Hey Allie! Thanks for sharing about your experience as a Code Fellows instructor. You made a career switch into programming—what were you doing before you become a developer?
I was a science professor in Ohio. I taught Anatomy & Physiology for nursing and pre-med students at Kent State University. When I moved to Washington, I wanted to continue teaching in a STEM field but was ready to move on from higher education. Teaching at Code Fellows has been the perfect blend of my background as a professor and my programming skills.
How did you first get started in software development?
My first job in tech was as a web developer at a startup called Joy, which crafts beautiful wedding websites. One of my responsibilities was helping brides and grooms personalize their websites with custom designs. I was working in an agile development environment and gained a lot from that experience, but really wanted to level up my skills so I could create even more customized designs for couples.
One of my coworkers, an engineer at Joy, was a graduate of Code Fellows and highly recommended it. As soon as I set foot on campus, I knew I had made the right choice. I knew the program would be tough but I never expected to join such a supportive community.
And now you get to help create that supportive community for others! What courses do you teach?
I teach Code 201: Foundations of Software Development and Code 301: Intermediate Software Development.
Code 201 students are often novice coders—what are some of the most common struggles you see as they wrap their minds around material that’s completely foreign to them?
There are certain programming topics that students struggle with, but more than that, there are mental struggles to overcome. Many students have a lot on the line and have made serious sacrifices to enroll. That can lead to doubt and second-guessing their decision. A lot of us experience imposter syndrome, which is the feeling that we can’t stack up compared to our peers. Getting over the self-doubt can be the hardest part.
Does the fact that you were once in their shoes affect how you teach the material?
Yes, absolutely! Empathy goes a long way. I am more aware of the common pitfalls our students tend to face and I know exactly how it feels to fail at first. I can also assure my students that it will be okay, they will continue to grow and become stronger coders, and they will build amazing things.
What’s your favorite part of teaching here?
The best part about teaching is the light bulb moment when a concept makes sense to a student and it clicks. It always amazes me to see a student struggle with a concept at first, then fully grasp it just a few days later. Being a part of that learning process is extremely rewarding.
As former university professor, what do you appreciate about the education style at Code Fellows?
In an undergraduate setting, some students are enrolled because they feel pressured to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Sometimes their parents have pressured them into taking certain classes. They don’t always feel passionate about the course or about college as a whole.
Code Fellows is different. Students are here because they want to be here and want to change their lives. This process is transformative and I see so much individual growth over just a few weeks. With this format, I get to interact with more students, learn their names, get to know them as individuals, and see them grow. In an undergraduate setting, I could have a semester-long course of 250 students and hardly know any of them. At Code Fellows, I get to know all of my students and interact with them closely every day.
What new advancements in tech are you most excited about right now?
It is fascinating to see the advancements in accessibility to features that used to only be available to large enterprises. For example, anyone can easily access cloud computing resources on AWS or Azure with low overhead. Technology moves at a rapid pace, so who knows what will be next!
Anything else you’d like to share with new coders who are thinking of joining your Code 201 class?
Just try it! It can be scary to start something new, but you are more capable than you think. Code Fellows is an amazing community. We will exhaust all of our resources to give you the support you need.
If you’d like to try programming for a day, join us in an upcoming Code 101 workshop near you!