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Codesmith Career Change: From Speech Pathology to Software Engineering

Codesmith residents enter our Software Engineering Immersive programs from all types of professional and academic backgrounds. From real estate to music to marketing, our residents seek out Codesmith to make transformative career changes.

Codesmith Part-Time Remote Immersive resident Michelle L. is making the transition from the healthcare field as a speech pathologist to software engineering. Discover what led Michelle to pursue software engineering, and how she is juggling the part-time program with a full-time job and family obligations.

I’m not sure if everyone can share this experience, but I had a distinct, defining moment in my life where I knew I wanted to pursue software engineering. I was discussing careers with my friends in the French countryside, and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach when it was my turn to talk. Here I was, in the middle of a dream European vacation, yet I felt deeply unsettled. I realize now that I was longing for something that wasn’t mine yet – a career in something I was passionate about.

Looking back on that moment now, I am so incredibly grateful that it led me to finding Codesmith. Change can be scary, and as a risk-averse person, I wasn’t about to leave a stable job unless I found deep, lasting intrinsic motivation. During that discussion in France, two of my friends already working as software engineers talked about their own experiences in the tech industry. They talked about the joy of figuring out problems and implementing solutions, the wide range of job opportunities in tech, and the opportunity to work remotely. They concluded that while no perfect job exists, this career was well-suited for their curious, intellectual minds. 

I am currently a speech pathologist at a school district, and I provide services to children in underserved areas. I’ve been a speech pathologist for 6 years, and it is a fulfilling and meaningful career. But something had been nagging me over the last few years - I missed learning, problem-solving, and working closely with other motivated, curious people. I enjoy working in teams, developing close relationships with peers, and achieving a common goal.  These are the things that spark deep joy in me. My friends who are software engineers encouraged me to try self-learning first, and they predicted that I would enjoy the process. 

While I was motivated enough to do self-learning early on, I knew I wanted a community to learn with. The deepest bonds are forged when you share meaningful experiences with others, and you can go a lot farther with others than you can individually. I also wanted to meet others who had the same interests and ambitions as me.

All of my internet research led me to Codesmith. I fell in love with the CSX teaching style and the supportive community on Slack, and I knew I wanted to attend a remote immersive program. I enrolled for CS prep, and I remember being so nervous on my first day. What were the other people in my cohort going to be like? What was the instructor’s teaching style? It was intimidating being paired with more advanced engineers in pair programming sessions, and I was afraid that I would be exposed as the beginner that I knew I was. 

Once I embraced my imposter syndrome, I realized that it was okay to not know things in the beginning. We all have to start somewhere, and Codesmith Prep is a great place to start. Every single person in my cohort was friendly, warm, and willing to help at any time. My learning accelerated quite a bit in two weeks, and I became more confident in my coding capabilities and ability to technically communicate. I was able to get plenty of practice with technical communication, which was imperative to passing the Codesmith technical exam. I also bonded with cohort-mates, and those bonds have lasted beyond my time in Codesmith Prep. 

Image of Michelle smiling in front of two computers.

Michelle coding in the Part-Time Remote Immersive program.

Fast forward to today, and I am less than a week away from finishing the junior portion of the Part-Time Remote Immersive (PTRI) program. I am truly amazed at how much I have learned in the past 2.5 months. I’m even more amazed that I’ve somehow juggled a full-time job, PTRI, family obligations, and a social life. The most pleasant surprise is that I still look forward to class, even after the novelty of starting something new has worn off, and I’m a little (okay, a lot) more tired than I was prior to beginning the program. 

The PTRI community is tight-knit, full of spirited, generous, kind people, and I feel a sense of belonging after just 2.5 months. We help each other a lot during the units, as our peer-help Slack channel is super active. The program has been a lot of fun, with a lot of joking during lectures, sharing funny memes with each other, and commiserating when finishing a particularly hard unit (Redux, I’m looking at you!). Even the hard-learning has been fun - Codesmith emphasizes the concept of hard learning, meaning that students are expected to solve problems by looking up answers and reading docs instead of being given correct answers immediately. The satisfaction of seeing something rendered on your screen after being stuck on it for an hour (or many more!) is pretty incredible.

As the junior portion wraps up and I head into mid-portion, I know I will continue to have support when the stakes rise and we start building our own applications. It’s comforting to know that I’m sharing this experience with some wonderful people, and I can’t wait to see what we make.

Blog written by Michelle L., Codesmith Part-Time Remote Immersive Cohort 9.