Flatiron School alum builds community in Charlotte, NC

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There are vibrant, fast-growing tech hubs flourishing across the country. Oftentimes, our online graduates are some of the first to know where they’re popping up. 

We spoke with Anthony, a graduate of Flatiron School’s online software engineering course, who lives and works in Charlotte, North Carolina. While learning with Flatiron School and launching his new career as a software developer, he watched Charlotte’s population and tech scene grow.

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We connected with Anthony about his career transition from finance to tech in Charlotte, the online community at Flatiron School, and his advice for other students looking to embark on the same path. 

What inspired you to want to make a change and begin a tech career?

I liked the work and the people I worked with in my previous career, but over the last few years in that career I especially liked working in Excel and automating tasks with VBA.  After I realized that it wasn’t Excel or VBA that I enjoyed specifically, but rather programming; I became determined to learn more and switch careers.

Where were you working and what were you doing before Flatiron School?

I was in the finance industry for 13 years, specifically in real estate finance and servicing before enrolling in Flatiron School.

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Tell me about the community at Flatiron School.

The community at Flatiron School is great!  I enrolled in the online program but never felt like I was by myself.  There was a lot of support from the Slack group, webinars, study groups and one-on-one sessions.  As I progressed through the program that support continued with my education and career coaches. Now that I’ve finished the program, the community is still there.  I really like that students and fellow alumni are so willing to help each other and share resources, tips, and career insights.

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What was your favorite moment during the course?

This is a tough one; but if had to choose one moment it would be completing the first project - a CLI (Command Line Interface) app!  It was challenging for sure, but going from an idea to a working program that I could share was an awesome feeling!

What’s your favorite thing about software engineering/web development?

I love being able to solve problems with code.  The structured and logical aspects of programming along with the creativity in solving problems is exciting.

What was the most unexpected thing you learned during the program? 

One thing that stood out to me was the advice given to attend a study group on a topic that was a little further than where you were currently at; and when you reached that part some of the items covered would be familiar and help you learn.  I was surprised at how true that was!

Did you struggle with impostor syndrome? If so, what helped you overcome it? 

I definitely struggled with impostor syndrome (and still do at times).  My approach for overcoming it is to 1) remember that I am a developer and 2) focus on what I can control.  I may not have 10 years of experience right now, I can’t control that; but what I can control is my effort and work ethic.

Did you find your previous experience has helped you excel? If so, how?

My previous experience definitely helped.  In my prior career I would have to navigate and understand large legal loan documents to perform analysis and communicate with various parties.  Being able to focus on the details while also keeping the larger picture in mind is a skill applicable to programming.

What advice would you give to people who are considering switching to a career in software engineering?

My advice would be to go for it.  You can start small and take a course to see how you like it (there are plenty of resources online).  I took a few courses here and there years ago, but when I became serious about learning to program and switching careers I signed up for the Flatiron School online prep course.  I highly recommend it – and it’s free!

What are the advantages of having a tech career in Charlotte? What makes the city unique to you as a software developer?

I think Charlotte is a great city to have a tech career.  The city itself is growing rapidly and the tech scene is vibrant as well.  There are a lot of startups here, a fintech sector and a lot of large corporations that may not be considered tech companies but have sizable IT departments.

What’s your advice to someone who is looking to start their tech career in Charlotte?

My advice would be to join the Charlotte Devs Slack group as soon as possible!  It is the BEST place to get plugged into the developer community here.  It is a very friendly and supportive group. It’s also a very active community with over 1,900 members and lots of activities.

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