Naftali Kulik: Rabbi to Software Engineer
Naftali Kulik, a married father of two, always knew that being a Rabbi wasn’t his long-term plan. A coding bootcamp later, he’s now thriving as a Software Engineer in tech.
Naftali Kulik, a September 2022 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, spent nearly a decade pursuing Rabbinic Studies before transitioning to tech.
He shares his journey from Rabbi to Software Engineer below.
A Foundation In Faith
Naftali Kulik began his career pursuing Rabbinic Studies. While he spent nearly a decade in the effort, he never intended to make a lifelong profession out of it.
“A long-term career in the field was never really part of the plan,” Naftali said. “I always knew I’d eventually transition [to something else].”
After spending some time researching different career options, Naftali settled on the field of Software Engineering.
“In my mind, the ideal career would be the chance to do something that a) I enjoy doing, b) I am good at, and c) will enable me to comfortably support my family. The more I learned about Software Engineering, the more I felt it had the potential to check all three boxes.”
But, as a busy father of two, he knew he didn’t have the time or financial resources available to take off years and go back to school for a traditional 4-year degree.
“What originally drew me to a tech bootcamp was the possibility of making a quick career change,” he explained. “I chose a bootcamp over college because of the ability to acquire a valuable skill in a fraction of the time it’d take to earn a college degree, and for cheaper.”
As for why he chose Flatiron School specifically in an industry with lots of options, Naftali said that he wanted “the best”.
“[Flatiron School] is one of the most respected bootcamps in the industry, and I wanted the best for myself. Attending a bootcamp with the combination of a quality curriculum, good career coaching, and a sterling reputation felt like the best way to set myself up for success.”
His Coding Bootcamp Experience
Naftali enrolled in Flatiron School’s Software Engineering Flex (or part-time) program in April 2022. The online-only, self-paced format of the course allowed the busy father of two the flexibility he needed to make a career change. But, like many students new to tech, he found adapting to the material and an engineer’s mindset difficult at first.
“The beginning of the program [was challenging], before I learned how to think like a developer,” he recalled. “But as coding became more instinctive and intuitive, it got easier and easier even though the material was getting more advanced.”
As Naftali adapted to and progressed through the program’s material, he found that he particularly appreciated the projects he worked on.
“I enjoyed watching everything I’d learn come together to produce real results (which would suitably impress my non-technical friends and family of course!),” he recalled. ”Working on projects allowed me to push my limits and helped me solidify my understanding of the languages and technologies I was working with.”
The Job Search
Naftali graduated from his Flatiron School Software Engineering program on September 13, 2022, and jumped right into the job search. The experience, he said, was turbulent.
“[It] was exhausting, at times discouraging, and thankfully relatively short!”
Despite the rough seas, his Flatiron School career coach guided him throughout his job search journey.
“My career coach helped me stay the course and not let short-term discouragement get in the way of my long-term goals. He gave me the confidence to trust my instincts and was always there when I had questions or was unsure how to proceed.”
In December 2022, Naftali ultimately accepted a role as a Software Developer at 100 Boulevard Management.
Working In Tech
When we followed up with Naftali in January 2023, he’d only been at his first tech job for a week. Despite being brand new to both the company and the industry, he felt well-prepared to succeed.
“I feel like my skills are up to par with what’s expected, though I’ll still need training on the particulars of the project I’m working on.”
As for how his previous religious career fits into his new path, Naftali said that the two fields have more in common than meets the eye.
“Studying Talmud is an exercise in closely analyzing information so as not to miss a single detail, and applying critical thinking skills to resolve disputes and inconsistencies,” he explained. “These skills were useful when learning how to code, as I am already trained to identify small but important details and to apply my knowledge creatively to solve problems.”
Reflecting On His Journey
Looking back on where he started, Naftali is sure that he made the right decision.
“My biggest takeaway is that I chose the right profession! I enjoyed the program and discovered a natural talent for coding. Everything I learned only reinforced my conviction that Software Engineering was the right career path for me.”
As for his advice to others currently in a Flatiron School program, he recommended taking the opportunity to practice as much as they can.
“You can absorb all the information you can, but the only way to truly internalize it is to put it to use. When working on projects, push your limits (within reason of course) and incorporate as much of what you’ve learned as possible. The projects (and to a lesser extent, the labs) are your opportunity to go from ‘someone who knows some stuff about coding’ to a true programmer.”
And about the job search? Naftali advised taking a macro look at the experience, instead of floundering in the inevitable micro disappointments.
“Play the long game. A good job hunt strategy requires patience to let your efforts bear fruit, and a lack of short-term success doesn’t reflect on the overall progress toward the eventual goal of getting a job. Just keep building relationships and making yourself as hireable as possible and you’ll get there eventually.”
Ready For A Change, Just Like Naftali Kulik?
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Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Software Engineering Prep. Or, review the Software Engineering Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.
Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of May 30, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.
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