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Image of Codesmith resident with text that reads, Codesmith Resident Q&A From Medical Aspirations to Coding Solutions, Finding Community at Codesmith

Codesmith Resident Q&A: From Medical Aspirations to Coding Solutions, Finding Community at Codesmith

At Codesmith, we see residents of all backgrounds in our Software Engineering Immersive – from computer science graduates and junior developers looking to upskill to career changers looking to make a transition to tech. 

Codesmith Central Time Remote Immersive resident Cindy shares how and why she is transitioning from the medical field to software engineering with Codesmith, and discusses her experience in the junior portion of the immersive.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What were you doing before Codesmith, and what led you to Codesmith?

I am currently living in Boston with my partner and our cat, Maggie. I graduated from Harvard College with a degree in neurobiology and worked as a health policy and survey researcher at a hospital before starting Codesmith. I first heard about Codesmith from a mutual friend and started doing my own research online. I was initially drawn by Codesmith’s excellent hiring outcomes and decided to attend CS Prep to get a glimpse of what attending Codesmith would be like. 

What inspired you to take your career in this direction, and what made Codesmith stand out from other coding schools you considered?

I had planned to attend medical school but became more interested in programming during the pandemic. While it was nerve-wracking to switch careers and start a new journey, I have found a lot of support from my fellow residents and Codesmith instructors. I was initially drawn by Codesmith’s rigorous curriculum and “hard learning” approach, but was completely sold by the community I had found. This emphasis on camaraderie made Codesmith stand out from other programs. My fellow residents and I are always willing to help one another, which has definitely made learning programming a lot easier! We offer one another emotional support when needed, assist with debugging, help explain concepts, and study together. 

What role did pair programming play in your journey to Codesmith? What advice would you give to someone who is nervous about joining a pair programming session?

I did my first pair programming session during CS Prep. I worked through challenges with my partner, switching between the “driver” and the “navigator” roles. The “driver” writes out the code while the “navigator” provides instructions and articulates the strategy to solve the problem. The concept of pair programming was completely foreign to me when I first started. However, as I continued pair programming, I realized that it not only strengthened my technical and non-technical communication skills but also my understanding of the material. Being able to articulate each line of code and explain its purpose has definitely improved my programming skills! For anyone who is nervous about joining a pair programming session, I would recommend just going for it! It might be uncomfortable and rocky at first, but you will gradually get into the groove of pair programming and will see its value.

What resources did you use to prepare for Codesmith? 

I prepared for Codesmith’s technical interview by doing problems on CSX and CS Bin several times. I also highly recommend attending CS Prep, which accelerated my learning and reinforced core concepts of programming, including callbacks, closure, object-oriented programming, and algorithms. 

What are your tips on how to prepare for the technical interview and how to prepare to succeed in the junior portion of the immersive?

I highly recommend practicing problems while communicating your thoughts aloud. This can be strange at first, but it really improved my technical communication skills. I would treat each problem as if I were solving it during a technical interview. I would also recommend connecting with applicants and alumni on Codesmith’s CSX Slack channel. I really enjoyed the community aspect and had greatly benefitted from mock interviews offered there. After I found out I was admitted to Codesmith, I paid it forward and helped others prepare for the technical interview.

To prepare for the junior portion of the immersive program, I highly recommend completing the pre-course material and gaining a basic understanding of technologies you will be learning. While I did not completely understand the concepts while self-studying and watching Youtube tutorials, I found it extremely helpful to “prime” my brain before diving deep into the concepts during lectures.

What has your experience been working on projects in the junior portion of the immersive?

I have really enjoyed working on projects and applying a lot of the concepts I have learned earlier in prior classes. Working on the various projects has definitely filled in some knowledge gaps and improved my debugging skills. For our scratch project, my team built ChefGPT, an application that allows users to drag ingredients to their bowl and generate a new recipe by making API requests. I had a great time and learned a lot from my teammates. 

Tell us about a day in your life as a remote Codesmith resident?

I have my laptop and external monitor for my home office set-up. I haven’t used a second screen prior to starting Codesmith but I highly recommend it since it makes watching lectures, taking notes, and coding a lot easier. Otherwise, there would be too many tabs on one screen! During the junior portion, your days are already structured from lectures in the morning and unit challenges in the afternoon and evening. For me, prioritizing rest and being present during class hours has helped me stay focused. We also have social hours every Thursday night so it is fun to hang out with fellow residents!

What has been your favorite part of the immersive thus far as a junior? 

I know this is cheesy but my favorite part of the program has honestly been the community. I really enjoy the camaraderie of my cohort, which has not only accelerated my learning but also made the long days at Codesmith a lot easier. Interestingly, I met one of my Engineering Fellows, Ruqayaah, a few months prior on Codesmith’s CSX channel who offered a mock interview to prepare for Codesmith’s technical interview. Since then, she has been extremely supportive and helpful during our check-ins, approach lectures, and interactions at the help-desk. Honestly, I have great things to say about every instructor and fellow I have met at Codesmith thus far.