Chasing an IT Dream with Alvin Lim

Alvin Lim was always intrigued by the world of IT, but getting a start in the industry didn’t come easily. “Due to indecisiveness and deterrence from my family, I ended up studying mechanical engineering in university instead,” he tells us. Despite enrolling in a data analytics programme later on, Alvin soon realised he lacked the resources to launch a career in the field. 

Chasing an IT Dream with Alvin Lim
Written by
Last updated
Wednesday, November 16, 2022

A chance encounter with Kai, however, led him to Rocket Academy’s software engineering programmes — another career path which piqued his interest. One year on, Alvin is both a proud graduate of Rocket''s Coding Bootcamp and software engineering intern at payment solutions provider, Xfers. He tells us more about his Rocket experience and getting one step closer to his dream of building applications to solve real-life problems. 

Alvin, how did you go from mechanical engineer to software engineer?

Towards the final year of my studies, I found it difficult to find a job that was aligned with my interests, and Covid-19 was making the job hunt even more difficult. It was around that time when the government began allocating more subsidies and programmes to encourage Singaporeans to pick up IT skills. I swooped in on that opportunity and took a part-time online data analytics course at Gen Infiniti Academy, while completing my final weeks in university. 

During the course, I realised my preference for coding over mechanical engineering. I started participating in mentorship programmes to seek industry feedback from veterans, and find out if there was a quick and financially feasible way to become a data analyst. Unfortunately, I learnt that it was not realistic to begin a career in data analytics given my resources. 

Not wanting to give up the opportunity to do something IT-related, I sought more information about other career paths and received positive feedback about software engineering from the local community. I took up foundational software engineering skills online and found my interest in creating applications, which spurred me onto this career trajectory. 

What drew you to enrol at Rocket?

I found out about Rocket through Kai, who reached out to me in a Telegram group of IT professionals. After speaking to him, I felt that he genuinely wanted to train students to become job-ready software engineers. Kai had a curriculum in mind already and had successfully trained other career switchers. His working experience as a Software Engineer and strong network on LinkedIn also added to his credibility.

Even better, I found out that Rocket had hired a lead instructor from General Assembly’s Software Engineering Immersive programme, and he too had a wealth of experience in training career switchers! With limited capital, Rocket seemed to be the most cost-efficient way for me to start my software engineering career.

How did your Rocket experience differ from your university experience? 

I experienced a more tight-knit culture between the instructors and students at Rocket. I think the reason for that is Rocket's decision to limit the size of each batch so they can have ample consultation time with students. Moreover, I was able to accelerate my learning as the instructors were willing to spend time outside office hours with me.

What was something that challenged you at Rocket, and how did you overcome it? 

I was learning a new software to create a mobile application, but I experienced difficulties in launching my application even after research. It was my instructor, Akira, who eventually found the root cause of the problem — apparently some dependent JavaScript package was required. I really appreciated how he helped solve the problem for me because he went through the documentation and performed the setup steps to launch the application during his spare time.

What about the highlights?

The most memorable part of the course was the support from my instructors and course mates. The instructors were always open to students’ feedback on how to improve the material, and my course mates were enjoyable to work with because they had the same amount of zeal — or even more — than me. They also went the extra mile to share productivity tools and new features they had implemented in their projects with everyone.

Finally, have you been working on any applications since studying software engineering?

Through Rocket’s course, I was able to prototype some applications which I felt would have real-world uses. One that I had the most fun working on fulfils people’s desires to network, by letting them meet others through discounted activities that require multiple participants. 

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