Charlie Depman made his way to Product School after teaching engineering at Scoot Networks. He was excited to return to teaching students programming because he feels “Programming empowers students to build apps, websites, systems, games, etc. with nothing more than a laptop and a bit of imagination.”
Charlie has taught Products School’s Coding for Managers Course. The school also offers Product Management and Data Analytics for Managers courses as well. Find out what qualities he feels make up the ideal Product School student and learn more about what he does on a regular basis in our interview:
Your background is in Computer Science. What specific skills from this background help you to help future web developers?
My background is actually in Chinese language and environmental activism. I did coursework in Computer Science at NYU Shanghai and UC Berkeley while I was teaching myself to code. Berkeley’s CS61A was one of the best and most impactful courses I have ever taken. The TAs carefully guided students in breaking down complex problems into small, manageable chunks and did a great job visualizing the processing of code by the interpreter. In that course, I learned to approach problem-solving as a computer scientist, which I practice in teaching–breaking down concepts and terms into their more manageable constituent parts for students. Part of my love for teaching comes from my father. He is an ER doctor who is great at explaining complex – often scary – problems and situations to people in a calm manner in layman's terms.
How did you end up teaching at Product School? What was your journey?
I was contacted by Carlos [CEO of Product School] while working on the engineering team at Scoot Networks and was excited to teach again. I knew I enjoyed teaching from a previous job teaching web development at Moringa School in Nairobi, Kenya and from working on the instruction team at Hack Reactor in San Francisco. One of the reasons I love teaching programming is that it empowers students to build apps, websites, systems, games, etc. with nothing more than a laptop and a bit of imagination. You can build applications that are simple or complex: software can delight your friends or change how people interact with each other and with the world. The possibilities are endless.
Do you feel students without a formal technology background can succeed at Product School?
Absolutely. The coding portion may seem formidable but I think most people can do it - it takes patience, focus, and a basic understanding of logic. Coding is like writing a set of instructions: the instructions need to be crystal clear otherwise the computer won’t know what to do. I started teaching myself to code with nothing to speak of in terms of a tech background - in fact, I think more people from non-traditional backgrounds should get involved in tech and bring their experiences and knowledge to help diversify the field.
What qualities do you find make up the most ideal student for Product School?
An eagerness to learn and an inquisitive mind. You should be in class with the goal of acquiring new knowledge and skills to improve your current professional abilities or strengthen your set of professional tools to get that next job. Being able to tie concepts and knowledge learned in class into the context of your job or desired job is very powerful. In the case of the Coding for Managers Course course, you can improve your skills as a data-driven, technical manager who is more confident when talking about software with your team.
What do you consider the strongest parts of the Product School curriculum?
How many students have you seen graduate the program?
I have seen several cohorts graduate. My first class was fairly small, but it grew to more than double the next cohort.
What is your favorite success story?
Do you have any advice for future students?
Coding may seem intimidating, but in some ways, it’s similar to learning a new language. You have to be patient and memorize a few things and practice. Once you’ve got the basics, you can start being creative in how you express yourself. Even if you do not know much beyond the basics, you can communicate on a different level with the developers you work with.
Do you have any advice for students who have already graduated?
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