Blog transformation, life changes, my first steps in becoming a software developer.

Hey everyone,

I have decided to transform this blog and the Studtor project. I debated between starting an entirely new blog to keep track of my progress and life at the Turing School of Software Design and just transforming Studtor. At the end of the day, I really felt personal about my blog posts and content here on the Studtor project and so I decided to just keep the content but transfigure the blog itself for personal use. 

I recently joined the Turing School of Software Design! I first found out about the school through coworkers of mine at Kitchensurfing who enrolled in an earlier iteration of it years ago called Hungry Academy out in DC. Oh DC, how I miss your grits and fried chicken/waffles. The school originally was a collaborative project between Jeff Casimir and the kind folks over at LivingSocial who were in need of software engineers. The school enrolled 20-something 20-somethings and hired all of them immediately after they graduated. At face value, the school seems like a fantastic investment of time and effort. While doing further research, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with several former Hungry students while at Kitchensurfing and they not only seemed like fully competent programmers with past careers in software consultancies and startups, but also they were helpful, open, kind, and way more conversational and creative than my former coworkers in finance. They noticed my interest in Python and encouraged me to take the next step forward in my life/career.

It seemed like ages ago that I was an equities and derivatives trader in NYC. As time passes, I have only begun to be able to push aside the regret and ill-feelings that I’ve had towards the industry and former bosses. I think I understand a lot of where my discontent from that industry came from. I wanted academic rigor, the opportunity to self-improve, endless learning and interest in my field, and the technical knowledge and ability to create a good service and quality work that could help others. Trading really had none of those. In fact, trading was perhaps the most soul-crushing, depressing and corrupt industry I’ve ever been a part of. High management fees, trading profits that were earned in the most valueless and mind-numbing ways, and bank accounts were the only drivers of its people. I simply wasn’t ready to acquiesce my life to that standard. After writing this, I can hardly believe it has taken me 2 years to only begin to see that my decision to depart was for the best.

But onto software. What draws me to software? I was a philosophy major at Amherst, I enjoy behavioral psych papers and books in my free time, and I think I’ve very much embraced my humanities background. So, what gives? Why programming? Strangely enough, my path into programming feels only natural. I’ve only worked in industries where software has been the backbone of success. I would have been incapable of critical insights without PokerTracker, Rmetrics, and my numerous trading and poker tools. Those simple and user-friendly and insight-creating pieces of software are no simple task to create. They needed to be able to run huge Monte Carlo simulations, import data from exchanges in real micro-second time, and communicate with the stock exchanges in terms of buy-sell and algorithmic orders. The software, and not the people using it, were the real drivers of success.

Also, I noticed that I love skill-building. I take a lot of satisfaction and pride in the skills that I’ve learned in my life so far. It makes me quite happy that I can play tennis, poker, speak Chinese, write thesis papers in academic philosophy, play the piano, and understand trading markets. By the way, I ranked those skills in order of value and expertise. But in aggregate, these skills make up who I am and are a lot of my story. I’d like to add to that story.

I look forward to meeting and learning with the people out in Turing. I’ve always had high standards for organizations that I’ve joined and I probably will be no different from Turing. However, I realize what I get out of an educational organization is what I put into it and from what I’ve heard, Turing is a well-run and high-level non-profit school. I chose to say “school” and not “business” because I think it’s only fair. Turing’s non-profit status and the background of its teachers in TFA and charter schools speak highly to me and suggest its management is more concerned about pedagogy than profits. It’s refreshing to see to say the least.

Anyway, my subsequent blog posts may be more technical in nature than this one. I will probably be posting more about what I’m learning in the near future. But I first wanted to lay out my mindset going into software engineering school. This is a big change in my life and a big career step for me and I think I just wanted to share…I look forward to continue sharing.

Written on November 16, 2014