Re:Coded mentor, Brandon, shares his energized experience with students
We all started our careers somewhere, wishing we had someone to guide us in those early steps. Re:Coded Mentor Brandon Pampuch has signed up to be that guide, and he wants to make it count where it matters the most.
min read //
July 7, 2021
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Finding a job as a developer is not just about having the technical skills to succeed. It's also about knowing what to do when faced with an interviewer or even how to get that far.
To help with that, Re:Coded engages mentors from the global tech industry that are passionate about helping our inspiring community of talented web developers and UX/UI designers in the Middle East take their first steps to find meaningful work. As a software developer at the American retail corporation Target, Brandon hopes to use his skills to help others break into the tech world.
Having mentored three successive bootcamp cohorts, Brandon is already one of Re:Coded’s most experienced mentors. He even learned how to code in a bootcamp himself, making him well-placed to mentor students in their struggles.
"I know the challenges of studying remotely; I know the imposter syndrome people feel, the zoom fatigue and internet problems and speculating how they're going to get a job afterward which is their major concern."
What does he do?
Brandon originally studied English and started traveling the world, teaching English in South Korea and in refugee camps in Greece. He never really imagined he would end up with a career in tech, but now he sees his unconventional background as an asset, both at his work and in his role as a mentor.
As part of the mentorship program, students can submit questions to their mentors, who give tutorials over Zoom on the issues that they're facing.
Also available on Slack, the students have a constant point of contact should they face difficulties with the program. They aren’t there to help with homework or final projects. Rather, they’re there to help with soft skills, such as interview preparation, CV reviews, and general issues encountered during the intensive program.
"This generation is a hope for the future as they’re well-educated and speak English. We need to make them understand their value. But there’s a misconception that you should understand everything perfectly every day. You have to teach them to be more understanding of not understanding."
He knows the intensity of the program is what will really help the students going forward. As bootcamp curriculums are able to adapt quickly to changing technologies, they are often more up-to-date than traditional university curriculums, thereby making these students more desirable to tech companies.
"The education sector doesn't teach people to code. The universities teach whatever they’ve been teaching for the last 20 years as the professors are tenured and they don’t have any incentive to learn new things. There’s a disconnect between what Computer Science programs are teaching and what companies are looking for."
What advice is he giving?
Mentoring students at Re:Coded he wants to make them understand their value and advise them on how to use their diversity as an asset.
"The students need to understand that they’re a hot commodity. These students have been through much at a young age and have gone through difficulties before becoming programmers. It’s hard to communicate in a resume, and I love to brainstorm with them on that without getting into their stories."
Looking for other selling points, Brandon points to learning how to code online as a thing that gives students an edge over those who studied at university.
"The online learning challenges are becoming the reality of the workplace, so the fact that you went to an online school means that you’re familiar with the tools. It’s almost a pitch now and an advantage for their future in the industry."
He also sees the personal stories of many Re:Coded students as a selling point as they can help to provide much-needed diversity of thought and experience to the tech industry.
"Their stories are a real asset. People read it and are sympathetic and recognize the strength of this person. They need to understand that they’re needed and desired in the industry as we try to build a more diverse tech community. This piece of advice often resonates with people. This type of conversation gives them confidence which they need to succeed."
The diversity of the students at Re:Coded is also one of the things that have inspired his involvement as a mentor.
"I think Re:Coded is doing a good job of bringing a lot of women into the programs. I’ve worked in refugee camps where women can’t come to school because the men won’t let the wives, children, and mothers go. Seeing how Re:Coded is at least half women and the men are really respectful of that, it’s just great to see."
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