Jeremy, you worked previously as an analyst at Ministry of Defence. Why did you decide to switch careers?
It seemed like a natural path to go into an analyst role with my political science degree. I had an opportunity to work with software developers, and that experience piqued my interest. I dipped my toes in the water and started taking an online course. I found out I really enjoyed the problem-solving nature inherent to software engineering, which was when I realised I’d like to make a career out of it.
What stood out about Rocket Academy was Kai's earnestness in seeing students succeed. Seeing the amount of drive that came from them gave me confidence that I wouldn't be taking this huge step of career transition alone, that Rocket Academy has the knowledge and drive to help students achieve their goals — be it learning programming as a hobby, or making a career out of it.
One of the highlights at my time there was definitely the people I met, such as my instructors, batchmates, as well as industry practitioners. Since Rocket Academy is a fully online bootcamp, it’s really important that the organiser creates a culture where people feel connected to one another, and this is challenging when you only know each other mostly through digital interactions.
But Rocket Academy has done really well in creating such a culture through a variety of platforms. For example, there was a Slack channel which connected you to other instructors and peers, where you could ask them about something you were stuck on, or arrange hangouts to get to know your batchmates better. Another example was the weekly chats with industry practitioners over Zoom, which was a great platform to ask questions like what they wished they knew when they started their careers. Having completed the bootcamp, I’m really grateful that there was a whole e-village that had directly or indirectly helped me to arrive where I’m at today.
What was an unexpected lesson you learned at Rocket Academy?
One of my biggest lessons was about software engineering-related opportunities in Singapore. Before graduation, I was quite anxious about how inclined companies in Singapore were to employing software engineers without traditional paper qualifications, much less someone from a non-technical background.
However, having been through interviews and employment offers, I can say with confidence and delight that my fear was unfounded. Ultimately, software engineering is a skillset, and companies will hire you based on your ability to demonstrate the requisite skills. It definitely helps that the bootcamp equips you with a solid portfolio by the time you start applying for jobs. A couple of employers actually commented that the projects in my portfolio were key considerations when assessing my compatibility in working with them.
Finally, do you have any advice for prospective career switchers aspiring to enter software engineering?
Before jumping into a career in software engineering, I strongly advise dipping your toes in the water to find out if this is something you will really like. It should be a comprehensive but relatively low-cost experience, like a short course. During or after the course, reflect on these questions to develop insights about your thoughts and attitudes:
1) Can I cope with the material?
Assuming it’s a tried-and-tested introductory course, the material should be well-tailored to beginners. This means that you should be able to absorb the material by the end of the course.
2) What do I feel about the challenges I’ve faced in this introductory course?
A good introductory course should incorporate tasks that challenge you. These are good opportunities to learn more about your attitudes towards software engineering — are you defeated by such challenges, or are you energised by them, confident that you will eventually surmount them? Your responses can give you insight about how you are likely to feel if you switch to a career in software engineering.
3) Do I get a sense of satisfaction from completing tasks or assignments?
They say careers are like marathons, and software engineering is no different. If you are going into a career in software engineering, you should get a sense of satisfaction from doing it. Being able to derive satisfaction from your own accomplishments, instead of from things like praises and promotions, will help you last!