Episode 90

 “Kim started her software engineering career during the pandemic from scratch. She lost her job and started learning code from a bootcamp. In 4 months she got a job as a software engineer. Watch as she describes her experience.

Kim Luu:


My whole life’s purpose is to be helpful to other people. Originally, that desire led me to pursue a career in hospitality, where I could directly impact the one-to-one consumer experience through her attention to detail, clear communication, and forward thinking. After moving to the US, I regained touch with my innate curiosity. Through the perspectives of new friends I’ve made in the US, I realize that I had long ago shut off a valuable part of my mind – one that was more about seeking and exploring. But this led me to a career crossroads.

I started looking into other options, harkening back to her childhood self, when her desire for answers sent her on interesting rabbit trails that led to even more questions. I was always looking for things and asking questions and making things that were crafty. I started thinking, what can bring me that sort of excitement again?

A friend suggested me try coding but I brushed off the idea at first because I’d never worked with computers in any serious way.

Then one day, I decided to try it on a whim, taught myself some Javascript and enrolled to Hack Reactor’s immersive program. I realized that with software engineering, I can make an even bigger impact because the world is changing so fast, only software can keep up.

After the bootcamp, I landed her current job as a Software Engineer at Intellivision Entertainment, a company whose mission is to unite people through affordable, family-friendly entertainment. work on the infrastructure cloud team, doing backend work to build out services for consumers. I have a lot of autonomy on the job, but simultaneously feels like part of a passionate, supportive team with mentors and coworkers all working together toward common goals.

Episode Transcription:


Intro: This is the mentoring developer’s podcast. Episode 90. Welcome to mentoring developers. The podcast for new and aspiring software developers where we discuss your struggles anxieties and career choices. And now here’s your host Arsalan, Ahmed. In this episode of mentoring developers,

Guest Bio: I’ll be talking to Kim. Lou, I think you’re going to love listening to, and hearing her story because Kim embodies everything. We talked about everything we’re about on this platform mentoring developers. So, if you’re a new developer, you want to be a developer, or you are a girl, or if you’re an immigrant, or, if you’re somebody who doesn’t have any background in Tech and you don’t know, a lot of people That can guide you in sort of help, you should listen to this episode. Kim came from the hospitality industry and she was also not born in the US. But after she moved to America she decided that she needed to have a fresh start. She loved helping people. So She got into a code, bootcamp coding boot camp. Folks, he went in there for, I guess, a few months, maybe three or four months but within four months of joining in the middle of this covid pandemic she found a job. She found a job, it’s a struggle look obviously. All first jobs are going to be a struggle, but she made it and she learned enough to get her foot in the door, which is Really the most important thing until it’s the neck. The next most important thing is to get your second job and your third job. And finally, establishing yourself and getting the first job is the hardest part. She did it. And now she is a software engineer, in television entertainment, been the company’s amazing. It’s a startup company that is doing some amazing things. We’re gonna pick this conversation from the time that she just started her new job. I think it was a month into it. This is in 2020. And now it’s 2021. So she has been doing this for a while and I checked up on her and she’s still doing great. So this is going to be a great episode for you if you’re not sure if you got it, if you can make it then.

New updates about the style of the Podcast:

Yeah. Listen to this episode. Oh, and if you have been a long-time listener of mentoring developers, your lord is the format is a little bit different. So is going to be some White’s over questions and we’re gonna cut right to her answers, keep it short and simple or we’re trying this new thing out and hope you like it. All right, we’re also on YouTube now and we’re on Spotify, we’re on iTunes, and Google podcast, and apple podcast, and everywhere you get Podcast. So check us out on all these platforms. All right, let’s go. Let’s get started.

Kim Luu: Hi, I’m good. Thank you for having me.

Arsalan Ahmed: Alright, let me ask you a few questions. So tell us the story of how you got your first job during the covid pandemic.


Kim Luu: So the beginning of the bent pandemic, I lost my job because like all the hospitality and just to show employer-employee I was thinking about becoming a software engineer for a long time, but I didn’t have that encouragement to switch. Mike I just still feel like I will waste it on my own, for my effort, to what I already have pursued at the time. But my dependent happen and I lost my job. And I was thinking, I have to do my time to do something, and I was thinking, should I taught myself how to cope? And I was thinking, how can I do that? I could use Like, on my free platform, YouTube tutorials, or whatever to talk myself to take myself, but I feel like I’m looking better in a class environment. So we’re thinking, do I want to do a four-year degree in some University? And then I went to YouTube and I try to talk to myself. I try to teach myself a little bit and I found out that there’s something called bootcamp coding that you can learn how to code in three months and I found out there are a few of them that really good.So, I taught myself a little bit of squid to pass the interview into the boot camp. And then from there, I went into the program and thinnest it. And after two months after the boot camp, I got my first job.

