Flatiron School’s mission is to enable the pursuit of a better life through education, by breaking down barriers to life-changing, in-demand tech skills for people everywhere. Seven years later, we’re doing just that — with thousands of students learning and changing careers at Flatiron School’s 11 global campuses and online campus.
It’s in that spirit that we’re thrilled to bring Flatiron School’s career-change programs to Sydney, Australia. We’ll join WeWork’s expanding footprint in Australia to help people launch a career in tech and bridge the growing skills gap. Beginning February 2020, students can attend our premier Software Engineering and UX/UI Design courses on our Sydney campus.
Our students and alumni are part of a thriving community of lifelong learners and our teachers focus on cultivating these bonds and critical team building skills first and foremost. We spoke with Rishi Tirumala, our Regional Academics Manager in Sydney, to learn more about what makes a great software developer and why we’re excited about sharing our company culture with Sydney.
What makes Flatiron School’s software engineering program unique?
Rishi: Flatiron School was designed to prepare our students to break into new careers in the growing digital economy. We focus on giving our students a skillset that’s valued in today’s climate, but our experience caters to an ever-changing industry so our graduates can stay successful in the long-term. Software Engineering is primarily the art of building software solutions to human problems—and we certainly teach these skills! But to cultivate a thriving career, one must constantly stay abreast of ever-changing industry paradigms, technologies, and team dynamics.
Flatiron School’s learning experience simulates this environment and challenges our students and community members to collaborate and adapt as they learn these career-defining skills.
What are the top qualities all successful engineers have in common?
Rishi: Whenever I’m asked this question, I have two answers.
Second, teamwork is huge on engineering teams. No major technology product—be it Facebook, Atlassian, or Airbnb— was built by one person.they’re all the result of teamwork. We make collaboration an essential part of our students’ learning experience from day one, and we encourage everyone to participate in mentorship and teach concepts to their peers. Building that muscle teaches our students to ask for and offer help, which builds camaraderie within each cohort, and in our community at large.
Community engagement is huge at Flatiron School: we ask students to present their work, write blog posts, and attend meetups as well. We’ve even had some students’ online presence get noticed by recruiters before they even present their final project!
As Flatiron School keeps expanding globally, how do you engage with the local tech community?
Rishi: I think of Flatiron School as a place where the entire tech community can come together. In fact, it was one of the key traits that energized me when I first became a teacher here, that Flatiron School was building a diverse space for everyone to come together through their interest in technology. We host events on a regular basis and create spaces for practitioners in the field to come in and be a part of our community. This benefits the students but also helps cultivate a space within the industry for our graduates.
Our main opportunity in Sydney is to bring diverse technology leaders together, which is something I’m particularly excited to be a part of.
How can people who haven't worked in tech before transition into a career in software engineering?
Rishi: This transition can be much easier than it first seems! As a teacher, I’ve had the privilege of seeing students merge what they know best from their life before they joined Flatiron School with what they’ve learned with us. In fact, the student projects I love seeing the most are the ones that could only exist with a particular student or group of students. What I mean is that students who embrace their interests and leverage their existing skills to solve problems with code end up producing solutions that an traditional technologist like me wouldn’t even consider!
A favorite example of mine is from a former student who was a farmer. He built an app that analyzed weather conditions to help farmers get the maximum yield for their crops. A Computer Science grad would not have built that app intuitively. It necessitated someone who brought their own background to the world of software engineering, learned the skill set, and then synthesized the two.
If you’re willing to accept that things will be different and challenging for a little while, you will succeed. Your past experiences are always an advantage and if you embrace the things that make you unique — your passions — you will likely be able to produce beautiful, critical solutions. And in the world of technology, that’s immensely powerful.
Beyond the technical skills, what other skills do you need to succeed as a developer?
Rishi: Our main job as teachers is, of course, to teach students the technical skills. But I would say it's less important to worry about your technical skills — everyone struggles at first — and more essential to practice enduring failure: hone your grit! Your willingness to face adversity with resilience, your commitment to thrive despite the circumstances, and your ability to collaborate with others will determine your success in this program and in your career transition. If you believe that you can accomplish something, even when things get really hard, you’ll have the motivation to continue to grow. Maybe it’s cliché but I’ll say it anyway: the time you spend in class is a marathon, not a sprint.
Immediately after resilience comes the ability to ask for help, and the acceptance that you won’t always have the answers. Even though some people can have success learning alone, you won’t have to do it all by yourself at Flatiron School. In fact, we strongly believe in the power of learning with others and once you’ve spent time with us, you’ll understand why. This is true for your life as a Software Engineering practitioner too!
As I said earlier, most developers work in teams, and it’s more likely than not that you will be asked to collaborate at work. We’ve got you covered though, since our program is built to encourage teamwork. Our graduates make very good mentors not only because they've experienced good mentorship from their peers in the program, but also because the classroom experience we’ve designed cultivates that skillset.
What kind of jobs can Sydney graduates expect to receive?
Rishi: One of the reasons technology is so popular right now is that virtually every industry has a technology component these days. And the cool thing is that there are jobs out there that our grads will have in 20 years that don't exist today: so many industries are still transitioning and innovating into the digital economy. Here are some examples of industries that have been impacted by technological innovation: fashion, media, music, healthcare, government, transportation, logistics, and—my personal favorite—education. And that is by no means an exhaustive list. Despite the legacy of these industries, every day it seems there’s some new app that changes the game.
I always ask students who’ve come from specialized industries to think about how technology might change the work they used to do before. That perspective alone is a unique thing that everyone brings to the table. I believe we’re almost at that future where every industry will need to rely on skilled, technically capable creators to drive innovation. And that’s what people mean when they say that programming is on it’s way to being the new literacy, if it isn't already.
What Flatiron School is most excited about is sharing with Sydney our culture of collaboration. Our graduates stay connected over the years which is uncommon for educational alumni networks, and we’re thrilled to bring to you our premier Software Engineering and UX/UI Design courses beginning February 2020.
If you’d like to learn more about the campus and programs Rishi will be launching in Sydney, check out our Sydney Campus homepage.
Content Marketing Associate
Enara is passionate about what the future of work looks like and what that means for everyday workers. Before Flatiron School, she was a fashion magazine editor, produced tech and music festivals and brand activations, and co-founded a coding bootcamp in Florida. As a member of Flatiron School’s marketing team, she works on helping aspiring changemakers discover the power of technology and to pursue a better life through education.