Meet Rob: From Math Teacher to Software Design Engineer

Meet Rob Reed! He started learning to code as a math teacher to make lessons more visual for his students, and realized he loved the challenge coding presented. Read how he made the most of his time on campus, what he loves about the tech industry, and how he became a Software Design Engineer at Concur.

Hi Rob! Thanks for sharing your story with us today. Let’s start off with some background on your recent career change. What were you doing before becoming a software developer?

Before jumping into the world of software development I was a high school math teacher and instructional designer.

What made you decide to transition into coding, and why Code Fellows?

I started coding as a means to make my math lessons more visual and intuitive. I found that it challenged me in new ways and provided endless opportunities to learn. I had been self-studying JavaScript and Python in my free time, but felt like I was missing some key foundational knowledge. While researching the various bootcamps in the area, I was impressed by my discussions with the admissions staff at Code Fellows and found that their educational philosophy aligned with my own.

How so?

My main take away from those conversations was their belief in the power of a growth mindset. When making a career transition like this, it is amazing how significant something like that can be. With the right mindset it was possible to learn an incredible amount in a relatively short period of time.

What was your favorite project you built during your program?

Definitely my 401 final project. My team and I built a real-time polling app using Socket.IO. In one week we went from just an idea to a fully functioning web-app. We pushed ourselves further than we knew we were capable of and learned a lot along the way.

After you graduated, you spent some time as a TA. Did that affect your understanding of coding?

Absolutely. You’ll never understand something as well as you think you do until you try to teach it. Being a TA not only helped me to solidify my own understandings, it also presented me with the same curriculum taught from a different lens. It was a great experience for me and I highly recommend it to other graduates.

Congrats on your new job at Concur! Tell us about your job search and interview process.

Thanks! My job search centered around taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the Career Accelerator Program at Code Fellows. I jumped on every mock interview, informational session, and hackathon that I could. The mock interviews are a great way to practice articulating your ideas in a more formal setting, and is what ultimately led to my interview with Concur.

What’s been most surprising about your new career?

How open and supportive everyone has been. Transitioning into a new career like this can be daunting, and it’s easy to feel like an imposter. I’ve been blown away by how welcoming everyone has been, both at Concur and in the community as a whole, and am very thankful for all of the support that I’ve received.

Teaching and software development seem unrelated, but I’m guessing there are skills you learned as a teacher that you’re still using in your new career. Do you find that to be the case?

Going through my teacher education program gave me a lot of background and theory, but didn’t prepare me to teach math specifically. In order to prepare for my lessons I had to put in countless hours of prep. Each day was filled with research, planning, and execution. I got better through this process, and this is ultimately what I did at Code Fellows and what I’m doing now. The world of software development is vast. You’re never finished learning, and that excites me.

If someone was considering a career change similar to the one you made, what would you tell them?

If you’re serious about it, lean into it. The new ideas and technologies that you’ll be exposed to in class are just the beginning. To really understand these concepts you have to dive deep. You have to push yourself to take the content further, to try new things for the sake of trying, and to seek out answers to your own questions. This is definitely a situation where you get out what you put in.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Lean on your classmates. You’re all in this together, and the more you can support each other the better. If you do this right, you can leave Code Fellows with more than just an understanding of software development.

Thanks for sharing your insight, Rob!

If you’d like to learn more about the path that Rob took to start his new career, join us in an upcoming Code 101 »

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