The Perks of Teaching That You Don’t See in the Job Description

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Camden Kirkland Rice University classroom

By Camden Kirkland

My name is Ray and I’m partnering with UT Austin to find passionate software developers to help students learn code and change lives. It sounds cliche (I know) but providing students with high in-demand skills WILL change their lives.

Back in 2016, I had no idea how profound an effect these two sentences would have on my life. I was a recent college graduate who had spent the previous few months teaching myself JavaScript in order to build tools to help people learn chemistry. I’d always had an itch to teach, and I knew that I wanted to do it at the college level or higher. Needless to say, Ray’s email invitation piqued my interest. I didn’t need to be convinced that teaching could help students change their lives; I knew that Ray was speaking the truth there. What I didn’t know was how much the experience could change me.

Since then I have been able to teach boot camps in our full-stack flex and data analytics programs with the University of Texas and Rice University, respectively. I’ve gotten to see students grow from knowing almost nothing about programming to graduating and then creating their own companies using what they’ve learned. The success of the students not only gives me a sense of great pride in knowing that I’m helping create opportunities for others but also helps grow my personal network of contacts in businesses throughout the city. As the network expands, I can continue to deliver increasingly more interesting experiences for my students as well as help companies find new talent and products to fulfill their needs. The growth of the network means that teaching a student has an exponential, rather than a linear, effect. Every student you teach can go on to change the lives of their families, their friends, and perfect strangers with the products that they build.

One of my personal goals is to help Houston realize its potential in the digital economy. We’re home to the largest medical center in the world as well as more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies, and we’re consistently billed as the “Energy Capital of the World.” Healthcare, aerospace, supply chain management, and energy are sectors that will benefit extensively as new technologies are brought into the fold. Trilogy has given me the opportunity to help train the individuals that will be in an optimal position to bring about innovation in those fields and more. Each new developer creates an opportunity for a clever solution to the challenges Houston is facing, and with great teachers guiding them we can set the tone for what direction we move as a community.

Tech is a field that desperately needs those with the most experience teaching its newcomers. According to the Stack Overflow 2019 survey, almost 45% of professional developers have less than a decade of coding experience. This means two things of great importance. First, HR teams looking for candidates with “10+ years of professional development experience” are missing out on the outstanding candidates a few years short of an unrealistic bar. Second, and more importantly, there are plenty of brilliant developers who haven’t learned the lessons that the other 55% already know about. What if we could make sure that new devs learn about concepts like separation of concerns and writing clean code at the start of their career rather than several years in? Trilogy opens the door for those with plenty of experience to ensure that our craft of software development continues to grow in a stable, safe way.

Ultimately my experiences as a teacher with Trilogy have given me the opportunity to work with some of the most awesome people in my city. It has taught me how to communicate in simple language the esoteric aspects of what I do. It has allowed me to have an impact on my community in a way that I would have had to work for years to accomplish. It has allowed me to bring into the field new people who would have otherwise shied away or given up a few weeks without the program. It has made me a better person.

Camden Kirkland is a lead instructor for Trilogy Education.

Interested in joining Camden and other enthusiastic instructors at Trilogy? Explore our instructional team opportunities.

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