Arsalan Ahmed: Wow, that’s an incredible story. Was it like going to a demanding coding boot? Well, we work really hard in the boot camp,

Kim Luu: We work sick days a week, 11 hours a day and we learn all those things to amend from compelling nothing. I didn’t even know what a parameter is, what a function is, or what a conditional statement is. I have nothing didn’t know anything and after three months, I can create a full stack application and that is just amazing to me during The Bootcamp, The Pack reactor really have a really good program but they don’t Hold Your Hand a lot. Do you have to learn a lot yourself and what they call it? They teach you to be a tournament and that is the most beneficial of a hack reactor to me. Because after that, I will have to learn things myself. But that is also the hardest thing is that from no background from know nothing about soft engineering. I have to cut a dick into the dig it out myself and learn myself based on whatever I was provided in the boot camp.

Arsalan Ahmed: Which Technologies were you taught in your boot camp?

Kim Luu: So, for the back end, And database, we learn SQL database or NoSQL database SQL database. We learn my SQL or post cacique or NoSQL in MongoDB. Mostly MongoDB for NoSQL from the server. We mostly Express server and in the front and we use React and I really like reaction in because it’s just really easy to work with and really They are two weeks in the cold for now. But in my job right now, I’m worth more in the back end, which creates servers and databases. Aw, F and that stuff. And I really miss working with React and the front end and seeing what the result came out. How the website looks like,

Arsalan Ahmed: How did you approach looking for your first job out of bootcamp?

Kim Luu: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, back to what you talk about, But the third job I plan on to be picky on my first job at all. I just want a job. Even if they don’t pay me, I was willing to work with for start-up which is share, that they gave me or whatever they gave me, but for the new boot camp grad or new people. Into entering into this software engineer Bill don’t be afraid and don’t be picky with your first job because if you learn something, if you want to learn something and learn from the guy and we can do whatever you want to work on their project I actually my first job is great and I love every bit of it. My company is in Astoria but I’m happy to start at work because I can learn. I can work on different parts of the project that taught those teeth me a lot and work with a lot of good, senior software engineers that you were really good at mentoring and great to work with at this company.

Arsalan Ahmed: What is the cost of going to a really good coding bootcamp like hack react?

Kim Luu: Yeah. hack reactor cough. I think about eighteen thousand dollars but do you can do they have a Financial option or can you do a share? They call an income share program where you only pay back the tuition after you get a job and they have to be a minimum payment of sixty thousand dollars a year. So, you have to know to Do a little bit of JavaScript before and you have to do the interview to play a technical interview with any company later to get a job. So, to get into a program, you have to do the technical interview and if they accept you, you can go between the Financial options that they provide

Arsalan Ahmed: Where the classes are virtual during the pandemic, or In person?

Kim Luu: Yes, it’s all both Shelley to lose zoom and it’s actually better like that because if I was happy if I Have to admit to the boot camp campers then it will be like two hours of the day that I have to Camille on this on the arrow, but I can do that to our to get some rest. Or to thank God or to keep coding because I need a lot of time to learn that’s our thing because it’s only three months and we work from. So the class starts from 9:00 to 8:00 p.m. but we actually walked past that APM to whatever time that we can fix that bug. That we can pass that problem. So that wrap is really intense for three months but it will be worth it. It’s it, if you really want it, I really recommend going to boot camp to buy a hack, reactor. Because for me, I not only learned technical skills. I learned a lot of talk to you in there too like pair programming and after that, they have a really good job placement program for you also talk to You about like making material, like, resume cover letters. Give you a few programs, and a few projects that you can put on your resume as on your LinkedIn. But if you like to work in my room, I mean that you’ll be yourself exploring things and learning. when the new technology of all whatever framework that you like is not a problem either and just in this symmetry really is exploring things in addition to classes at Simon’s. Do boot camps, and offer guidance and mentoring. And if they do, what does it look like? Yes. So they have. Yeah. So they have the resident. The mental is there to help you if you get stuck, we usually do pair programming during the day.So like it’s not only me on this project but I work with somebody and we would go out brainstorming, options throughout our ideas. And what if we do this, what I would do that? And if we get stuck for too long, then we can submit a ticket for somebody to jump in to help and it’s always good to try to learn it yourself. First, try to think about it really carefully. Try to use whatever source at that, you can like the internet YouTube or whatever you can use for you to submit a ticket to somebody, coming to help you. And that is also, what would look like when you get a real job, you will have to figure out yourself first before you come in and ask some senior engineer to help you out.

Arsalan Ahmed: One of the things that I think is on the minds of a lot of listeners is, how hard is it to be accepted. Or is it hard at all to be accepted as a software engineer without many years of experience and education? Just going through a boot camp.

Kim Luu: Well, I don’t, I really don’t. They asked me a lot of questions about, why I wanted to be a software engineer. Why I switched my career and do I like it or whatever like that? And it’s not surprising to me because I am in my resume and my LinkedIn shows that I don’t have any. Any background in computer science. And I just started, like, six months ago, four months ago, actually, and then but it is not a problem for them, actually, because The matter that the thing that matters most is that I have the ability to learn, and I have the attitude of the right attitude to work with this company and to be a part of a team. So they didn’t really expect much. I don’t think they expect much of my technical skills. But they did think that I could be a good asset to the team wagon. I can learn and evolve in my career later.

Arsalan Ahmed: How did you prepare for your first interviews? Get your first job.

