One Student’s Journey from Paper and Pizza Delivery to Software Engineer

Posted by Flatiron School Students  /  December 26, 2019

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“I committed to not giving up when life got challenging.”


Meet Flatiron Grad and Young Consulting Software Engineer Burak Kocak! He left Turkey for a better life and worked many jobs to support his family along the way. Then, his wife suggested coding as a great fit. So after their second child came along, they took out a loan and he enrolled in Flatiron to make this dream a reality. Read about Burak's journey:

You came to the U.S. for better opportunities for you and your family. Tell us what it was like to move to the U.S. and about the challenges you faced.

We were very excited when we found out that we were granted a visa to immigrate to the U.S. We knew that it wasn't going to be an easy transition when we moved. Coming from a country that has a different language, environment, food, religion, were some of the challenges that we had faced. But after completing ESL classes at Georgia Tech Language Institute, I began my journey.

You are truly a hard worker having delivered papers and pizza, waiting on tables, to working as a courier. You faced many hardships including having had to drop out of college not once, but twice. Tell us what that type of adversity and the need for resilience has taught you?

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What I have learned going through these hardships was learning lessons from my mistakes. I have tried very hard not to repeat them. I have also become a more determined person to achieve success. I committed to not giving up when life got challenging.

You chose the Online Software Engineering Program because you didn’t want to commute and lose family time with your wife and children. Tell us what is was like to work hard in the curriculum while simultaneously balancing your family obligations? How did you see it through?

We live far from the Atlanta area and the Flatiron campus. If I had enrolled in the immersive program, I would have had to commute 3 hours every day. Instead, I was able to spend that time studying and spending more time with my kids after picking them up from daycare. I had dedicated time between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays to study. This gave me enough time to keep up with the curriculum. After the kids went to bed, I would keep studying into the evening. I would spend most of the weekends studying as well. But with the love and support of my family, I was able to get to the finish line.

I read you befriended a CEO in NYC who then later assisted you with a job interview in your area. How did you leverage your network to gain such progressions?

I met this person years ago when I first started working at a restaurant in Decatur, Georgia. He was one of the regulars. I have always been connected with him on social media platforms. Recently, I saw a job posting at his company's Atlanta location. I reached out to him and he then introduced me to his team in Atlanta immediately. In the end, it didn't work out because they were looking for someone more senior. By working in different industries, I have met many people and I have reached out to every person who works at software-related positions. I have also followed LinkedIn feed very closely to see if any of my connections mentioned any job postings in the Atlanta area that I would be a good fit for. That's is how I got my first in-person interview!

Tell us how you ultimately landed your job.

I was messaging to one of my connections on LinkedIn. I asked him if he knew anyone who might be hiring. He passed my information to his company's hiring recruiter. His company reached out to me the next day and called me for an interview. Weeks later, they offered me a job which made me very happy and I immediately accepted the offer!

If you could go back and give yourself advice about your journey and how to meet success, what words of encouragement would you impart?

I would maximize every resource offered from Flatiron school. Additionally, I would take on code challenges more often. Lastly, I would enforce my weekly study plan better so that I could achieve time management effectively.

Career coach Shelley Richard on how Burak's job search was a great success:

"Two things stood out to me about Burak. One, he was so warm and genuine. He was always quick to say thank you to everyone he spoke with throughout his search. His kind personality and authenticity were clear to many. This is the reason so many contacts over the years were quick to help him. Second, he never put all of his eggs in one basket, so to speak. Even when he got very close to a few offers, he continued to diligently apply and network.