After a bit more than a year at the job, I’m still learning new things all the time and I have a sense of a lot of open possibilities that will afford continuous opportunities for learning new things — I still don’t know where this adventure will take me in the next few years, but I feel like the possibilities … will be fun, satisfying ones, and I like the sense that I am still in the midst of an adventure. —David Lewine, software engineer at Jana
David LeWine has always had a “why not?” approach to life. While he was waiting to hear back from the law school, a friend convinced him to get a job as a longliner fisherman off the coast of Alaska. He spent a year going out to sea for four to five weeks at a time before turning his attention back to his law degree. During his second year, he found that his adventurous spirit and the thrill of fishing had gotten under his skin, so he left school and began working as a commercial fisher for the next decade.
Following his fishing career, David ventured back to New York City where he earned a high school teaching certificate and began teaching math at a public school in East Harlem. He leaned on his background in computer science to volunteer for his school’s robotics club. Soon enough, this experience inspired him to dive deeper into coding—he accepted a job at a private school in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he taught high-school level computer science, engineering, and chemistry over a 12-year teaching career.
While teaching at the private school, David found himself growing more interested in creating software tools for his students than in the actual teaching. It was this passion, coupled with his drive to have new experiences, that led him to ask himself, Why not try software engineering as a full-time career? Soon, he found himself in our
In retrospect, David acknowledges that someone in his same shoes could have accomplished a similar career change from education without enrolling in a coding bootcamp, but it would have taken a level of perseverance and self-motivation he says he couldn’t have sustained on his own.
I needed the structure; I needed a task-master at times; I needed the Startup Institute network and I needed to immerse myself—through the group project at a Startup Institute partner company, the fireside chats, and the community of fellow students across all four skills tracks—in order to really be able to grasp what it was I was trying to do. I needed all of that in order to take the steps to accomplish the career change I initially envisioned.
David choose the web development course because it most directly applied to his existing skills and his career goals, but what attracted him to our web development course in particular was the chance to work closely to students in other the skills tracks—web design, digital marketing, and sales and account management. He explains that the support he received from the Startup Institute community at large was a huge contributor to his positive experience in the program. “It gave me a real sense of well-being and a sense that I was doing the right thing in taking the leap and trying to make a career change from education,” he told us. “[The community] made the anxiety and self-doubts I think we all felt much easier to bear.”
While David’s career trajectory had taken him from the seas of Alaska to the classrooms of East Harlem, he says that these experiences fully prepared him for his current position as a software engineer at Jana. His relentless drive gained from being a fisherman, and leadership knowledge acquired as a teacher, have both proven to be effective, writing code that not only works but is good from the profession’s point of view.
David says that, particularly in web development, companies want to train you. Yet, they also expect people to learn quickly and independently.
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