From a sound engineer who lost a job during the pandemic to a software developer.
Mack worked in live events as a sound engineer who managed teams of engineers and complex sound systems for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Kanye West. He enjoyed what he did but when the pandemic hit the world, he reconsidered his career choice.
Going through bootcamp has landed him a job as a software engineer after a month searching for jobs.
Here’s how Mack did it.
Please introduce yourself
Hello! I’m a sound engineer turned software engineer living in the Bay Area just south of San Francisco. I lost my job at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and went through a year of discovery, teaching myself sound design and production for video games and podcasts, eventually starting a podcast of my own. I ultimately turned to coding and found a full-stack web development bootcamp (Rithm School) that gave me all the information I needed (technical and practical) to start a career as a Software Engineer. After only about a month of searching, I signed my offer to be a Software Engineer at Dovenmuehle Mortgage and start full time on March 22, 2021.
What was your background before learning to code?
Before learning to code I worked in live event / concert production (with a speciality in Audio). I majored in Music Industry with an emphasis on recording technology from the University of Southern California and ultimately found my niche in the live event world. My work was very technical and involved wearing many hats.
I’ve worked in stadiums and arenas and managed teams of engineers and complex sound systems for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, and many more. The events industry was very exciting and extremely challenging and I loved it. Well, most of it…
What got you interested in coding and how did you learn to code?
As much as I loved working in live events, I was starting to realize that I didn’t want to be in it forever. The coolness factor starts to wear off a bit, and you’re left working back-to-back 16+ hour days full of high stress and a lot of manual labor.
So when COVID hit, I began to reconsider my career choice. The work I did on the podcast was what led me ultimately to coding.
When I couldn’t find a transcription or audiogram software I liked I would turn to open-source solutions. After some frustration building my podcast website with wordpress, I began to wish I could just design the site myself! And ultimately, I’m a tech guy, always have been. So, I landed on coding and began to look into boot camps because I wanted to take this seriously and fully envelop myself in the craft.
I looked for the most rigorous, hands-on programs and found Rithm through a recommendation from a friend who was a Rithm alumnus. I absolutely loved the program and their focus on excellent programming skills, not just how well you can memorize syntax or get an app to work.
How did you get your first job in tech?
The bootcamp was crucial to this. Not only did they prepare us technically, but they gave us a pretty in-depth look into what it would take to land that first job. And furthermore, the offer I ended up signing came straight from a connection to the bootcamp that allowed me (and the rest of my cohort) to skip the application step and move straight to a phone screen with the option to begin a take home challenge.
This is not to say I didn’t apply to 74 other companies and engage in conversations and interviews with other hiring managers, but ultimately the company that would offer me a job came from the Rithm School connection.
How did you prepare for an interview?
Again, I was very fortunate to have been a part of a bootcamp that explained technical interview strategies and had us do mock interviews together. Beyond this, I did what most everyone else does: I buried my head in Leetcode, HackerRank, and Cracking the Coding Interview (Which I LOVE and highly recommend to anyone asking).
Any obstacles that you have to overcome in learning coding?
I think the biggest obstacle is just the time and energy it takes to learn coding. This is partly why I jumped into the bootcamp, I knew myself well enough to know I wouldn’t be able to self-motivate enough to put in the kind of work it would take to learn coding and transition careers.
Tips for newbies?
The biggest tip I’d give is to just start putting yourself out there through networking, meetups, job applications, etc. While having a good resume and personal site or a few solid personal projects is important, no one is ever going to care if they don’t know you exist.
Get a few things together that work, then improve them for an hour or so a day while the rest of your day is spent “putting your hat in the ring”.
What are your plans for the future?
The future is WIDE OPEN, which is incredibly exciting for me. I feel like I’m at the start of a road trip with no map and no destination in mind. I look forward to everything I’ll learn along the way!
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