How One Student Became a Software Engineer Remotely from South Korea

Posted by Flatiron School Students  /  October 15, 2019

Monika Williams Blogg

Job Seeking With Savvy


Meet Monika Williams, a Florida-based, recent Flatiron School online graduate who recently joined MotionPoint as a Junior Solutions Engineer. Before starting the online program at Flatiron School, Monika Williams had earned a degree in Animal Science and taught English in France, leading to another opportunity to teach in South Korea. Monika ended up living and working in Korea for over 3 years, and it was during this time she discovered her passion for coding and decided she wanted to make the transition to a career in tech. Once she made the commitment to enroll in Flatiron School, she immediately began planning for the great future she envisioned for herself, as a tech professional living and working in the U.S. again. Though she was far from home and in a time zone that made connecting with her peers and instructors difficult, these obstacles did not prevent her from completing the program while still in Korea and then getting her job search off to a powerful start before her plane home had even landed!

How did you first start mapping out your future U.S. job search while you were still living and working in Korea?

I had a really solid plan with how I would approach my job search from the start, but my biggest concern was how I would tackle networking. I knew networking would be really hard because I initially would not be able to attend meetups regularly, I didn’t have any connections to the tech industry, and I am really introverted. So rather than let the networking aspect of the job search overwhelm me, I decided to play to my strengths and work really hard sourcing job opportunities on my own that I believed I was a good fit for by searching deeper than just Indeed, and also Googling the exact opportunities I was looking for and finding them.

Monika Williams Quotee

What was it like returning to the U.S. and starting your job search in earnest?

It was exciting – I was confident I was a good candidate because I was so open to living anywhere in the U.S., and I had an interesting background. I felt like employers would respond to me and that I would have very little issue finding a position. For the most part I was right. I had a good number of interviews in the short time that I was job searching, but I also had a lot of rejections that definitely humbled me and made me realize it’s definitely gotten harder to get employers to take a chance on you, even when they like you personally.

You were so great at sourcing your own opportunities – what tips do you have for other job seekers on how to do that?

I’ve always been really good with utilizing in-depth research to find opportunities. A lot of people will search for something and only read the first or second page of a Google search, but I tend to continue reading all the way up to the 33rd page. You’d be surprised at the hidden blog posts, job ads, and overall information that is buried deep within the Google search index. At the beginning of my job search I found so many apprenticeships that aren't advertised on typical sources by Googling things like “software development apprenticeship” “Ruby on Rails apprenticeship” or “Web development apprenticeship.” Even if the apprenticeship was from 2016, the contact information was still available to follow up with the company on when the next upcoming apprenticeship would be. I also played to my strengths and searched for job opportunities that specifically encouraged minorities and women in tech to apply and opportunities that matched either my animal science, international, or teaching background. It's also a good idea to be open to positions in tech with titles outside of "Software Engineer" "Front-End Developer" and "Full Stack Developer" because there are a lot of positions with different titles that still involve coding and can be a foot in the door at a tech company.

What was the break-through in your job search that led you to find your current position?

I think I had a really successful job search overall which included interviewing with a total of 14 companies and ultimately receiving 2 offers during the same week. My current employer actually found me on Linkedin! A recruiter read my bio, was impressed with my international work experience, and asked if I would be interested in hearing about a position she was trying to fill at a tech company in the area I happened to be staying in. So I really suggest listening to your career coach’s advice and putting effort into making your LinkedIn profile page professional!

What are your current responsibilities in your new role?

When a customer is considering signing up for MotionPoint, I act as the primary technical lead, working alongside the enterprise sales team. My job is to articulate complex technical topics and show them the value of our product by running demos. I am also responsible for designing and documenting workflows customers can use, building proof-of-concepts, and running integration review sessions.

What words of encouragement do have for soon-to-be Flatiron School grads starting their job hunt?

A quote that really resonated with me while I was searching: "If your goal is to land your dream job – or just get your first job  – play the game and take more risks. It is up to the hiring firm to disqualify you, it’s not your job. Somebody is going to be the benefactor of randomness, it may as well be you." That one’s from Ben of the Practical Dev.

Monika’s Career Coach Diana DeCubellis on why Monika was so successful at sourcing job leads for herself:

“Monika is incredibly resourceful and adapts readily to whatever circumstances she finds herself within. This personal savvy allowed her to discover sources for job leads that many of her peers were overlooking. She made good judgement calls about what were the right opportunities to pursue, and worked harder and dug deeper then many job seekers do.”