DEV Community

Cover image for From Healthcare to Software: My Experience as a Job Seeker (with Tips)
Chukwuma Anyadike
Chukwuma Anyadike

Posted on • Updated on

From Healthcare to Software: My Experience as a Job Seeker (with Tips)

I have successfully transitioned from being a healthcare worker to becoming a software engineer. You're probably wondering how I did it, especially with the recent tech layoffs. You might want to know how to get that first (or second and beyond) job in tech. There is no magic solution here, no gimmicks. It is directed hard work intermingled with a strategic plan and an unwavering goal to become an elite programmer. All I can do is share my experience, and some helpful tips that everyone can use.

Table of Contents

Boot Camp Experience and Career Preparation
After Completion of Boot Camp and Job Application Phase

Takeaways based on my experience


I went to high school, university, and medical school to achieve the prototypical Nigerian-American dream of becoming a doctor and making my family proud. After practicing surgery for several years, I left medicine entirely and spent the next few years teaching anatomy at a local university. Almost five years after I last touched a scalpel, I remembered that when I was in high school I enjoyed my programming courses. I even made a video game at that time which consisted of a spaceship shooting moving objects on a screen. At that point, I made a decision to become a software engineer since I enjoyed programming and and being able to create things from nothing. Furthermore, I did not want to go to school for another 3 to 4 years. For Nigerians, the answer is always go back to school and get another degree. When I hear stuff like that, in my mind I say "Get the F@@k out of here!" Between college, medical school and graduate medical education (residency), I have enough degrees. Subsequently, I enrolled Flatiron School's Software Engineering Flex Program (bootcamp) on a part time basis and finished in under 40 weeks. It was nice because I could continue to work and make money and still learn programming.

The preparation for a job search begins the minute you decide that you want to be a developer. As a matter of fact the minute you write your first line of code, YOU ARE A SOFTWARE ENGINEER, period. Knowing who you are is the first step to getting hired. Next, you show them who you are.

Show them who you are

Boot Camp Experience and Career Preparation

Now back to my story. A lot of preparation started even before completing boot camp thanks to the periodic career workshops sponsored by Flatiron Career Services. Early on, I started developing my personal brand. This included establishing my identity as a software engineer. A LinkedIn profile was required to create an online presence and make connections. I already had a LinkedIn profile, but it was largely for decorative purposes before. This is key in creating a digital footprint. Another requirement was to design my elevator pitch. It basically equates to tell me about yourself in a minute or less. Here is what mine looks like.

"My name is Chukwuma Anyadike and I am a Software Engineer. I have just completed my training at Flatiron School. I have spent the last 4 years teaching anatomy when I remembered how much I enjoyed programming when I was younger. I even made a video game. My interests include but are not limited to designing applications focusing on learning/education, health and wellness, and electronic medical records. I look forward to designing more applications like these."

Elevator Pitch

Using this elevator pitch, I created a video of myself delivering my elevator pitch using Loom. This comes in handy during the job application process. As a matter of fact some job applications require a video presentation of yourself explaining why they should hire you. Every job interview will ask you to tell them about yourself. This is where you give your elevator pitch.

I also created a technical resume which I continuously revised while at boot camp and during my job search. I will expand on this later.

While at Flatiron, I completed five projects. Three of them were deployed online. Each project required at least 30 commits to GitHub as well as a 3 minute video demonstration which I put on my YouTube channel (Eye Of A Hero). At the time I did not think much of these requirements but it is significant. Some recruiters and hiring managers check your GitHub account for evidence of activity so keep it nice and green, hence the commit history.

Sample GitHub Commit History

You should have at least two to three projects listed on your resume with corresponding demonstrations. It is easier for recruiters/hiring managers to watch a brief video demonstration. The applications that I built and included on my resume include Musculoskeletal Anatomy, Eclectic Music Database, and Healthcare System Interface. These applications reflect my interests and potentially align with interests from prospective clients.

We were also required to write a blog with each project. This is how I started blogging here on I chose this platform because it is geared toward those in the tech industry. These blogs also add to your online presence and your brand. Honestly, I enjoy posting blogs because it allows me to express myself freely as well as teach tech related topics.

After Completion of Boot Camp and Job Application Phase

The first thing that I did after finishing the Flatiron Software Engineering program was take a break. It was not because I wanted to slack off, it was because the fatigue hit me pretty hard, especially after doing my capstone project.

Before I proceed with the rest of my story. I will give you a brief overview of my career search with some numbers.

