From Doctor to Developer

Wait a minute ! I am not a medical doctor at all but a doctor in History of Art. You probably wonder why I made a career change and transition into the tech industry.

Academic and professional journey

After high school in the late 90s, I wanted to st…


This content originally appeared on DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻 and was authored by Puthpiseth TUN

Wait a minute ! I am not a medical doctor at all but a doctor in History of Art. You probably wonder why I made a career change and transition into the tech industry.

Academic and professional journey

After high school in the late 90s, I wanted to study computer science but I didn’t work out. Born into a modest family in Cambodia, my parents couldn’t afford to pay this university tuition. I ended up learning archaeology as a scholarship student.

In 2007, I got a scholarship from a French Embassy to Cambodia to pursue my master’s degree in France. It was an honor for my whole family. Then I continued my doctoral degree in History of Art at Sorbonne University. I had been doing some odd jobs such as a wedding photographer, an ice-cream and cosmetics seller, a translator and so on. I almost dropped out of my study in the third year due to lack of time and a loss of interest. However, I kept up my motivation to finish it up in 2015.

Later, in 2016, I got a job offer as a director of Academic Affairs and a lecturer in History of Khmer Art at Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I was working there for almost three years. It didn’t go well as planned and I was nearly burnt out. In 2019, my wife and I decided to move to France with our children to seek a new opportunity. To be honest, it was a very hard decision to make.

Time and Space

I have been asked a lot about my transition into the tech industry. Why now ? My answer is that “it was the right time and the right place”. I didn’t hesitate for a second to make up my mind to do it even though some of my friends told me that it is impossible.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was looking for a coding Bootcamp for several months. It is quite expensive for a five or six months course so that I gave it a try for self-taught programming. I spent hours watching tutorial videos to learn to code for a few months. It didn’t turn out well and didn’t catch up that much, quite frankly. I told myself that I couldn’t keep doing that. “It was not the right time and not the right place”.

At the end of 2020, I finally found Simplon, a coding Bootcamp, where I took a seven-months intensive course of Javascript and its framework, Agile Methodology and Opquast. It is actually free of charge. I was lucky to be picked to attend this Bootcamp. “That was the right time and the right place”.I would like to thank to Simplon for this enormous opportunity. You make my dreams come true.

How I succeed my coding Bootcamp

You have to understand what Bootcamp is. By definition, it is like a military training camp. You should be prepared to face all kinds of intensive aspects: discipline, stress, anxiety, frustration, excitement, distraction and so on.

Motivation has been my number one priority and a positive impact on my life. During this Bootcamp, I motivated myself and my classmates to keep moving forward whatever happened.

My goal was already defined before I joined this Bootcamp in order to achieve it, land a job as a developer and show my children that nothing is impossible. It doesn’t sound as easy as I thought at all. However, I focused on what I am doing and avoided any distractions.

Teamwork was also a part of my success. There have been ups and downs and I have learnt a lot during that time : project management, patience, humility, helping one another and sharing knowledge. I was probably not good at code but I tried all my best to manage my team to achieve each project under any circumstances. I didn’t compare myself to them but learnt from their logic and critical thinking and how they structured their code.

Side projects were the best coding practices to develop my skills. I have learnt problem-solving on each and every project.

Pseudo code was a part of the process of writing a plain text before I started to code. It helped me a lot in terms of code structure.

Code documentation was so important for my whole learning process at Simplon. Most of my projects were documented.

My hardwork has finally paid off and I got my software development certification.

Photo by JAB_BOX on Unsplash

How I landed my job as junior developer

For my first few months of Bootcamp, I updated my Curriculum Vitae and Linkedin profile. I also focused on building networks by connecting with the developer community on Linkedin. I wrote a few lines on my profile twice a week to show my motivation and communication skills. It worked pretty well. I began to get information and shares related to the tech industry. However, it is not as easy as it sounds when I started to apply for a job. I received uncountable rejection emails from recruiters saying that “Your profile is very impressive. Unfortunately, your experience and qualifications do not match our needs at this time but we will keep your resume on file”. I did not give up. I think that rejection in the job search is just a part of the process and a sign of progress. If you are not applying, it means there is no progress. “Where there is a will, there is a way”.

Until the end of April, I received an email from Matthieu FAUDEMER, HR manager, who is now my colleague, looking for a Javascript developer to join Koji. My first of six interviews was scheduled with him, then with the four co-founders of Koji. All my interviews went extraordinarily well, including the take-home coding test. I still didn’t think that I was going to get a job. The last interview, Culture fit, was with the team that I might be working with. A week later, Tristan De Oliveira, CTO and one of the co-founders, called me and said that “ Well, in terms of your technical skills, it is quite difficult for you as a junior developer to start a journey with us “. My heart started pounding. Then he waited a few seconds before saying “ It is feasible and welcome to Koji ‘’. I was speechless. I would say it felt like a dream and was an unforgettable moment. Twenty-two years later, my dream to become a computer programmer has finally come true. As I mentioned above, It was “Time and Space” with the right time and the right place.

Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash

This article comes to an end but my new journey begins…

A career change requires a lot of sacrifices and time. We sometimes need a break before we start a new career. My journey has been a roller-coaster ride through struggles and triumphs. It is actually the beginning of my new journey as a junior developer. There are so many things to learn. I appreciate what I have accomplished though. I have never been so happy to do what I like the most. I wake up every morning filled with joy and satisfaction. I am lucky enough to work with an amazing Koji team. Human values are a key part of Koji culture, which I highly recommend you to read the articles of Tristan Namur https://lnkd.in/gFQAH8fv and Adélaïde Bouget https://lnkd.in/g3mZC9G.

I would like to share with you my personal thoughts and experience. Motivation, perseverance and patience can break through all the obstacles.


This content originally appeared on DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻 and was authored by Puthpiseth TUN


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