Kim Luu: Yeah, this is interesting because of the jaw payment program from hack reactor. I learn a lot of things I did a lot of lead Coast problems and I learned all those things like they all do interview process like first, they would do in a phone interview and then the phone and then like a small coding problem and then they will do a bigger calling problem and then they will want. You to talk about like take-home problem or talk about your project, whatever like that. But because this company is a start-up, they didn’t really follow that pattern at all. The first interview lay on the first into the UI into it, with engineers in the and I ever watches the invitation which is 15. In minutes. So I thought it was just a phone screen when they get to know each other, you know but it wasn’t, they asked multiple question technical questions and all those things, and turn out. I did pretty good and I got to the second interview. This time was with Fi engineers. And this time they want me to talk about one of the Projects on my resume so I talking about it and show them my code. I was thinking before I got into the interview this time they definitely gonna make me do some kind of legal program problem, but they didn’t. And it turns out that the project that I’m working on a really close to what the job requirement was. So They make a decision to move me forward to the next interview, which is with the feel,And after the interview with the CEO about that job,

Arsalan Ahmed: Did you find it overwhelming? In your first job when you started right out of a coding bootcamp opposed to going to college and Rigorous training putting bootcamp is sort of a shortcut but it has some advantages and disadvantages. it was it overwhelming a job?


Kim Luu: It was really overwhelming. Well, this is during the pandemic. So we own work at home, work from home and it’s just a little bit different onboarding process because I didn’t go to work. And so we met up on zoom on a zoom call and my supervisor SI me to attack. I’m Gera the day before that, and I will looking at it and I was like, Oh my God. What is it? What? I freaked out and then they gave me a tour of the code base and I just said don’t I didn’t think I can do this. I was like, should I quit right now to save my face? And it’s a, it’s a really it’s a that my first size here is a server and my supervisor’s car showed me that he already will another server that was can look into it. And kind of learn and could copy something and then just need to modify some stuff. And at first, it just even though I know that they were already something that I  can start from. But first I should I have to like to read through that code Bay and understand everything that only cost me like. That one really took me like two days or three days to do that and now I’m done I have to put on that all my configuration for the court to what? Probably for the test? What properties? And that takes a little bit more and but after one weekI starts to take it in and start to get used to the code base and everything. And after a week and a half, I finished that project, that Tascam jela, and that feel, who that feels great.

Arsalan Ahmed: It is hard when you’re starting, especially, especially when you’re a new developer. You can through a coding bootcamp, but didn’t get easy after the first week or so as a new developer in your first job.


Kim Luu: No, actually. Well the second thing that I got it sighs, I was a little trickier because I don’t have any like format to follow anymore. I have to kind of buy it myself and still I feel like learning right now and it’s great to have a good team that always be willing to answer your question. And as a new software engineer, I feel like if you’re afraid, Sometimes, but, but I have to tell myself every day that is good to ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t ask questions then there’s no way that you can learn. And I’m so, yeah, I’m so grateful to work with a team where my senior engineer always be very helpful and always be willing to answer my questions.

Arsalan Ahmed: All right. So how long have you been working at your first job?

Kim Luu: It’s actually only a month. Yeah, one month.

Arsalan Ahmed: Is there anything at all? That you’re really passionate about

Kim Luu: my passion right now. I don’t really do anything to say coding. I’m still new. So I try to spend a lot of our and engaged, to get things done because I know that would be evaluated based on how fast I can do things, but I’m still learning. So, I try to spend a lot of hours a day, to figure out what I’m doing now and the fact that I’m going to stick with my career for the rest of my life. Probably. Yeah. So I would really do encoding right now. That’s my one thing right now.

Arsalan Ahmed: All right, Kim. So if people want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

Kim Luu: Oh, they can go to my LinkedIn can Kima h, l uu and yeah, if you need any advice, if you need, if you have any question, begin kid needs someone to talk to if you and the early stage of learning up switching careers. Yeah, hit me up and I’ll answer your question.

Arsalan Ahmed: Thank you so much for being part of the show and helping us understand what it’s like to be a bootcamp graduate. What it’s like to struggle. All of us. Struggle, right? That’s a little secret. We all struggle. We all have struggled and we struggled, but we will overcome our struggles, through perseverance, through the guidance of podcasts, like these podcasts, and going through coding boot camps and college campuses. Mentors and talking to men surrounding yourself with people who care.

Kim Luu: Thank you, and thank you for having me. I love to share my experience. And for the people out there, the one that switches careers that you grab from boot camp. Don’t be afraid of life. So apply for that job, and you get it.

Arsalan Ahmed: So, I have been working on an online space Online Academy where you get mentorship, where you get really good Technical and non-technical education. But also a caring environment where people care about you and feel safe. Where you feel like you will make it because there are people actually have empathy toward you. They’re going to help you succeed because of all of being there. So stay tuned for that. This is going to be pretty big in 2023.

Arsalan Ahmed: Hopefully, we will start with a nice good cohort of people building up steam as we go. All right. People this has been a pleasure to you later

for show notes and transcripts visit us at mentoring Developers.com,


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