Overview of Job Search

From the time I completed bootcamp to the time I got a job offer was just under five months. I applied to over 100 jobs, most of these were cold applications. The number of known rejections was 21 and climbing despite already being hired (I'm laughing my ass off). The lack of responses, which I call the unknown rejections, were around 80. The number of job offers that I got was two, both within a week of each other. The number of actual in person (via video chat platform) interviews was three. Two of these interviews were obtained by networking. I also had a phone interview which did not result in an in person interview. One in person interview did not directly result in me getting hired but allowed be to do a pre employment program where I learned Java, advanced SQL, and Spring Framework including Spring Boot. After successfully completing the pre employment program, I got an offer from that company. I did not take that offer. The other in person interview process was protracted due to the hiring freeze during this time. However, I eventually received an offer from these people as well and accepted it.

Initialization and Game Plan

After some needed time off, I had a kick-off meeting with my career coach and discussed expectations and goals. I had mentioned that my Achilles' heel was that I was not good at making connections. Other things that I did was sign up for a Huntr account to track my job search and access Flatiron schools Career Prep website which consisted of a series of modules. These modules include:

  1. Planning a Successful Job Search
  2. Build Your Technical Resume
  3. Personal Branding
  4. Networking for Success
  5. HR/Cultural Interviewing
  6. Technical Interviewing
  7. Kicking Off Your Job Search

My search for employment in the tech industry was modeled around these modules. Furthermore, I worked closely with my career coach meeting with him weekly initially then biweekly.


I spent the first month optimizing my personal brand. This included polishing the technical resume that I created during boot camp. There are many resources on how to prepare a technical resume. One of them includes this link: Transforming Your Resume For The Tech Industry. My goal was to keep my resume to one page while conveying the essential information. Also, I utilized action verbs in my resume using information from this link: 200+ Action Verbs & Power Words for Your Resume. For example, as software engineers we do not just make applications we BUILD applications. We do more than use technology we IMPLEMENT technologies like React and Rails. You should start to see a pattern here. My career coach also reviewed my resume and gave useful feedback which I implemented.

I also refactored my existing projects and updated the HTML/CSS so that the projects would be more presentable. For some projects I added additional functionality. Some of the demo videos had to be adjusted for sound quality. One demo video was redone because it was way too long and had to be cut from 12 minutes to 5 minutes.

Furthermore, I created a profile on my GitHub page. A separate portfolio page was also created. Here are links to my pages for reference: GitHub and portfolio. Your page does not have to look like mine, but I think you get the idea. However, your web page should be concise, organized, and easy to navigate. It should not be too fancy. I am not sure if you need a separate portfolio page if you have a good GitHub profile but I do not think that it hurts to have one. Furthermore, it can be seen as an additional project which demonstrates your skill set.


Networking and the End Of Exile

At this point the networking really begins. By this time, I have over 300 connections on LinkedIn since I really started using the page to connect. When you connect with others then others want to connect with you. If you show yourself and demonstrate your value, people (including recruiters) will find you and may want to connect with you. I started making connections with other Flatiron alumni and recruiters. I think my biggest yield for me came from the connections I made during Career Week. Flatiron has Career Week every three months. This includes employer information sessions, skill-building workshops, and alumni panels. One of these employer information sessions include a one-to-one meeting with a recruiter from a company that has a history of employing Flation graduates. I was all up on Career Week like white on rice. I attended nearly every session and connected with any recruiters and alumni that I met using LinkedIn.


Upskilling/Leveling Up on Tech Skills and Interviews

While polishing my resume, developing my brand, and making connections, I was also upskilling or leveling up. Upskilling involves improving your coding skills/knowledge as well as interview preparation.


Improving my coding skills involved practicing coding challenges on HackerRank or LeetCode. I will be honest here, I was rather inconsistent with practicing coding challenges. The tendency was to practice more if I had an upcoming interview or if I recently failed a coding challenge. Furthermore, one does not have to ace a coding challenge to get hired. I sure didn't, but I would aim for two out of three, that is what seemed to work for me at least. Being able to write pseudocode is also valued because it demonstrates your thought process. On occasion I practiced with someone else from my cohort. I even did a mock technical interview and coding challenge with a technical coach from with ties to Flatiron. I was allowed one free interview session and I made the most of it. I got feedback on things I did correctly and areas for improvement. Furthermore I was told to read Eloquent JavaScript, which I mostly read but did not complete.

