How Esther Kim went from Technical Recruiter to Support Engineer

Toward the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Esther Kim was laid off from her job as a technical recruiter. She used her new-found time to build an e-commerce business on Shopify, which led to her interest in web development.

After taking the leap and enrolling in our Beginner Coding Bootcamp, she’s now a Support Engineer at Smartrr, where’s she’s the initial point of contact for technical support for the engineering team. We recently caught up with Esther to ask about her new role, her bootcamp experience, and the advice she has for others who are thinking about changing careers.

How did you become interested in software engineering?

My path into software engineering was quite non-traditional. Initially, I ventured into the tech industry as a technical recruiter. At the beginning of the pandemic, my team and I were laid off so I took that opportunity to build my own e-commerce business on Shopify. That experience sparked my interest in coding and website development, leading me to dive headfirst into software engineering with Hack Reactor.

What drew you to the Hack Reactor program? What did you get out of your time in the program?

Hack Reactor caught my attention due to the numerous success stories I heard from peers. The program excelled in demystifying both fundamental and complex concepts, providing a solid foundation for further growth. Engaging in collaborative projects with fellow engineers provided hands-on experience in essential software engineering practices, fostering a real-world tech environment.

I also met a lot of wonderful classmates – some of whom I still keep in touch with today! Ultimately, you get out what you put in, so I would encourage those who are interested in joining to be ready for the workload and have a growth mindset!

Congrats on your new role at Smartrr! What is your role like?

I’m currently a Support Engineer at Smartrr, the leading brand for subscriptions within the Shopify ecosystem. In this multifaceted position, I serve as the initial point of contact for technical support within our engineering team, addressing any issues our customers and clients encounter.

The diversity of my daily tasks keeps the work engaging and varied so every day is different and exciting! My day-to-day involves helping implement and write custom code to display our subscription widget within merchant stores, migrating customers into our application, and delving into bugs. Each day offers a new opportunity to solve problems and enhance our platform’s user experience.

What do you like about being a Support Engineer? What challenges have you faced so far?

I thoroughly enjoy the diversity of my role, allowing me to engage with the Shopify ecosystem, work on an exceptional product, and collaborate with a fantastic team. I’ve learned a lot in the short amount of time I’ve been here so far, and I really enjoy the blend of work I have, which involves coding, troubleshooting, and talking to merchants! I’m particularly grateful for the opportunity to participate in my company’s software engineering mentorship program, where I collaborate on engineering tasks and delve deeper into our codebase with an awesome mentor!

The steep learning curve was a challenge initially, especially grasping the intricacies of our database and app functionality. However, the continuous learning and supportive team environment have been incredibly rewarding.

What’s your work environment like (hybrid/in-person/remote)?

I am currently fully remote in southern California. My company is based in New York City so we have a mix of hybrid and remote teammates! Although I enjoy working with my teammates in person, I also really enjoy working remotely because I’m able to be more efficient at my work by having my setup ready to work any time!

You took an internship after the bootcamp and before landing your role at Smatrr. How was that experience?

The internship was a good experience to collaborate with others in building out portions of the application. I was part of the front-end team, so I learned a lot about best practices and different frameworks to add to my engineering toolkit! I’d recommend others looking for jobs post-bootcamp to take any opportunity that presents itself as we can always learn something from every experience.

How was the job search process for you?

Post-bootcamp, I maintained a structured daily agenda, prioritizing coding to keep my skills sharp. I divided my time into applying for jobs, studying and practicing data structures and algorithms for interviews, and working on smaller side projects to help retain and grow from what I learned during bootcamp. Career Services helped by sharing useful resources like Huntr, a job tracking app to help me manage all of my applications neatly in one place.

Do you have any advice for incoming students who are about to start the bootcamp?

My advice is to fully commit to the process. Treat the bootcamp as a significant investment in yourself and your future, requiring both time and effort. Engage deeply with the coursework and practice explaining concepts simply to solidify your understanding. While it’s an intensive journey, embracing it and enjoying the learning process is key to building a strong foundation. A growth mindset with a positive attitude goes a long way!


Ready to launch your software engineering career?

Follow Esther’s footsteps toward the Beginner Coding Bootcamp. Kickstart the admissions process by taking a 15-minute Aptitude Test.