Hey y’all! For this month’s Day in the Life, we’re featuring Voniel Brown, a software engineer apprentice at Codecademy! Voniel shares with us how after college he left finance to pursue something more meaningful to him – coding. When Voniel is not coding, he enjoys listening to sci-fi/fantasy audiobooks, taking morning walks, and learning something new in the ever-changing world of technology.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi everyone! My name is Voniel Brown, and I’m a software engineering apprentice at Codecademy. I was born in Jamaica but I moved to the US when I was 8 years old and now live in Brooklyn. I love listening to audiobooks specifically sci-fi/fantasy, my favorite series right now is the Stormlight Archive. Before becoming a software engineer, I graduated with a finance degree which I then realized it was not what I wanted to explore as a career. After attending a Bootcamp to learn how to become an engineer I started at Codecademy in September.
How did you end up working for Codecademy?
During college, I was a member of the National Association of Black Accountants, and its motto of “Lifting as we Climb” always resonated with me. I wanted to make sure that I had a career as I grow and develop, I can help others around to achieve the same success that I have. Codecademy is the perfect company to achieve my goal and live as close to the motto as possible.
Did you always want to be a Software Engineer?
I was always fascinated by how technology connected people together and made so many things that were thought to be impossible a possibility. When I was younger it was always a mystique to me. My real interest in becoming a software engineer peeked when I was in high school and one of my friends introduced me to c++. It was truly fascinating to see the programs that he wrote, and it was especially amazing to help him work on his robot projects. After that experience showed me the possibilities that software engineering offered. As well as the thrill of building something and seeing it work, I knew I wanted to become a software engineer.
What are the best aspects about working as a Software Engineer?
One of the best aspects of working as a software engineer is that no two days are ever usually the same. Each new day provides an opportunity to try something new, even if you stuck on the same problem. There are often many different ways to solve an issue or squash a bug. I find it exhilarating to explore the different ways to find the best solution. It is also very fulfilling to see your work come together and your code is deployed to production.
What are the worst aspects about working as a Software Engineer?
One of the worst aspects of software engineering is that it is very easy to feel imposter syndrome. It is a wide and expansive field with so many new things to learn that at times you might feel like you don’t know enough or there is something that you are missing. It is also very easy to lose track of time, especially when you have a bug that you are on the verge of solving.
If you could make one piece of fictional tech reality, what would it be?
The Epstein drive from the Expanse. With it I would be able to travel the stars hopefully avoiding the protomolecule. When I was younger I wanted to be an aerospace engineer to make the spaceships that would allow humans to colonize other planets.
Do you have any advice for the learners?
When there is something that you truly can’t understand, don’t be afraid to seek out help. There were many times during my bootcamp that I was completely stumped by a problem. I was afraid to ask questions because I wrongfully believed that it would make me look silly that I could not understand. I was constantly banging my head against the wall because I could not understand on my own. I finally realized that I did not need to perfectly understand everything. There were people that were willing to help me in my journey. The more questions that you ask the better your understanding will be.
If you could make one brand new course what would it be?
Building a project with Golang. While our course on Go was an amazing introduction to the language I wanted to get more hands-on experience using the language within our platform. I would love to see more hands-on projects with Go, especially with our new portfolio projects.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I tend to wake up early in the morning which I used to hate but now I learned to make the best of it. After waking up I like to read bits of the news while eating breakfast. Since I am currently working from home it is very easy to stay in my room all day. So after breakfast sometimes I like to go out for a walk to the park to get some fresh air and sunlight, clear my head and get ready for the rest of the day.
After a quick shower, it’s right around time for my team to post our daily standup to get a sense of each member’s progress on our tickets. I always try to carve out time to explore a new part of the codebase to try to learn something new every day. With the rest of the day reserved for working on my individual ticket or any team meetings, pairing sessions that might come up.