck driver, I wanted a chance to learn and grow in a new field, and after some research through CareerKarma, CourseReport, and various other resources, I decided that Thinkful offered me the best chance to make a real change in my life. For my situation, the Income Sharing Agreement with Living Stipend was my best opportunity - the extra monthly income would help make sure my expenses were covered and I could dedicate myself to the program! It will ultimately be more expensive for me, but it was a trade-off I was willing to make to launch a new career. If you can afford to pay up front, that's the best way to do it, but know that there are plenty of financing options available.
Thinkful offers a free Prep Course for Engineering Immersion students, and I highly encourage anyone interested in the program to work through it on their own with as little outside help as possible. Use Google or other resources to do your own research and hold off on asking for help in Slack as much as you can. Slack is a great resource and there are plenty of people who want to help you understand things, but I have seen people run in to real problems when they ask for help and a person attempting to be helpful simply gives them the answer without helping the student understand it. Don't fall in to that trap and never take an answer and move on without understanding it!
During the course, you will be paired with an Academic Success Manager (ASM) and a Mentor. When I was enrolled, we had two weekly meetings with our mentors, though I have heard that has since been changed to once weekly, which I think is a good move - I did fairly well in the program and relied more on my fellow students than my mentor, so often times, twice a week was a bit too much and we didn't have anything to talk about. Still, your mentor will be available via e-mail, and I'd encourage students to interact with them as much as you need, as they're usually pretty motivated to help. Your ASM is there to help with broader issues, such as finances, keeping on schedule, problems with the course or other people, etc., and you should hopefully not need to speak to them much, but they are available when you need them and check in on you throughout the course.
The course its self is not easy. You're going from the foundations of the prep course, to building full-stack web apps within just a few weeks, and the pace can be very tough for those who aren't dedicating their full attention to their success with Thinkful! Don't make the mistake of going in to the program, especially if you opt for an Immersion program, thinking that you're going to learn everything you need to know by only making the minimum commitment to the course! The 7-8 hours you're officially committing to the course every day will teach you important skills, but to really solidify those skills, exceptional students will spend at least a couple hours after the end of Thinkful's day working to understand things better. It's incredibly easy to fall behind. A day here or there adds up quickly when the pace is this quick.
Be friendly and communicative with your fellow students early and often. Find friends, form study groups both for working on the course and blowing off steam (with conversation and even gaming) in your downtime. I made important, lasting friendships by doing this when I went through the course, and I couldn't have done it without their help and support - and they couldn't have done it without mine. We all uplifted each other and when one of us fell behind, the rest of us rallied to get them up to speed. But more importantly, your fellow students will probably be the first members of your professional network! A direct reference from one of my fellow students is what got me the job I have today.
The careers team will work with you essentially to your own preferences, whether you prefer to do things in a more freeform and unscheduled manner like myself, or stick to a long-term plan for job seeking, but it's hard to argue with the results: I was employed inside of 90 days after completing the program. Looking for that first job can be hard, but if you utilize all of your resources, don't lose hope, and work as hard to find that job as you did to complete the course, and you will succeed! You will get rejected and ignored countless times, but start each day fresh and keep looking. You will find the right place to work if you persist.
Overall, while I feel like things could have been smoother in some spots, I feel like Thinkful did a good job of preparing me to be employed as a developer. What you get out of Thinkful is directly proportional to the effort you put in to the program and the job search, so approach it prepared to work hard and truly understand the material. It is easy to fall behind, but building a network of support amongst your fellow students can help you overcome that. The most important thing you'll gain out of Thinkful isn't necessarily how to code, but how to learn to code. Take that from the experience, be ready and eager to learn on your first job, and you will be successful.