Other things included learning other coding languages like Java. An additional coding project was also built implementing React and Rails. It was on categorizing dinosaurs (for some reason was was obsessed with dinosaurs for a brief period of time), which probably does not have much use in industry unless one is a paleontologist. I can argue, however, that it demonstrates the ability to manage a complex database and validate data. In general, subsequent projects should be geared toward an industry need, as my career coach would say.

Interview practice was another area that I utilized to boost my skill in answering common interview questions. It was a matter of knowing how to answer the questions, boosting confidence and drawing from life experience. This is where having a career coach was critical for me. I had at least four mock interviews with him, especially close to the time of job interviews. Here are some common questions and their approaches.

Tell me about yourself. This is where I delivered my elevator pitch. Do not make this appear rehearsed. Tailor your pitch toward the needs of the client/interviewer. This is where researching the company is critical to know how to cater to them. ALWAYS do your research prior to any interviews, even phone interviews.

How have you dealt with a difficult situations? How do you try to schedule a meeting with a colleague who keeps putting off the meeting by claiming they are busy? Tell me about your projects. How do you deal with conflict? These are common questions that are asked. As a matter of fact I have been asked all of these questions. These questions test your soft (behavioral) skills. Basically, are you likable and easy to work with? I would read up on the STAR method of answering behavioral interview questions. Again, draw on your life experience. If you did a coding challenge with a colleague I would use this experience. If you helped with a project or had to redo a project, I would draw from this as well. This is what I did, I utilized my experience, including some of my previous professional experience. It is safe to say that the fact that I have successfully handled surgical emergencies demonstrates my problem solving capability and my ability to be a team player. My point is that soft skills are transferable and you can illustrate this during an interview.

Remember, the interview is a two-way experience. You are also interviewing the company. Have at least one or two questions to ask the interviewer once they are done interviewing you. These questions should have answers that can not be found by researching the company website. Here are some questions my career coach gave me.

  1. What is the single largest problem facing your staff and how would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?
  2. What have you enjoyed most about working here?
  3. What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?

Essentially, your questions should be oriented towards addressing the needs of the client/company. If you can get the interviewer to talk for several minutes answering your question, then you are on the right track.

Application process

As one can see there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into a job search. Now, let's talk about the job application and interviewing process. I applied to over 100 jobs and ended up getting three in-person interviews and one telephone interview. When I applied for jobs I did a lot of what is commonly called cold applying. Essentially, I had LinkedIn send notifications of tech jobs that allegedly matched my skill set and geographic preferences. I say "allegedly" because after filtering through the matches I found that very few of these jobs closely matched my skill set. For me, cold applying was not very fruitful. I suspect others may share my experience. However, I found a case report on YouTube of someone getting a job by cold applying. Check this out: Does Cold Applying Even Work.

Here is where networking is key. I obtained two out of three interviews through networking. Even when I was cold applying, I would connect with the recruiter or hiring manager if the opportunity presented itself. Networking is not only good for obtaining employment, it is an opportunity to open yourself up to the outside world and to ask questions. Let's face it, sometimes I just feel lonely. Please, don't cry for me, not that you would. For me this is particularly important because after I left my previous career, I had essentially gone into self-imposed exile. However, I discovered the world of tech and rediscovered myself as a professional and a human being as well. It is good to come out of exile and into the light. Hell, it's good to be back.


Moving on to the interviews. I will not name any companies here except by a capitalized word representing a number. The first interview was with company One. I got acquainted with them during Career Week. Now company One is a recruit-train-hire type of company. These types of companies recruit prospective tech individuals who are subsequently trained for several weeks (usually 10-12) and then subcontracted to a client to work with them for a finite period of time (typically two years) on one or more projects. This allows companies to work with trained entry level talent. For those us with little to no work experience in the tech industry, it allows us to get the needed job experience, which is an upside. The downside is that the salary is typically below industry standard. As a person who knows what a six-figure salary looks like, I was willing to take a paycut for a foothold in the tech industry.

Interview with Company One:

Coming back to the first interview with One. Let's just say, it was an interesting experience. After applying, the first portion of the interview process was a coding challenge. There were three coding questions each with 20 minutes allotted to them. One of the questions was JavaScript, another was SQL, the third I do not know which language but I know it was one that I did not learn so I did not attempt that question. I got that magic two out of three questions done though and moved on to the next round. The next round was a technical interview. My recruiter gave me a cheat sheet to review Java and object oriented programming. That cheat sheet did not really help. I did not know Java at the time. The interview consisted of me presenting one of my projects, a few behavioral questions, and five technical questions. I spectacularly and hilariously failed the technical interview questions. I felt like I got knocked the hell out.

