Daniel Szendrei (33) graduated as a full-stack developer from Codecool in Budapest, Hungary in 2019. He is now working at AGFA Healthcare in Vienna, Austria as a full-stack developer. Read more about AGFA Healthcare and why they say their “code saves lives”.
But first, get to know a young, talented person changing his “boring” career as an engineer to a much more fulfilling developer career, by hard work and the spirit and love of learning.
Hi Dániel, it’s so nice to talk to you. Please introduce yourself!
I’m a full-Stack developer at AGFA Healthcare here in Vienna. I am specialised in Java, Angular and Gradle. I used to be a mechanical design engineer before.
What do you like about your current job? Are you not bored anymore?
Absolutely not bored. The best thing about my workplace is that when I find something I would like to change, I can change it. It’s up to me. And I can decide when and how the changes should be done. I have total flexibility and I enjoy it very much.
You were good at your job. Why did you want to change careers? Why did you choose programming?
When I started considering Codecool, I already had a bachelor and masters degree in mechanical engineering, and I’d been working as a mechanical engineer for 8 years. But I was bored and I really missed working on problems which are not just about making something cost efficient.
I started by thinking about what I did like about my job. I realised that I really enjoyed sitting in front of my computer and thinking about solutions. But sadly, that was only a little part of my job then. Even smaller after I became a project engineer. So I knew I had to make a change, and thought that programming could be a job I’d like.
I never coded before. I designed a unique 3D printer and tried to program it, but I realised quite early that I might need programming skills for that, to be picked up at school. Because I also found that it’s really hard to learn programming from scratch on your own.
Why did you choose Codecool?
I looked at different schools and university programs. But I already had a masters degree and all those programs were quite long and pricey. Then I checked bootcamps, but most of them were only 3 months long and I figured that wouldn’t be enough.
That’s why I’ve chosen Codecool finally. I thought 1 year should be enough to learn more than just the basics. I went to some open days, and I was convinced enough to quit my job and start at Codecool shortly after.
How did you feel about quitting your totally stable career? Wasn’t it frightening?
Yeah, it was frightening. But my job was boring and I wanted a new job where I needed to think. It wasn’t a financial decision, I already earned a lot of money, I just wasn’t happy anymore. And my main goal was to have a job, which I felt happy to do. I tried a lot of stuff before and I knew myself already. I knew that jobs where I needed to think of solutions to different problems were the best for me.
So you started at Codecool. How did you like the Codecool method?
I already knew about project-based learning and the other learning methods of Codecool, because I researched those when I was a presidential member of the Hungarian Astronautical Society. So I was very curious to experience how they work, and not just read articles from MIT. And I found that I really liked the experience.
Codecool also uses the flipped classroom principle. It means that practically the student becomes their own teacher and the teacher becomes a mentor. Mentors give you a real life problem and some models for your thinking to start from, and then you have to find your solution to the problem with the minimum possible guidance and support. This way you’ll not only find a solution to the specific problem, but you’ll also learn how to learn, and how to apply your learnings. And these are basic skills for any good programmer to have later on, too.
At universities, you always get lexical learning-nuggets and some partially relevant examples. And these are rarely connected with actual lifelike problems, because universities value tradition over gathering up-to-date, real life information, they rather reuse 10 year old textbook examples.
Also, in a flipped classroom, using a project-based method, you’re encouraged from the beginning to see the conceptual model, its logic and its reallife application options, too. This way you are made to think, and find out all about everything yourself, like which model to use and how.
So you found project-based learning helpful?
Yes. Since I was a project manager for a long time, I knew there was an “end to the tunnel”. You know, a reachable goal at the end of each learning project. You’ll definitely figure it all out in the end.
While at university, you get an example and then you say to yourself: “When will I use it? For what? Do I really need this or should I forget it?”. You always feel like it’s again some obsolete theoretical piece of lexical knowledge you once studied at high school, and then never found a practical use case for later. Because they forget to tell you where to fit these models, what is the bigger picture, since they got so used to the domain. They think everybody knows what they are talking about and will probably figure it out, once they do some project on their own or at their first job. Well, that rarely happens.
I usually tell people that if my university used the same project-based learning in the same manner as Codecool, then I would have become a better engineer straight after university, than I was after working as an actual engineer for 8 years.
What else did you like the about Codecool’s Full-Stack Development Course, and why?
I would say the flexibility.
On one hand, you can gain twice the amount of the required knowledge, too, if you want to.
On the other hand, you can jump weeks if the curriculum is easier for you, or you can extend the time if you need more time to finish a module. In my case I skipped some classes in modul 3. This is possible because of the mastery-based learning approach. It means that as soon as you master the expected skills, you’re welcome to move on to the next module. But you can also take your time, and spend some more weeks on modules, if you need to.
And what was the biggest challenge for you at Codecool?
To stop somewhere. I really tried to gain as much knowledge as I could. Sometimes I haven’t slept much, but I really enjoyed it! 😉
You also got to grow your soft skills during the course. What do you think about that?
I would say soft skills are not only useful, they are absolutely essential! They are almost more important than some programming languages when you apply for a job. Even for a senior position after your first junior job. You just cannot escape from working with others, and you need soft skills to do that efficiently.
In the beginning we thought about soft skills, “yeah, whatever”. But in the end I couldn’t see anyone succeeding, who who wasn’t serious about them. By the end everybody realised, that soft skills are not only important, they are a requirement for basically any job.
And you definitely learn soft skills at Codecool. I attended a few job interviews after the course and in each case, soft skills really made a difference.
Do you use the things you’ve learnt at Codecool?
Yeah, of course. Everything. Scrum and Kanban are really advanced there. We’re not using SPRING, but OSGI for example, in a special way, our own implementation. The good thing about Codecool is that you can adopt every skill you’ve learnt here, and this is a key skill for me in my current job.
What would you tell those who are thinking of applying to Codecool right now?
Do it! But I really think it depends who’s asking.
The first thing someone needs to know is that you need to invest a lot of your time. You can’t have a job during the full-time course. I mean you can to a specific level, but not more than 16 hours a week. I had a job as well, but it was tough. It’s all about investing time in your knowledge and education. And at Codecool, and in programming, there is no end to the amount of knowledge you can pick up.
When I started, I wanted to learn everything. There is so much material, and I really checked all those, because that’s how you that in engineering. But there is so much of it, you can’t actually learn everything. In the end it’s up to you, how much do you decide to learn. I found this exciting, and I learnt and coded the whole day every day. That’s why I got hired at AGFA as a not completely Junior Developer in the first place. And I even finished Codecool in 10 months, because I invested so much time into studying and coding. I really went all in, and it worked.
But it’s different for everybody. So I’d just say, give it a try. At Codecool, in the full-stack development course, the 1st 10 weeks are a kind of “trial period”. If you find in the 1st 10 weeks that programming or the school is not for you, you can opt out without losing too much money.
Final question. Obviously you worked really hard at Codecool. But did you also have fun along the way?
I’ve met quite a few amazing people there, and it was really good to work with them. As you can see I’m in a special t-shirt right now, and it was from a hackathon a few weeks ago, which I did with my ex-Codecooler friends. We don’t just go to hackathons together, we’re also still good friends.
I would say the community was great, the mentors were really, really nice people, so I really had fun and a good time at Codecool.
Did you find Daniel’s story inspiring? Do you want to experience the Codecool vibe, learn programming and land your dream tech job, too?
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