Student Success Stories: How I went from a Barista to Software Engineer in 1 year 

Learning coding to secure a tech job can be intimidating. That’s why we share our student success stories. They demonstrate how anyone can start a learning journey and pursue a fulfilling work life. 

Today’s story is from John, one of our students who went from a barista to software engineer in just 1 year.

Why John chose to learn to code 

“During my younger years, I had a deep passion for going online, playing games, and using computers. However, it wasn’t until college that I consciously decided to delve into the world of coding. Throughout my college journey, I explored various jobs like barista, sales and marketing, but none of them resonated with me on a deeper level. 

Despite having a degree in Marketing, I experienced a pivotal moment of self-reflection where I realized that it wasn’t the path I truly desired. This realization led me to consider a different path, and that’s when I decided to embark on a coding journey.”

How John managed his schedule to learn coding 

“I made it a habit to dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes every day to coding. Rather than obsessing over the quantity, I prioritized consistency. If I couldn’t manage four or five hours a day, I wouldn’t let it discourage me. Instead, I focused on smaller increments, like an hour or even just 30 minutes, knowing that it was sufficient for my progress. Since I’m more inclined to stay up late, I primarily devoted this time to coding after work.”

How John found job opportunities

“As I explored job opportunities on platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn, I noticed that most of the available positions were focused on Software Engineering, particularly those involving React, which was highly sought after. With this realization, I dedicated an entire month solely to mastering React. 

During this period, I completed around 10-15 React projects, experiencing significant progress. I gained a deeper understanding of the concepts and found myself relying less on constant research. It was at that moment when I decided to take the leap and start applying for positions.

However, reality proved to be less like a fairytale. Despite submitting applications to around 50 different places, I received no callbacks. I felt drained, disheartened, and defeated. There were moments when I questioned whether I was cut out to be a Software Engineer. Yet, I reminded myself to stay positive and resilient, understanding that sometimes life takes unexpected turns. I firmly believed in the power of manifesting one’s desires.

Eventually, I received a callback for a role I had applied for on LinkedIn. A member of their team reached out to me for an interview. Although I didn’t secure that particular position after the second interview, they surprised me by mentioning another role that would be a better fit for my skills. With newfound hope, I applied for that job and, to my delight, I was offered the position.

This experience served as a valuable reminder that setbacks and rejections are inherent to the journey toward success. It reinforced the importance of maintaining resilience and a positive mindset. 

Often, the world has a way of guiding us toward the right path, even if it diverges from our initial expectations. By persevering, staying open to opportunities, and trusting in our abilities, we can navigate through obstacles and ultimately discover fulfillment in unexpected places.”

How John successfully passed the Interview 

“The interview process left a lasting impression on me. In the initial interview call, the focus was primarily on behavioral questions, such as how I would approach certain scenarios and the steps I would take to tackle specific challenges. 

The second interview, on the other hand, involved a coding assessment. Prior to the interview, we were given a pre-assignment that required us to work with a provided database. Our task was to leverage this data to develop a web application, encompassing various aspects such as front-end development, back-end implementation, and data management, all within the React framework. 

It was a comprehensive exercise that encompassed the entire process.”

How John choose the right offer 

“The connection I felt with the product owner and lead developer was incredible. They had a great vibe, just like me—friendly, sociable, and full of clever jokes. It didn’t feel like a typical job interview; it felt like chatting with a group of guys who shared my aspirations. 

Curious about the team dynamics, I requested to speak with their other developers to get a sense of the environment and to let them know more about myself. When I walked in on my first day, I knew I had found my place. The team’s welcoming nature and positive energy confirmed that I had made the right decision.”

What to take note before learning  

I’ve come to recognize the significant value of undertaking personal projects, and in hindsight, I wish I had dedicated more time to them—this realization only hit me last year. 

Watching YouTube tutorials or following online course instructions can be helpful, but there’s a marked difference between that and actually getting hands-on and building something yourself. To truly develop strong problem-solving skills, it’s crucial to immerse yourself in independent work. 

While I do have a few solo projects that I take pride in, if I could go back in time, I would prioritize creating my own side projects to gain a deeper command of JavaScript, HTML and React.

Consistency ranks as the second most vital aspect. It’s not about coding for several hours and then taking extended breaks. Even if it’s just half an hour each day, that consistency matters. 

Allowing your subconscious mind to process the information during those off-work periods is equally important. By giving yourself that mental space, you enable a deeper assimilation of the knowledge you’ve acquired.

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