Most students aspire for the career Soundarya R. had before Flatiron School. She was a developer leading her own team at Microsoft. Now, she’s the Lead Instructor for the immersive Software Engineering program at Flatiron School Seattle.

Before starting her tech career, Soundarya graduated from Western Washington University with a Computer Science degree and grew up alongside technology.

“Currently, my father works as a project manager for IBM, but he started out as a software developer just like me,” she recalls. Her father was passionate about the opportunities that tech was providing around the world. “Learning the art of programming will always be something I value in my heart,” she said.

Tech changes how you look at yourself and the world, according to Soundarya. “There’s a huge growth process that happens when you tackle the challenge of learning a new language and working through all the puzzles of how everything works and communicates,” she said.

Her coding education began in her senior year of high school. She enjoyed the teacher and learning code, but the class lacked structure and resources. She progressed, but this experience was a catalyst to support tech education initiatives to improve access and resources for students.

After college, Soundarya started her career at Microsoft as a team of one for the Xbox test team. “The team’s goal was to incorporate data driven testing into projects they were working on,” she said. “Slowly, over four years, we developed into ‘DataX’ and became a team that managed the data engineering pipeline for different clients and teams.”

In theory, she made it. Soundarya was a data engineer lead for a Xbox One test team. She managed other software developers, served as a mentor, and guided them to success. “Working at Microsoft taught me to have more grit in my everyday work,” she said. “One of my main motivators in developing the team was having my mission, values, and goals outlined everyday, so that I can continue to have greater impact and be a positive resource for my team.”

Throughout her career at Microsoft, she adapted to change, asked the right questions, and learned new languages. Being a team leader also reignited her passion to teach. “Watching the team become more confident in their ability and seeing the growth in their skills is what motivated me to start transitioning into teaching,” she recalls.

Soundarya wanted to share her values and experience with others. She started pursuing part-time teaching opportunities. “Teaching has always been my main passion and where my heart is. Seeing the direct impact in students, watching them learn and grow into their dreams is the most rewarding part,” she said.

Flatiron School was a perfect fit for her commitment to increasing access to tech education. “You can leverage technology and coding into any field and create projects that can have positive impacts all around the world,” she said.

She recommends students learning data science or software engineering outline their goals and reasons for learning to code. Ask a lot of questions, stay patient, and don’t be afraid to reach out to teachers or mentors for support. She became a teacher to help students, after all. “We challenge the status quo in education while providing a lifetime of guidance for our alumni, which is an amazing concept to me,” she said.

Learning to code, and changing your career in the process, is uncomfortable. You’ll be challenged, but you also have teachers who are supporting you through the process. “We, as instructors, are here to teach and guide you through this amazing journey,” she said. “I encourage students to be patience with themselves and develop self-confidence. Keep your goals in mind and don’t give up!”

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