“I needed options, and I needed them immediately.”
Covid-19 had wreaked havoc in some form on so many people, and I was no exception. And before I go any further, I want to acknowledge that I am incredibly lucky that, although things changed drastically for me, the overall health of my friends and family and myself were left unchanged and we were largely able to continue living quasi-status-quo after making the necessary covid-related adjustments. I was incredibly grateful then, and I still am now. But with gratitude being fully acknowledged, things were changing fast and I was wildly unprepared. Also, there will be a wildly liberal usage of parentheses for anecdotal statements (prepare yourself).
The job I had before covid (hereinafter referred to as b.c.) was a delightful, awe-inspiring, and creatively stimulating first job, perfect for a mid twenty-something who took a victory lap (or two) in college after changing majors his junior year from a STEM field into the fine arts. I had landed in an ideal space that allowed me to live in NYC, make new friends, travel the world, entertain clients, and even use my creative musical outlets on the job. I was ecstatic to be where I was and truthfully was blissfully ignorant to the “where do you want to be in 5 years” question I admittedly should have asked myself. Instead, I frolicked. Do I regret it? Nope. But that’s neither here nor there.
Once Covid hit and my job was eliminated, I quickly realized that thing that someone had mentioned a couple times here and there was now turning out to be true; A B.F.A in music technology was not the most employable degree out there. I spent months looking for a job that would not only pay the bills but that would also be mentally stimulating enough for me to work from home and not lose my mind. I applied for jobs that I didn’t really want for months to no avail (thank goodness?). Alas, I decided it was time to get serious and think about changing careers.
My parents had always, let’s say, “gently encouraged” me to stick with my first major in the STEM field as a fall back plan if my more ideal plans of working in the music industry for the rest of my life didn’t quite pan out (joke’s on them I got a whole year in before it didn’t quite pan out). I could hear their poignant yet somehow excited voices telling me that they told me so. The excitement in their voices came from me tossing out the idea of learning to code.
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Fast forward to this past June when I started CSX, I found that same feeling. Utter frustration for hours on end trying to get “JerryKramerGeorgeElaine” to print to the console with just one call to a function called “Jerry”, and then extreme elation for 10 minutes when I finally got it to work. Then, on to the next problem. It’s a silly process but it really is so rewarding to feel yourself struggle with and then ultimately surpass mental blocks.
So this continued for a few weeks while I naively thought that I would be able to join the next cohort that was starting at the end of July. I applied with a couple of weeks to spare; my friend had given me the advice to do so because then, if rejected, I would have time to re-apply before the deadline passed. I went through the essay portion and the nontechnical interview portion and was starting to get really excited! Everyone I had spoken with was very friendly and knowledgeable and shared with me pretty much any information I requested.
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Because of the timing of the available courses, it was clear that I would not be accepted into the cohort I had originally hoped for and that I would instead need to apply for the next one that started at the end of August. That gave me a little bit of time to work on my own and also complete the upcoming CS Prep course in time to apply for the next available NYC cohort (with some help from a gracious deadline extension for those enrolled in CS Prep at the time of the deadline).
So the way things worked out, I actually took my second technical interview only 3 days into the CS Prep course. Long story short, that was not enough time as I failed… again. That time it hurt. I had worked on the suggestions I was given and even enrolled myself in the CS Prep course knowing I would not get to complete it before the date of my next technical interview. I was pretty confused as to why I wasn’t in but they told me that I was close and that I should keep trying. So, after a mild existential breakdown regarding all of my life choices (funny how that one time I accidentally slapped a strange man’s butt as hard as I could when I was eight because I thought it was my dad suddenly became relevant to my brain but, here we are I guess?) I picked up the pieces and kept going.
I finished out the CS Prep course and applied one last time, knowing that if I didn’t get in, I would really have to consider if this was the right choice at all for me in the first place. Well, as you might have guessed, I got in! The excitement was unbelievable, I had succeeded in something that knew would have a vast impact on my future and my opportunities and now all there was left to do was finish (survive) the program. I knew that it would be hard but I was ready for it. I knew that challenges are where growth comes from and I knew that I needed to grow if I wanted to reach my goals of finding a stimulating and interesting career full of opportunities in a relatively short amount of time without going back to a university.
The journey continues as I write this post but I can say with confidence that the decision to join Codesmith was definitely one of the better life decisions I’ve made (much better than that one time I thought I could just skip my apparently mandatory eighth grade graduation rehearsal ceremony). Here’s to Codesmith and better decisions! (Don’t worry, they called me and I rode my bike to the school and made it just in the knick of time and I did go on to graduate from the eight grade 😎.)
Blog written by Cedric L., Codesmith NYC Cohort 21
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