From Teacher to Software Engineer

This week, we sat down with Bloc Software Developer Track student, Ivan, who transitioned from a teacher to a developer with Bloc. Ivan is now working in London as an engineer!

What motivated you to switch careers?

When I was a kid, several of my best friends were into computers and writing code. At a very early age they could make simple games or websites. I was always into tech, but my other interest, music, prevailed, and I ended up spending way more time in front of the piano than in front of a monitor. When it came to university I picked a Music Technology course, which was at the intersection of music and tech. University reignited my love for programming, even though the amount of coding we did throughout the course was minimal. After the university I took a career detour and went to Russia to teach English and Music. By then, I decided that I want to do programming for life, but I didn’t have enough coding experience to get a job or internship. I started to research online courses and Bloc stood out with its 1-on-1 mentorship, so I went for it.

What was your Bloc experience like?

Bloc was great from the very beginning, and the main reason for it was mentorship. The sessions with my mentor were very engaging from the start. He asked me what my hobbies are, asked about my experience, and made sure to tailor the sessions to my interests. Often he went way beyond the curriculum to make the sessions more exciting. For example, when he found out I was interested in music tech, he immediately proposed we build a software synthesizer, which became my first mini project. As I hoped, the mentorship became the game changer. I was the key factor in the success of Bloc and its students. Having someone experienced guiding you, showing best practices and constantly pushing you to learn more was invaluable.

What was your favorite Bloc project? Tell me about it! What did you use to build it?

One of the dearest projects is probably the first one I did at Bloc — Mr. Leo, a virtual synthesizer. We were using simple tools like HTML, CSS and jQuery. We also used a couple of sound libraries. My mentor went above and beyond once again and made a 3d model of the synth, so we could use a rendered picture in the project.

Tell me about your new role! What’re you working on? How has your Bloc education helped you in your new role?

2 months ago, about half way through the course, I got a job as a Software Developer at Future Design Unit, a Digital Marketing company with a large Rails application at its heart. My main job involves coding in Ruby (Rails) and JS, as well as working with a lot of external APIs. The job is very hands on, which I love as I am doing a very wide variety of tasks. We have every single software company office cliché: naked brick walls, white boards, Nespresso machines, dogs… it’s great!

How was your job search process? Did you find that your new skills were marketable in the industry?

The job search was tough in the beginning. As soon as I moved to a larger city however (London), I was able to get interviews pretty quickly. The two main frameworks that Bloc is teaching, Angular and Rails are very much in demand, although generally React seems to be on its way of becoming a more popular front end choice. The portfolio that I built while at Bloc was also strong enough to attract employers.

What advice do you have for beginner coders looking to learn more?

My main advice would be to stay humble and persistent. To a degree, anyone can learn how to code, but to get good at it (or anything!) you need the right attitude. Employers realize that too — that’s why a lot of them don’t look so much at your coding skills, but rather at your approach. Don’t give up, be honest with yourself and try to remember that no matter how well a piece of code is written, there is likely to be a better way of doing it. I believe this mindset can get you wherever you want to be!

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