Interview With Kamila Lambert, Software Engineer Intern at Solv

She made a great transition from successful entrepreneur to working in the Tech Industry. Here is the interview:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

“I wanted to be a doctor in college so I went to school for that, but after doing an internship I realized that I didn’t want to be a doctor. I didn’t like it; it wasn’t for me. So I started on my own business teaching people how to garden and helping them with their gardens — I ended up selling that business because I couldn’t see myself doing it forever. I asked myself what I wanted to do, and I want to make things. Being a software engineer allows me to do that.”

What do you currently do?

“I am currently a software engineer intern at Solv Health. I work on both their front-end and back-end code base. We use React for our front-end and Python for our back-end.”

How did you learn how to code?

“I went through a coding program called Learners Guild. It’s a coding program in Oakland that’s ten months long. I did this program because I knew that fifteen-hour coding days at traditional three month bootcamps wasn’t going to work for me. Learning like that isn’t for me so I chose a longer program where I would have the time to allow the information to sink in. The program wasn’t exactly what I signed up for though, they didn’t offer as much support as they advertised and they were still trying to figure things out.”

Would you advise people to do a similar program or a bootcamp if they want to become software engineers?

“Yes and no. I think that if you know that a bootcamp is something for you, then definitely go for it but I think that bootcamps will only benefit a specific group of people. I think that the learning environment that you’re in is what is most beneficial to learning programming. I liked how everyone at Learners Guild was there to code. The most important part is the environment.”

How did you get your internship?

“Connections. Connections are extremely important and valuable; I don’t think that I would have even gotten an interview if I wasn’t referred for the position. I was referred for the position through someone that I met at Learners Guild and everything worked out. I am very thankful.”

What was the interview process like?

“For the first interview, I met up with one of the software engineers, walked around and talked about my background. He told me what the job entails of and what the company does, it was a non-technical interview. They sent me a coding challenge after, it was building a mobile app in React Native. I completed the challenge and they invited me for another interview. I thought that I was just going to meet the team, but it ended up being a technical interview with three software engineers, each meeting lasting for 45 minutes. They weren’t super intense problems but it was definitely challenging. They liked me and gave me an offer.”

Do you feel like you’re contributing code and do you occasionally get the imposter syndrome? Since many new software engineers have told me that they feel it in the beginning.

“Yes and yes. I am very thankful that my team is so conscious about helping new software engineers. They make an effort to teach, help me, and make sure that I’m not struggling too much. They had me work in a large project at a very early stage with a more advanced software engineer and I was initially hesitant because I felt like couldn’t contribute that much, but that was good for my growth because I ended up learning a bunch. At one point I had to draw out every prop being passed down to each component on paper but once I drew it out, I understood how the app worked. So I do believe that I’m contributing code. Sometimes I do feel like I don’t know enough, but I think that that’s just a feeling that everyone has. At the Guild they emphasized Googling but I didn’t think that it would be this relevant. Can I ask you a question? Now that you experienced both coding at a bootcamp and coding by yourself, which one do you prefer?”

I think that at a bootcamp, I coded more because everyone around me was coding. But I still don’t think that bootcamps are worth it because of how much they cost. Coding by myself is definitely harder because there isn’t anyone that I can go to when I’m stuck so I have to be okay with being stuck longer. Back to you, do you have any final thoughts/advice?

“I think that I’m lucky. I am very grateful for this internship. I would advise bootcamp graduates to be okay starting with internships. You shouldn’t come out and expect that six-figure job because that mindset will only be a disfavor. The reality is that coding takes time — it takes time to learn it, to understand it, and to implement it. If I was in a full-time position instead of an internship, I would feel like I needed to know everything when in reality I’m still learning. I am very thankful for this internship.”