You got knocked out

Some of the questions that I remembered were as follows. Define the four pillars of object oriented programming. What is pass by reference vs pass by value? What is a self invoked function (I think the interviewer was referring to immediately invoked functions (IIFE))? Can you tell me the difference between SQL and NoSQL databases? Of course I would ace this interview now. The feedback from my recruiter is that I did fine on the behavioral portion of the interview and okay with the project presentation but I lacked technical knowledge. I do appreciate the feedback, especially since getting genuine feedback is rare. I was emphatically told by the recruiter that I would have another opportunity to redo the interview. However, when the time came I was essentially ghosted. Well, not totally, the recruiter gave me my next eligible interview date which is 3 months from the last one but when I reached out to schedule it I got crickets.

The One Phone Interview with EMR Company:

Subsequently, I had a phone interview with a well known electronic medical records company. This one I got by applying through LinkedIn. However, I wrote a nice cover letter alluding to my experience with EMR and reached out to a recruiter. I suspect that helped me land a phone interview. It seemed to go well but I did not make it to the next round. Well, on to the next.

Interview with Company Two:

I ended up getting an interview with company Two, also a recruit-train-hire type of company. The first round was phone interview. It was somewhat haphazard and brief. My recruiter for this company gave me a cheat sheet and had me schedule a technical assessment. It was on Java. I had started learning it, but I did not know enough. Again, that cheat sheet was not very helpful. I did not do well enough to be offered a position, but I was given the option of enrolling in a 10-week pre-employment program.

After having a discussion with my career coach, I enrolled in the pre-employment program after signing a non disclosure agreement (NDA). This program was essentially another bootcamp which mimics an employee training program except tuition-free and for 10 weeks. If it's free I'm down especially an all you can eat buffet of knowledge. It was also another pathway to employment if I successfully complete it. This was essentially a heaven sent opportunity which would become more apparent in the next two months. I learned Java, advanced SQL, and Spring Framework including Spring Boot. Also, I was able to learn about data structures, algorithms, unit testing with JUnit, and Mockito. After successfully completing the program I had a coding challenge with two Java challenges and one SQL challenge. The two Java challenges I passed, but failed the SQL one because I did not know how to do a self-join query (the one thing I did not practice). I sure as hell can do a self-join now. This is where failure is necessary for growth. There was also a video interview with two behavioral questions and four technical questions. My results were good enough that, I got an offer from the company. I was given seven days to sign the offer but I did not sign.

Let me explain my decision making. I benefited enormously from the pre-training program. It helped my ace my technical interview with another company that I interviewed with. I am grateful for that. Additionally, I networked with cool people and worked on projects with them. However, I felt that with company Two, I would be just another cog in the wheel. Furthermore, we never were allowed to get feedback on the assessments to learn from them. As a teacher, I feel that the purpose of assessments is not only to assess knowledge but to allow one to learn from their mistakes. I feel there is a greater interest in maintaining confidentiality than allowing the student to learn whey their answers were wrong. Lastly, there was too much uncertainty. These people want me to sign a contract to work with them without having a definite start date. I asked my recruiter one last time if there was an update on the start date. He told me that the tech market is down (I knew this already) and that they have never dealt with this type of situation before. In addition, he said it could be a few weeks to a few months before paid training starts, in such a matter of fact "I don't give a F@@k about you" tone. I said to myself "Thank you, I have made my decision." My response can be summed up with two words: "Bye Felicia."

Interview with Company Three:

Now for the good stuff. Let's talk about company Three. Now with company Three I met the recruiter at Career Week and had a one-on-one networking conversation with him. There was a connection there, the recruiter happens to live in Charlotte, North Carolina next to an ex-NFL kicker who played against the New England Patriots. I said "man, I like this guy already" (in a purely platonic way). Subsequently I applied to this company through the company website. In attempting to schedule a follow up interview, I found out he was on vacation for about three weeks. However, I was able to have a phone interview with his manager (another recruiter) and learn more about the company. She also mentioned that there was a hiring freeze at that time anyway.

My recruiter eventually came back from visiting his family overseas and we had that long awaited phone interview. It was like a continuation of the one-on-one networking interview but a little more formal.

