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Veteran's Journey of Becoming a Software Engineer

Are you about to get out of the military? Do you want to shift your career to a software engineer? Are you planning to go to coding school in the next few months? Are you looking for a coding school that can help you boost up, so you can be a software engineer? Are you studying coding, but you want to find great leadership and a community? Here I am introducing my journey at Codesmith. If you are in similar shoes to me, please read below my post.

Let me briefly introduce myself. I served for about 5 years as a logistics manager (a.k.a Supply Sergeant). While in the Army, I had a great desire to become a software engineer. I saw how technology could change our lives with the software called Global Combat Support System (GCSS). It’s a software connecting all of the military tasks that were divided into one (if you were in the army, this is a software you use day to day). Compared to the previous software, Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) system, the property in the unit became more organized and trackable. Using GCSS made budgeting and inventory more precise. It not only changed soldiers’ lives but also the entire organization using the new software. This system inspired me to get into the software engineering field.

In the beginning, I looked for coding schools using Veterans Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC). VET TEC is for veterans who want to gain computer experience to start or advance careers in the high technology industry. I did technical interviews with some coding schools and got accepted before I got separated from the army. However, the budget for VET TEC ran out. I had to wait until a new fiscal year to start school. I was frustrated, but instead of staying frustrated, I started to talk to lots of my friends working in the software engineering field. One of my friends mentioned Codesmith and I am glad that I checked it out on their youtube channel. Everything changed from there with one click on the link. The concept I didn’t understand for the past 5 months clicked on my head in 40 minutes. That’s how I started my journey at Codesmith.

I doubted myself about the virtual environment due to COVID-19 in the beginning. I thought about waiting until the virus is over. I wanted to learn as much as possible, but I was not sure if a virtual environment would be suitable. However, I realized there is no difference at all on the first day of Codesmith. Even though everyone was not next to me, I still felt welcomed. Even though I felt imposter syndrome on the way, everyone cheered me up and helped me go through each unit. Even though I was able to see them through the computer, I never felt I was away from anyone since I was always pairing up with someone else to solve problems together.

“For the past 6 weeks, I grew up so much not just as a programmer but as a solid problem-solver. The core value you learn is hard learning.”

You are thrown into the environment where you get a high-level overview of the concept. For instance, you are trying to learn one of the technologies such as Javascript. Codesmith will teach you what Javascript is and a bit of explanation about how it works. You then are thrown into a difficult unit to solve problems with your partner. You will have to find answers thinking about how to solve it and discuss it with your partner. You are meant to hit blocks and break it. You will feel imposter syndrome a lot of times since your partner is sometimes better at solving problems. Before you even get used to one of the technologies, you start learning another technology. However, fellows and instructors always try to help you go in the right direction. You always get support from peers and seniors. It all sounds horrible, but the magic starts happening during the project phase.


During those project phases, I built 3 different web applications. The first one was a solo project. I was scared that I wasn’t able to implement anything. However, everything was in my head. It was not the knowledge that was in my head, but the problem-solving skills. I remembered how I hit blocks and solved it. Each problem-solving skill built for the last 6 weeks made me a solid problem solver. I was able to figure out how to break those blocks. I even dived into another technology that Codesmith never taught me. I applied the same principle and it worked out. Building the first cool project on my own was the most rewarding thing ever. The second project and the third project was with other classmates as a team of 4 or 5. I was able to experience how software engineers work at the company. I learned how important Git is to work as a group.

Now I am in ideation week. I am still hitting blocks every day as usual. I feel imposter syndrome every day. However, I became a solid problem solver. I am used to hitting blocks and finding ways to break blocks. If you are about to get out of the army and considering becoming a software engineer, Codesmith is the place.

Blog written by Minchan J., Codesmith NY Cohort 20


Based on CDC recommendations & COVID-19 forecasting, Codesmith's Onsite Full-Time Software Engineering Immersive programs have been conducted remotely since March 2020. See the schedule of upcoming cohorts here.

Check out this blog where our NYC Software Engineering Immersive grad Sophie shares her experience of working as a developer at a company that develops software for first responders.