How One Student’s Focus on the Goal Helped Him Find Community

Posted by Flatiron School Students  /  December 23, 2019

Blog: Anthony

Online student Anthony Harvey has wowed his instructors all through his studies with his strong skills. Leaving a 13-year career in real estate finance to follow his passion to learn to code, Anthony has steadily progressed through the Flatiron program over a year while raising a family and suffering – and overcoming – personal setbacks. He’ll be graduating soon, and recently began his new job as a Ruby on Rails Developer at Quintevents in Charlotte, NC. Here he shares some great insights and advice on networking, job seeking, and keeping a personal balance throughout the process!

You left a well established career in real estate finance to enroll at Flatiron. How did you discover your love of coding and when did you know that this was the new career that you wanted to pursue?

I discovered programming during the last few years of my real estate finance career. I really enjoyed creating Excel templates for my group and automating tasks in VBA. It was not my primary responsibility (far from it) but it quickly became one of my favorite parts of my job and I was eager to work on similar projects to automate manual tasks and save time for my group. Being able to use something that is structured and logical, like programming, to be creative and solve problems really resonated with me; that’s when I knew I wanted to switch careers!

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Though you faced some personal challenges along the way, including being co-caretaker, and unexpected personal events, you are close to achieving your original goal of graduating from Flatiron this fall. How were you able to stay on track amid life’s challenges?

I’ve had ups and downs during the program, but I received a ton of support, especially from my wife. Keeping in mind the reason why I started this journey helped me stay focused when things became difficult. Also, taking a break for a day every now and then to recharge helped as well (mental health is important!)

You made networking a priority early on: attending local conferences and meet-ups and volunteering as a Teaching Assistant at an area Ruby on Rails workshop. What did you gain from these experiences?

Networking made a huge difference for me! I met a lot of great people through meet-ups and networking. Before attending my first meet-up, I had a perception that everyone there would be an expert and I would stand out as a new developer; but that was totally not the case. Everyone there was friendly and supportive.

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A seasoned Microsoft engineer reached out to you via LinkedIn to meet up with you to discuss your career. What was that like?

The opportunity to meet a Microsoft engineer was a great experience. He was engaged and seemed genuinely interested in my journey. He is plugged in to the local tech community and offered some great advice and insight!

Amid studying and taking care of your family, you also found a great job before graduating! How did networking play a part in finding this position originally?

I found out about that position through networking.  After volunteering at the Ruby on Rails workshop, another Teaching Assistant emailed me to let me know of an opening at her company and that they were willing to consider junior developers for the position.  I applied the very next day and asked if she would be willing to grab coffee sometime so I can ask her some questions about their tech stack and the applications they build. The meeting with her was a very insightful conversation.  I had the opportunity to ask a ton of questions and learn more about the position, the company and pick her brain about what it is like to be a developer there.

You have thrived during your Flatiron education and have been commended by your instructors as being a strong student who does great work. What inspired you as you worked through the program?

Continually picturing myself as a developer and eventually completing my career transition kept me going.  I reminded myself at times that I am a developer; that I may not be getting paid to program yet, but I have created applications and I am a developer!

Reflecting back on your Flatiron experience, what advice would you give to new students today?

My advice to new students would be to take things one step at a time.  It may seem overwhelming sometimes, but breaking problems and tasks into smaller ones can make them more manageable.  I would also advise new students to not hesitate to ask for help if they are stuck on something and to attend study groups, even for topics that are a little further ahead than where they may be. As a new student, you will be surprised at what you will pick up on and how it will help when you reach that particular lesson.  Overall, I would tell them to stay positive; you can do this!

What is your title and responsibilities within your new role at Quintevents?

My title at QuintEvents was a Ruby on Rails Developer as part of a small team where I helped maintain and add features to client-facing websites as well as a custom content management system.  I stayed at QuintEvents for a year before accepting a position at FanConnect as a Software Developer. I am part of a small team of developers at FanConnect where we use Ruby on Rails but also a lot of TypeScript and GraphQL.  I’m learning a lot and getting exposure to a lot of technology, like the AWS ecosystem. It’s been a great experience!

Anthony’s Career Coach Beth Wilkinson on working together on his job search:

“Anthony was a pleasure to work with. He was tenacious in pursuing every networking channel possible and always had a plan in place. His ever positive attitude, attention to detail and out-of-the-box networking strategy really paid off in identifying a job before he graduated. I wish Anthony much success on his new adventure!”