Reflections on my time at the Turing School of Software Design, and my life after.

7 months ago, at the start of my time at the Turing School of Software Design, I wrote this post: My Start at the Turing School

I was excited to start my education in programming and computer science, but also scared and uncertain about the quality of the school and my interest in programming. After all, I was a philosophy major from a liberal arts school whose career was in the non-technical field of financial trading (an industry where intellect runs low but arrogance runs high… see anything written my Nassim Taleb). Although I was uncertain about where my efforts would take me, I was ready to learn.

And man, did I learn. Now here I am, 7 months later. 

Before I go into what I think about my education and the Turing School as a whole, let me first intro myself as someone who hates bullshit and appreciates plain speak. I am an individual with thoughts that are my own and nothing I write here has been influenced by any instructor, investor, or founder at the school. One thing I really dislike about Glassdoor and Yelp and any other review site is the inherent bias in the review process. The only people who seem to post on Yelp are people with extremely polarized views, and I believe people who are upset have a greater tendency to vent than the content. I’d wager that yelp reviews skew lower than if the reviews were from randomly selected individuals. Glassdoor, on the other hand, seems to have a huge upward skew problem where employers pressure their employees to write glowing reviews (or at least they pull a new or soon-departing employee aside and have them write a glowing review). For example, take a look at these reviews of this company: Trillium Trading. The average rating is not only several standard deviations away from the mean, the reviews seem to take a similar form and were all written within a very brief period of time. So let me be clear and separate myself from the typical company review: I have decided to write this post on my own volition and these words are my own.

Anyway, my thoughts and verdict: I am a believer that 7 months is certainly not enough time to make me an expert in anything, especially for something as mentally demanding as computer programming. But, thanks to the Turing School of Software Design, I not only have a solid foundation to build future learning on, but I also have a hirable intermediate skill for the first time in my career. I am a programmer, and the skill belongs to me. Most of all, I loved my time at the school and the community there.

For 7 months straight, I studied Ruby, Javascript, and their related frameworks of Ruby on Rails, Sinatra, and Angular. I built mock applications, solved sorting algorithms, read source code for Ruby and Javascript, implemented traditional computer science problems like binary search trees and linked lists in Ruby, learned about Big-O notation, recursion applications, caching, and databases queries in SQL and ActiveRecord. I also built applications while consuming real data through APIs like Google’s QPX flight data API, and the US government’s census API. For 7 months, I lived code, and I dreamt in code.

Where has this work gotten me? Well, in my 6th month at Turing, I obtained a job as a software developer and teacher at a startup school/talent accelerator called Andela which teaches Africans how to program while paying them a middle class wage. I left my finance career to partake in more interesting and worthwhile (albeit in a different sense) work and the teaching + software developer position at a school like Andela fit the bill. I always was interested in the field of education and startups and the intersection of the two; I loved teaching tennis and math to kids, and I loved teaching poker to my students when I competed full-time. I feel like this is the best possible start for me out of the Turing School. I feel prepared to teach and make a difference with a skill that is truly mine.

But my highest praise goes to the people and the community at Turing. I’ve never met a group of harder working, kind, intelligent, and humble people in my life. The students ranged from precocious 18-year-olds to comp-sci college grads to parents to war veterans and all of them were exceptional individuals and just extremely pleasant people to work and learn with. I gained so much from being around a diverse but equally goal-driven group of learners and I owe so much to the mentors, the teachers, and Jeff Casimir for helping me get back on track in my career. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was around my people.

So that’s my opinion. Turing gave me a solid foundation in Ruby and Javascript programming and web software design, my first technical job in the field of my choosing, and a wonderful 7 months around my kind of people. In short, it was worth the time and tuition and I give it my highest recommendation to those seeking a career in software design.

Written on July 13, 2015