Meet Jorge, Director of Admissions and Instructor at Turing

“Turing is a really good combination of mission and technical expertise. They have amazing people that have been teaching programming for years. They deeply care about bridging the gap and allowing more people to learn to program. That mission was very enticing for me.”

This was the first thing that Jorge Téllez, Director of Admissions at Turing School of Software & Design, told me as we began our morning conversation via Skype last week.

Jorge’s believes in a strong education and a connected community. His background is diverse, which leads him to connect well with people with non-traditional backgrounds and interests in humanities. His passion for each new topic he has learned in his life is obvious, coding taking the lead in his current role.

“I was actually working at a development company in Mexico and I did that for three years. I was working with big clients, so I was the business guy. I didn’t know how to program. I was playing around with coding when I was a kid doing BASIC stuff, but I never got the opportunity to be a full time web developer. But then I went to gSchool and it changed my life.”

After attending the first cohort of gSchool, Jorge helped teach the second cohort before being part of the team that started Turing.

As to why he chose to attend gSchool, Jorge points to the high level of education and ability to teach of the instructors when Jeff Casimir was running the program.

“Jeff was super qualified to teach programming and I saw the team he assembled was top notch and he had a good track record with Hungry Academy. I knew if I wanted to learn programming I needed to be immersed in a longer program. I thought if I were to make that investment then I would trust my money and time, the most valuable resources that I have, to a team that knew what they were doing.”

That same level of great teaching has crossed over into the curriculum and the environment at Turing, but there is also something a little extra.

“What is different are the students. We have created an amazing environment to promote inclusiveness. They have various backgrounds ranging from bartenders, veterans, MBAs, school teachers. We have them all, different genders, sexual orientations, and races. That kind of environment enables a better learning environment. The more open and sensitive you are to differences the better learning group you’re going to have.”

And that learning at Turing follows a curriculum that covers a lot of material and inspires growth in the process. This cirriculum is based on four modules.

The first is focused on Ruby, because it’s an easy language to learn that allows you a lot of flexibility and allows you to focus on what’s important. According to Jorge, “it’s about developer productivity.” The second module focuses on Ruby Web Applications, diving deep into Sinatra & Rails. The third focuses on Professional Web Applications, and the fourth on High-Performance Applications with APIs and Services, which brings back some Javascript learned in the second module.

So which of these coding languages is the most important?

“Right now I think Ruby on Rails provides high quality jobs for programmers. There are also PHP jobs and C jobs, which are numerous, but these are the ones that can provide a better career path for our students. The Ruby community is very welcoming, and the community is mature enough that they can engage in other things. If you want to keep learning it’s the perfect language.”

The coding community has come a long way since Jorge was first playing around with programming as a child. To him, one of the most important aspects of learning these tangible and applicable skills is the community you surround yourself with as you’re learning. They can be your most valuable resource.

“When I was doing BASIC when I was a kid, they had cassettes to record your programming, and I was amazed by how many things you could do there. At one point I stopped what I was doing because I wasn’t sure what you could do with it other than have fun. I didn’t have any programmer friends or viable role models to say ‘I want to do what you’re doing’. For me, it was never an option or a path available to me so I decided to do other things.”

It wasn’t until “the web exploded” that Jorge realized he could build something that was useful for people. While working the business side of things at the development company in Mexico, he was surrounded by developers all day, which allowed him to rekindle that thought of becoming a programmer. That recognition that education can be sparked through people is very present in the Turing atmosphere today.

“The good thing is that we’re deeply about the community. We’re always having community nights and involving local groups and giving conferences. Because of that we’ve established a really good network of resources. For example, we have a great developer, Ben Orenstein, who is guest lecturing right now for a month. Our graduates are working at startups and bigger companies; they do it all because they have the community.”

And Turing gives them the skills to be able to connect with that community in any way they want. “Some students end up working in JavaScript or iOS development because they have a really strong understanding of what programming is, and can build off of that knowledge.”

Being able to switch gears academically and professionally is something Jorge is no stranger to himself.

“My education is very weird. I studied Mass Media with a minor in Public Policy and I did a Masters in that and Public Administration. But I didn’t like how slow things were moving, and then I worked in international development. After that I felt that being involved in technology would have a bigger leverage in impacting social change.”

What’s the point of all of these diverse backgrounds and building community?

“Developers are no longer the guys who are locked in their basement for seven years, but more interesting people with different backgrounds can come into coding and enrich the industry.”

And we’re all excited to see where that industry goes from here.

TL;DR // quickfacts

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was always interested in science when I was a kid so I was interested in becoming a scientist. I could just imagine myself in the lab mixing funning liquids and making things blow up. Then I became interested in humans and how humans interact with the world. I just see programming as another tool in my toolbox for building. I see myself as a daydreamer and I just like to build things with whatever tools I have available. It’s hard for people to put me in boxes.

I just follow whatever interests me at the moment and I’ve found that that’s a very successful strategy for learning because you’re going to be motivated.

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

I just had a baby six months ago, so my favorite favorite favorite thing to do is spend time with my wife and baby. They’re super fun and they make my life better just by being there.

What is your favorite book?

For fiction, I think The Loving in Times of Cholera. I just know the name in Spanish, but I think that’s it in English. It’s just amazing I read it probably a year ago. It’s a treatise on love, and it just moves you in a permanent way.

For nonfiction, The Price by Niccolò Machiavelli because it shows how people really are, and not how people wish to be. It’s very eye-opening. You might agree with it or not agree with it from a moral standpoint, but you can’t reject it.

If you could get afternoon tea with whoever you wanted and pick their brain a bit, who would it be?

Octavian, the first Roman emperor. He pretty much destroyed democracy, but at the same time he brought this time of civility, peace, and prosperity to Rome, so it would be interesting to hear what he has to say about society, history, and war in general.

If you could order any food and have it in front of you right now, what would it be?

What I’m craving the most is a Cuban sandwich from this place in Miami called La Carreta. My wife and I have a tradition of getting those in the airport.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

In Birdman, Riggan Thomson just wants to achieve something beautiful and permanent somehow, so he just wreaks havoc on everything to have a legacy. That sense of having a legacy when you leave this world is very powerful to me.

Some advice to new coders?

Try it a bit. There are many resources online where you can give it a try. The usual suspects, (Code Academy, Treehouse, etc.), go to a meet up, see if you find a culture fit. Don’t do it ever for the money. Do it because you see yourself building amazing stuff. If you’re doing it because you’re passionate the money will come, but don’t do it for the income.

What is something you’re excited about now?

Something very ambiguous: the future. The future is a great adventure, there are so many opportunities to learn and enjoying the journey along the way and whatever comes.

Last minute thoughts?

If you’re interested in becoming a developer, if you’re a hard worker and you have the passion, Turing wants you.


Originally published at blog.lendlayer.com on February 3, 2015.

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