My Way Into Engineering — Part 1

What I did before becoming a Software Engineer

Before I decided a career change was in order, I dabbled in a lot of things.
After school I joined a PR agency in Berlin, raising funds for non-profit organizations like Amnesty International, the WWF, and the SOS Kinderdörfer. 
After a few successful years, I turned into a professional online poker player and even owned my own small startup for over a year before closing shop.

I did not have any experience when it comes to engineering, although I’m pretty good with computers in general.

Since being a poker professional really can’t be associated with stable income and the startup — while being a great learning experience — ultimately failed and we were planning to start a family, I needed to look for something more permanent and stable.

My Next Steps

During this time, I discovered that there were quite a few coding boot camps that had started growing here in Germany.
Some of them taught web development, some taught Java, all of them cost quite a bit of money and were 9 weeks long.

On first glance this looked like a very good fit for me, it would give me a shortcut into a new industry, allow me to work with a computer and probably get me the job I was looking for.

They all worked with technology that I didn’t quite like (funny how that works, I had no idea about things back then but already had an opinion 🤷🏼‍)

The School I Ended Up With

Still, I registered with one of the boot camps here in Berlin and was about to start when I learned about Lambda School.

Their program came with a lot of promises that I found interesting.

It focused a lot more on computer science, taught JavaScript, Python, and C and best of all there were no upfront costs.

It sounded a bit too good to be true to me, to be honest.

As it turned out they weren’t even taking international students, so I prepared for the start of my boot camp in Berlin.

However, all of that changed quickly when Karen Zachary (who is fantastic and in charge of admissions over @LambdaSchool) reached out to me and told me that I was one out of 5 international students selected to join as part of a pilot project.

How School Was Like

During the following 7 months, I learned a lot.

We started with simple HTML & CSS projects to get to know web development, but quickly entered the world of JavaScript, then React and then Express to become Full Stack Developers.

A day consists of two hours of instructor Q&A, a project to build, standups, pair programming with a sprint challenge every Friday to prove you understand and are able to use what you’ve learned.

Now, as you may have guessed this wasn’t easy.

Sitting down every night from 5 pm — 2 am (the downside to join a school that was not yet in Europe) and learning foreign concepts, working with them and maintaining sanity at the same time was one of the toughest challenges I faced in my life.

But it was also one of the best. Not only did I learn a whole lot and am a Software Engineer now, but I also made a bunch of friends with whom I share this amazing experience with.

How About You?

If you are looking for a way in and are living in the EU or the US I can wholeheartedly recommend Lambda School. There is no upfront cost — they get paid once you’ve landed your first job and exceed the salary cap — and they have an amazing team of instructors and project managers that help every student become the best engineer they can be.

About Me

I’m a software engineer based in Germany currently working at BuzzBird as a Golang Backend Developer.
You can learn more about me on my portfolio page or simply connect via LinkedIn or Twitter.