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Text that reads Codesmith Resident Q&A: Coding and Connecting at the New York Onsite Immersive with a picture of Codesmith resident Nancy

Codesmith Resident Q&A: Coding and Connecting at the New York Onsite Immersive

You might remember Nancy from our recent Onsite v. Remote Day in the Life blog! In this Q&A from Nancy's junior portion of the Immersive, Nancy offers advice to aspiring residents preparing for the Immersive, discusses how she connects with her cohort mates at the New York Onsite Immersive, and explains her favorite coding project in the first half of the Immersive.

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

I graduated college about six months prior to joining Codesmith with a B.A. in Adolescent Education & History. Prior to graduation, I was feeling extreme anxiety about my future prospects. I was no longer passionate about the field I had majored in and did not want to pursue it further. Reflecting on my college experience, one class I had really enjoyed taking was an Introduction to Computer Science course. Through hearing success stories from friends and acquaintances, as well as conducting my own research, I decided that a coding immersive was the best course of action. 

While exploring the various options available, I stumbled upon Codesmith and found their online resources, CSX, and the free workshops to be incredibly informative and well-structured. This convinced me to join CS Prep and to become more active on the CSX Slack channels. Through this, I fell in love with the Codesmith community and everyone’s willingness to help one another. I knew that this would be an amazing place to continue growing and learning and eventually emerge as a full-stack software engineer.

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

Learning coding was exhilarating and the feeling of excitement I felt pushed me to continue steering myself towards making a career change. Codesmith stood out to me in terms of how easily accessible their public educational resources were, their academic rigor, and how welcoming the community was. 

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?

The first time I participated in pair programming was with Codesmith. I have grown as a team member and mentor since my first pair programming session in terms of technical communication and understanding other engineers’ approaches. My advice to those who are nervous about joining a pair programming session is to just go for it! Everyone I have met has been so intelligent, kind, and willing to share their knowledge. Additionally, the Codesmith experience is very collaborative and a pair programming session will give you insight into what you can expect day to day during the Immersive. 

What resources did you use to prepare for Codesmith? 

I mostly relied on CSX, the workshops, CS Bin, and CS Prep to help me prepare for the program. As I was working through CSX, I decided to join CSPrep and found it to be a really enjoyable experience. I also highly recommend joining the CSX Slack channel and reaching out to members for advice, pair programming, and mock interviews! 

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

To prepare for the technical interview, I recommend going through all the problems in CSX and CS Bin. As you do them, I suggest speaking out loud to practice your technical communication and to familiarize yourself with all the new terminology that you are learning. After being admitted to the Immersive, my tip would be to familiarize yourself with basic HTML/CSS and DOM Manipulation. I also wish I had continued grinding data structures and algorithms, as that is a major aspect of most technical interviews following your time at Codesmith. 

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

The solo project was overwhelming at first, as it was the first major project we had after the core curriculum. Starting everything from scratch and making use of all the technologies we had learned in the first few weeks was exciting, but also scary. It solidified my understanding and gave me insight into how much I had learned throughout my time so far. It also taught me a lot about working under the pressure of an upcoming deadline. 

The scratch project was our first team project and the main difficulty was adjusting to working as a team. Prior to this, we had all only worked as pairs or solo, so it was a very different experience. This gave us our first taste of what to expect within a professional workplace. The iteration project went smoother, as it was our second team experience but also presented a new challenge, in terms of working with a codebase we had no part in creating. This also mirrored what we can expect when we join a company as engineers and gave us practice in reading and understanding other people's code. 

Tell us about a day in your life as a New York City Onsite Immersive Resident? 

As I live in Brooklyn, my day usually begins with a 45 minute commute which I take as a time to chill and listen to music. Throughout the first few weeks at Codesmith, we had a very structured schedule (which I enjoyed). As we enter the project phase, staying focused is more about holding yourself and your team members accountable and checking up on one another. When I feel overwhelmed, I've found that it is very easy to pull another cohort mate aside and just talk about life. I also really enjoy lunch time due to the great food options nearby (personal favorite for quick to-go meals is Woorijip) and the communal table in the kitchen has led to great conversations. Another great way to destress is to go for a coffee break. 

Coding activities have helped me connect with my cohort mates and instructors through learning from one another and developing an admiration for others and their depth of knowledge. Non-coding activities, such as grabbing lunch together, taking the train home together, the Thursday night socials, and hanging out a bit afterwards on Saturdays, have also helped me connect with everyone. I have found that every single person at Codesmith is insanely cool and interesting to talk to, which has further motivated me to develop not just as a software engineer, but as a person.

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

My favorite part of the program in my junior portion has been the Iteration Project. It was really fun taking a project another team had started and building on top of it. The cohort and community are very welcoming, and connections have been formed through our collective blood, sweat, and tears.  It has also been very easy getting to know everyone, especially during the official Thursday night socials and unofficial Saturday night socials. In terms of mentorship, I was blessed to have two mentors, who were very warm and open to giving advice.