What I Built: A career change from banking to software engineering via Codesmith.

This is part of an ongoing series about the amazing products Codesmith grads have built during their time in the Immersive Program or in their roles as Software Engineers. 

Career changes are always far more achievable than people think – and they continue to remain a possibility, even as you accrue your experience in a certain sector (or sectors). 

Software engineering always welcomes people from a diversity of backgrounds and industries – in fact, that wider range of experience often makes you a better and more adaptable coder.

For David Behmoaras, those industries were property and investment banking. He studied software engineering at college and loved it, but his immediate post-graduation path took him to business school. 

From there, he spent a long time working in real estate and capital markets. But the coding bug was never far from the surface.

“It’s something that I always kept adjacent to what I was doing and in the back of my mind,” explains David. “Then the pandemic hit, and I had kinda got bored of finance. I didn’t really like my role anymore, so this offered me a chance to get back into something I really enjoyed,” he says.

Tech-driven solutions to well-known problems.

David had encountered a number of challenges during his jobs in real estate and finance that he felt technology could solve – and this frustration inspired him to go out and gain the skills required to create those solutions himself.

“That definitely guided a lot of what I was trying to get out of Codesmith,” David admits. “I was thinking ‘how do I connect what I was doing before, in banking and capital markets, with what I’m going to be doing now.”

By repeatedly running into inefficiencies in these industries, David realized that he needed to learn software engineering in order to build better, more efficient tools for doing business – and use technology to solve real-world problems.

“It was very much motivated by practicality, and the research I have done is very much focused on building practical knowledge,” David explains about his inspiration for going into coding, “Asking myself, ‘how do I create something that will be relevant and useful to someone’?

David ended up working for J.P. Morgan, building a tool that provides a similar service to what he used to do (much more manually) in his old day job – but the process is vastly simplified, thanks to his newfound software engineering expertise.

A perfect example of applying tech-enabled tools to solve real-world problems. Of course, David had to acquire this knowledge first – which is where Codesmith came in.

“The same quality teaching as business school.”

Doing some digging into coding school options, David found that the Codesmith ethos and approach really resonated with him – and he felt the Immersive program, with its clear objective of graduates securing a job afterwards, would help him to achieve his best results.

“There were lots of them [coding schools], but my guess was that the job placement and recruitment element at Codesmith would be of a higher caliber – and I think I was right,” explains David.

Having been to business school, David was accustomed to honing careers-focused skills such as constructing resumes, writing cover letters, presenting effectively at interviews, and building a network. But he found that Codesmith helped him to be even more adept at these essential elements in his job search.

“I got very similar coaching at business school, and it was a good school!” David exclaims. “The fact that Codesmith can match that level of teaching, condensed into a shorter time frame, is pretty amazing. It also costs a tenth of the price, so dollar for dollar it’s even better!” he laughs. 

Aside from the careers coaching, David found that the core content at Codesmith was taught effectively and efficiently too. Information was presented in a way that was accessible to everyone, so it was easier to understand and get to grips with.

“It was made accessible, and that’s critical – because it’s really not easy to pick up from scratch,” he remembers. “I had a leg up as I’d already studied software engineering. But the way Codesmith introduced key concepts meant that people who were less familiar with the subject could still build something meaningful out of it. That’s where Codesmith really stood out.”

Building tools and building confidence.

What did David learn from this teaching? His Codesmith experience was as much about building self-confidence and the attitudes required to succeed, as it was about accruing technical know-how (although there was a fair bit of that too, of course).

“Getting used to being out of your comfort zone is a big part of it,” David says. “The reason Codesmith pushes you so hard is so you can deal with the situation when things don’t work – the ‘it’s 24 hours before MVP and our whole build has just crashed’-type scenario. You need to take that same attitude into the job search, as we all mess up some interviews.”

David recalls when his software crashed whilst he was presenting during a job interview. Post-Codesmith David wasn’t flustered though – so he simply brushed it off and carried on. That ended up being the role that he got offered, and he has taken that newfound confidence and hunger for a challenge into his day-to-day work.

“In my job now, if I wasn’t used to the idea that I’d be running into stuff I couldn’t solve, I wouldn’t be able to contribute nearly as much as I do, ” David admits. “Even my boss’s boss doesn’t know the answer sometimes. You’ll always encounter struggles, and it pays to remember that, especially when you’re new.”

While at Codesmith, David built several tools with his cohort partners, often influenced by his previous career and solving real-world problems he had run into whilst working in banking and supply chains.

“We always had a problem with inventory management and not having access to real-time data,” David says. “So we built a tool that embedded into React to provide an app that fired events as the inventory changed, and updated data would appear on screen in real time.”

The team had a crucial question to address for this project, though. How would they achieve the real-time data feed with low latency, so the information shown was truly live and instant? 

“That was an interesting challenge,” David admits. “We ended up using Kafka, and that has now actually become a speciality of mine. So what I learned on that project has helped me to carve out my own niche as an engineer, and I think that’s important.”

David’s team also minted an NFT, more out of curiosity than anything else (“just because we wanted to see if we could!”), and quickly realized there wasn’t that much to it. Knocking down another mental barrier, and dispelling the myth of crypto in the process, bolstered David’s confidence even more.

“Codesmith made me realize that this stuff isn’t so unattainable. At the start, you think building an entire app from scratch is going to be super hard – by the end, you can do that in a couple of days. I’m now excited when I get a ticket that I have no idea how to solve. I’m still daunted sometimes, but I don’t let that paralyze me – I use it to drive me forward.”

Returning to an industry in a brand new role.

Equipped with his Codesmith experience, newfound determination, and a whole new skill set, David set out into the world of work. His job search proved fruitful after just a few attempts, with Codesmith fellows helping him to nail his interview approach.

“They did a really good job at getting on top of the hard questions I needed to prep for, and also helped me to make a decision on a role that I ended up loving,” David says. “Codesmith got me to take a leap of faith, and it paid off.”

David now works at J.P. Morgan, returning to finance but in a totally new capacity as a software engineer – finding his work far more interesting and fulfilling as a result. I’ve got into challenging myself, which has served me very well,” David concludes. “I work hard, but I guess it’s a good thing that I’m in a team that inspires that out of me, that I’m willing to put in the hours and produce more. That counts for something.

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