Kevin Weng studied mechanical engineering and worked in the semiconductor industry before noticing that many of his former college classmates had moved into careers in software engineering. Curious, he started looking into why and found himself interested enough to enroll in our Intermediate Coding Bootcamp.
Below, we caught up with Kevin to learn more about his career change, and what he’s up to now as a Software Engineer at Stripe.
What drew you to software engineering?
I have been interested in programming from a young age, though I never pursued it as a career. After graduating with an MS in Control Systems in Mechanical Engineering and then working for a few years in the semiconductor industry, I found myself facing the reality that the SF Bay Area cost of living is far beyond both what I was making and my earning potential in that field.
At a friend’s party, where most of us knew each other from our Mechanical Engineering program at college, I found that nearly everyone had somehow switched to software. That tipped me over into actively pursuing a switch and swimming with rather than against the current.
What led you to Hack Reactor?
I was living in the SF Bay Area and most of my friends were in the software field. At that time, a handful of my friends had gone through Hack Reactor already and all raved about it. Each of them had super successful outcomes and only had excellent things to say about it so I didn’t even bother looking into other similar programs.
What did you get out of your time in the Intermediate Coding Bootcamp?
To say the program sharpened my ability to learn is an understatement; it supercharged it! I gained a new-found appreciation for the importance and value of learning, which in turn gave me a massive boost in confidence.
I gained a handful of new friends who went through the program with me. There’s something special about surviving difficult times with a small group of people. I gained friends who shared similar viewpoints on career aspirations.
I also gained the skill required to land my first job as a software engineer!
Where are you working now? How long have you been there?
I’m currently at Stripe and have been here for a little over a year. Prior to Stripe, I was at Google for three years, and before that at Lyft for several years.
What’s your role, and what kinds of projects are you working on?
I’m a full-stack software engineer, acting as my team’s tech lead. I am building a SaaS platform specifically for third-party integrations with the Stripe dashboard.
What do you like about your role? What challenges have you faced so far?
I really enjoy the challenges of solving multi-faceted problems that are just a little outside of my comfort zone; it gives me a strong sense of satisfaction to be able to architect a solution where none existed before.
What’s your work environment like? Do you work on-site, or remotely?
I used to work in the office but since the pandemic, I have been working from home, and that is looking to be the permanent state of things. While I generally enjoy working from home, I do miss the office. The excellent perks at the office far outweighed my 5-minute walking commute.
How was the post-program job search process for you?
I was among the few graduates who were really on top of their job search, so much so that we started applying and tracking our applications in a shared Google spreadsheet even before the official program-supported tracking started. I think most of us were very driven to have a successful outcome.
At the suggestion of career services, we conducted mock interviews for each other, practiced toy problems together, and reviewed and critiqued each other’s resumes in preparation for applications. All told I applied to 122 jobs, received 5 offers, and concluded my search in 4 weeks.
Do you have any advice for incoming Intermediate bootcamp students?
Be hungry and stay focused to learn, but don’t have FOMO because there are far too many cool techs out there and you really only need to know a few.
Absolutely clear your social calendar, make a 3-month meal plan, and SLEEP!
Kevin graduated from our Intermediate Coding Bootcamp. To read about a student’s experience in our Beginner Coding Bootcamp, check out Amanda’s story here.