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Alumni Spotlight: Genna Mergola October 13, 2020

Where are you currently located? What are some fun facts about you or some of your interests?

I am currently located in San Francisco, CA originally from New Jersey. I love being active, I was previously a professional modern dancer and yoga instructor. I still love to do yoga and plan to eventually teach again once possible.

What got you interested in coding and deciding to pursue a career as a Software Engineer?

I was just curious about learning to code so I started slowly with a book, I then moved on to free online classes. Eventually, I got to the point where I was spending hours everyday in between teaching and rehearsals learning javascript and I quickly realized I couldn’t NOT do this. And by “this” I mean software engineering. There was no way I could just stop, there was so much I still wanted to learn and do. I did not take my decision to go to a bootcamp or make this career switch lightly, but I knew that eventually this would be my journey.

Tell us about the remote environment and curriculum at Rithm School. What made it the right fit for you?

My cohort started in person for two weeks before we transitioned to online due to COVID-19. I would be lying if I said transitioning to remote learning didn’t make me nervous but my nerves quickly left as soon as we got started.

Every lecture was done live, questions were highly encouraged, and every instructor put so much effort into making sure we were constantly engaged. Pair programming after lectures was also a seamless transition to remote learning. I felt pair programming worked better online than it did in person, you were forced to truly pair program. There was no way of grabbing the other person’s computer and typing, you had to explain what you meant which forced a deeper understanding of what you were writing. I’d say that is the true purpose of pair programming, having a “driver” (person sharing their screen and typing) and a “navigator” (person reviewing and discussing decisions being made).

I truly did not feel much of a difference at all, Rithm made the transition unbelievably smooth. I absolutely never felt isolated or alone, which was one of my fears transitioning online. I can honestly say there was never a time I waited more than just a few minutes to get my questions answered. I learned to code online but it felt as close to in person as you could possibly get.

What were the pros and cons of attending a bootcamp?

Pros:

  • It is an expedited learning process, you become a software engineer in just about 4 months. (Cheaper and quicker than a 4 year CS degree)
  • There are flexible payment options as well.
  • You learn modern technologies including frameworks, libraries, and most recent versions of the coding languages taught at your bootcamp. You build small applications with those technologies.
  • You gain an awesome network and support system of engineers during and after your bootcamp.
  • If you attend Rithm, you have access to guidance on how to navigate your job search.

Cons:

  • Though it is not as expensive as a 4 year CS degree, it is still expensive. Especially for someone coming from a career that does not pay as high.
  • Though you are taught basic data structures, you don’t go as in depth as you would with a CS degree.

Do you have a favorite learning memory from your time here?

So many!! I guess a favorite of mine has to be when I would ask a question I was nervous to ask (because I didn’t want to be the only one that didn’t understand) and then a lot of others would follow up on that same question because they were also confused. I feel like I learned to trust myself while at Rithm, and that if I don’t understand something I should ask about it because there is probably a good reason why I’m confused and I’m probably not the only one who is.

What company are you working at now, and what do you do there?

I actually start my new role in just a few days! I will be working as a Product Engineer at Carrot Fertility. I will implement code throughout the entire stack as well as help develop the direction of the product. In other words, as a Product Engineer I am not limited to writing code but also get to help decide on how the product is designed. I am so excited about the role and the company in general! Their mission is helping people everywhere!

Tell me about the process of briefly being unemployed while job searching, and how that process went. Did the COVID-19 pandemic impact this?

I graduated in June so I do believe the COVID-19 pandemic impacted my job search to an extent. I spent about two months getting only rejections and not one phone screen. Although I believe Rithm had prepared us for this as much as possible, I was feeling the weight of all of the rejections. So, I felt sad and decided to get myself whiteboard wallpaper and spend most of my days on Leetcode apart from applying for jobs and networking. Solving algorithms on Leetcode was my favorite thing to do that played a part in the job search and it made me happy. Eventually, things started to look up for me. I believe that was due to timing, a change in my resume, and the advice Rithm always gave us to continue to apply for jobs and network as much as possible (don’t give up!). I had gotten some phone screens and had begun the interview process with a few different companies. At that point I was grateful for my slight Leetcode obsession.

I was also accepted as a finalist for YearOne, a company Zach (the career coach at Rithm) had sent to us. YearOne interviews engineers behaviorally and technically. If you are accepted as a YearOne finalist, they send your information to companies they have paired with ensuring those companies that the engineers have been pre screened and that they will have YearOne’s extra support during the first year of the job.

Shortly after becoming a finalist at YearOne, I heard from Carrot Fertility, one of the companies they were partnered with (The one I was most excited about!). Soon after, I found myself in the final round of interviews with Carrot and another company outside of YearOne. After getting an offer from Carrot, I took a few days to talk with my husband. I quickly realized that it was exactly what I wanted in a job so I cancelled my other interview and accepted the offer!

What advice do you have for people who are interested in attending a bootcamp?

Do your research to find the bootcamp that will best fulfill what you are looking for. I can honestly say that I could not have had a better experience than I did at Rithm. If you are looking for support from instructors, care for the quality of their curriculum, and empathy for all humans who attend the bootcamp, look no further!

Written by Angelina

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