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Cultivating Community through Code: Meet Michael - LA's New Lead Instructor!

At the heart of Codesmith is our Software Engineering Immersive program, which is designed to prepare residents for mid- to senior-level software engineering roles through a computer science and full stack JavaScript curriculum. Michael O’Halloran is our newest addition to the Instruction team, stepping into the Lead Instructor role for the Los Angeles Software Engineering Immersive.

Meet Michael, LA's new Lead Instructor!

We sat down with Michael for a Q&A to learn more about what inspires him to teach the next generation of coders, how he fosters a culture of learning and growth among residents, and his take on what sets Codesmith apart!

What sparked your interest in coding? What keeps you interested?

That’s nearly impossible to answer succinctly -- I have always had an interest in computers and technology in general. I used to build websites for the internet of the dial-up days as a little kid (shoutout to those learning HTML and basic JS on GeoCities and Homestead), and did a lot of work in IT/Tech Support and Technology Infrastructure. I have also always been fascinated by foreign languages and puzzles, so learning a way to communicate with computers to solve problems is truly just a next logical step with my interests.

I remain interested because there are so many different ways to solve problems, and so many possible avenues of application for coding skills. I’m blown away every day by our residents’ [how Codesmith refers to students] new ideas for how to approach.

What is your role as the Lead Instructor?

As Lead Instructor, I primarily give technical lectures, work on the Codesmith codebase, and give public workshops. Additionally, I oversee the LA instruction team - Lead Technical Mentors and Engineering Fellows alike - supporting them in driving forward residents' day-to-day learning as well as building upon their own software engineering goals. I also work closely with my Codesmith colleagues to ensure that our residents are receiving the highest caliber instruction, community engagement, and overall Codesmith experience possible.

What is the culture and sense of community like in the remote environment?

Simple! The culture is unmatched! Our admissions standards are the same as they’ve always been, so our residents are always great. However, the remote classroom environment does have a few benefits that in-person learning doesn’t have. First of all, it can’t be denied that being able to roll out of bed two minutes before class and be in lecture on time is great! But in all honesty, the remote environment enables us to work later and later into the night than we would be able to on campus. Of course, everyone needs to get the sleep they need and take care of their bodies, but I have definitely found myself hanging out wayyyy later than I normally would if we were in person and I needed to drive home. It’s also been great as we start to venture out from home more frequently to be able to meet up with people in person, and those hangouts are entirely leisure time, so it is fantastic! Plus, with relay races, the talent show, and game nights, we all spend so much time together having fun, that the culture is spectacular. All that said, I am so excited to be going back to in-person learning soon, being able to do all this fun work literally steps from the beach!

What is your favorite thing about Codesmith and teaching?

My favorite thing about Codesmith hands down is the people. There is something really incredible about the community here that is such a fantastic thing to be a part of. When it comes to teaching, I will never get tired of watching people grow from Intro to JavaScript workshops through Hard Parts, to passing their interview and getting a job - there is just nothing that can compare to watching someone completely change the course of their life!!

What makes Codesmith unique in the crowd of coding schools/bootcamps?

Unlike other bootcamps, Codesmith puts such a strong emphasis on culture and communication that it is an entirely different experience to other bootcamps. Of course we have better curriculum and overall academic and admissions standards than other bootcamps, but the emphasis on technical and non-technical communication here really makes the difference.

"It is an incredible feeling to be surrounded by folk who are just as focused on developing their empathetic engineering skills as much as their technical skills -- it makes for fantastic teams, an exemplary culture and network of software engineers, and an experience that you can truly only get here."


What advice would you give to people entering the Software Engineering field? Anything you wish you had known?

It is a great time to be in tech, because literally every company in the world is now a tech company. From fashion to the auto industry to mental health to super PACs to music to commerce, every company needs a website and technical applications. So with developer skills, you can work in literally any industry you want! But most importantly, I wish I had known that the only thing I have to worry about is giving up. As long as you keep your curiosity, a bit of positivity, and empathy for your colleagues, everything else will work itself out with a little time and a little hard work. We are so lucky to be part of an insanely interesting and yet insanely low-stakes field! At the end of the day, this is all just 1s and 0s, so keep your goals lofty and have fun on the way!

When do we get to meet you?

OMG you are always welcome to swing by our JavaScript the Hard Parts workshops, I lead them at least once a month on Thursdays! We love meeting folk of every level at public workshops, so make sure to drop by and say howdy (but be prepared to be called on -- we take audience participation seriously here!! LOL!)


The application for the next Full-Time Los Angeles Software Engineering cohort starting on September 13, 2021, is open! The deadline to submit applications is July 30th, but we always recommend our students to apply as soon as they can, as admissions operates on a rolling basis.

Start your application here.