The next step was a two-phase online assessment. The first phase was an aptitude test which consisted of 12 questions with a completion time of 60 minutes. The second phase was a video interview with strength-based (behavioral) questions with a total allotted time of 20 min. I was given 48 hours to complete both phases. I did well enough on this to move on to the (alleged) final interview. The feedback that I received was positive overall but I was told to do better with giving concrete examples.

The final interview was delayed due to the fact that there was a waitlist of candidates. I eventually got to the final interview about a month and a half later. And in case I forget, I got several online links from my recruiter, and one of them was a cheat sheet for the tech interview. This interview consisted of a behavioral interview and a technical interview. There were 7 or 8 other candidates that day. The behavioral interview went well. One of the questions that I was asked was about the importance of networking. The technical interview also went well, and guess what, it was on Java. Shocking, I know. During this time I was wrapping up the pre-employment program with company Two, so I knew Java now. The stars aligned. This interview went as well as any interview can go. The feedback from the recruiter was that did well overall and I got every question right on the technical interview. However, this was not the final interview.

I ended up having a final interview a week later with a sales team lead. I delivered my elevator pitch, told him about my EMR (Electronic Medical Records) prototype project Healthcare System Interface, and asked him what clients expect from their software engineers. I passed all rounds before all candidates were done interviewing and got an offer letter a week later. I was given four days to sign, and yes I did sign.

From the time I started applying to this company (early June) to getting the offer (early October) took around four months due to the delays resulting from hiring freezes and backlogged applicants. I persisted and held out. I felt like DJ Khaled, all I do is win.

All I do is win

Now why did I choose to sign with company Three over company Two? It certainly was not for the money. If anything, taking the best case scenario from each company, I could be making up to $15,000 less with the company that I signed with. However, that is the best case scenario. The reality is that more likely the pay is equivalent. Company Three always delivered on their promises and were forthcoming with information. Overall, they are true professionals. I had good chemistry with company Three and felt that we were a good fit for each other. They also have a working relationship with Flatiron school including a track record of hiring Flatiron alumni which adds credibility. They have award winning training. Lastly, they are internationally known and have a large client base. These are more than enough reasons to sign an offer with a good company.

My strategy as a job seeker was multifaceted. I prioritized becoming a software engineer by upskilling as much as the job application process itself. First of all, I felt that everything else would fall in line. Secondly, I did not want to get so wrapped up in the job application process that I forget to do the things that make me a software engineer. Third, I learned from my mistakes and constructive feedback. It is said that failure is the best teacher. I will take it a step further and say that failure is necessary for growth. This is where preparation meets opportunity. My experience got me to the point where I received two job offers and actually could pick which job I wanted. There are several takeaways from my experience as a job seeker. I enlisted the assistance of Chat GPT to help me articulate these points.

Takeaways based on my experience

1. Build a strong foundation: By enrolling at Flatiron School I gained a solid understanding of programming languages, algorithms, and data structures. After the boot camp ended, I prioritized upskilling and capitalized on an opportunity presented by a company pre employment program to become a better software engineer and a highly skilled and sought after candidate in the employment market.

2. Develop a portfolio: During boot camp I created a portfolio of projects that showcases my skills and abilities. After graduation I continued to revise my portfolio by refactoring my projects and adding projects. Having a portfolio demonstrates your practical experience to potential employers. It is your "job" experience.

3. Gain practical experience: Through the pre-employment program, I did not only gain additional coding experience but I also learned about the software development cycle including Agile and Waterfall methodology. Other ways to gain practical experience include hackathons, open source projects, and internships.

4. Networking: I networked extensively during Career Week which resulted in two job offers. Even now, I connect with fellow alumni and others in the tech field as well as recruiters.

5. Polish your resume and online presence: My resume went through a constant series of revisions. In addition, I tailored my resume based on a specific job listing, especially if I was really interested in that job. I also continued to update my LinkedIn profile and I showcased my portfolio on GitHub and my own portfolio website.

6. Prepare for interviews: I practiced coding challenges, reviewed common interview questions, and prepared to discuss my projects and problem-solving approaches. Mock interviews with my career coach helped build my confidence. Every job interview is an opportunity to practice.

7. Apply strategically: Research companies that align with your interests and values. Tailor your application materials to each job posting, emphasizing how your skills and experiences make you a good fit for the role.

Remember, getting a job in tech takes time, preparation, perseverance, hard work, and networking. Know who you are. Develop that confidence. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how badass you are. Go out there and show them who you are. Now go get that job!

Top comments (0)