Students in the JCCS computer science course are learning about coding and computer systems, but hearing from someone in the field who is bringing it to life can have a lasting impact.
Tony, a Monarch alumnus, currently works as a software engineer for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Recently, he shared what it was like to work in the field and the path he took to get there with students in his class.
Tony works on the code behind the checkout process and the shopping cart on the company’s online store. He explains how programmers and designers work side-by-side to deliver an online experience to the end user.
“I love having a challenge every day,” he said. “My work is never boring; there’s something we always have to deal with.
Tony developed his problem-solving abilities and perseverance while growing up in some difficult neighborhoods and facing unstable financial and housing situations.
“I keep my head down, go to the library every day, read and work on the computer a lot. I always look for alternative stores to avoid trouble,” he said. “Technology really saved my life. If I didn’t go to the library, I don’t know where I would be.”
He majored in machine learning in college and says that studying any field related to computer science or technology is beneficial to becoming a software engineer. He added that it is possible to attend coding bootcamps or specific courses in coding in lieu of a degree but that college is suggested as the best option.
Kimberly, a student at Cuyamaca Prep Community School, said: “Education plays an important role in achieving this career, any career in general. “Grading from college gives you an opportunity and sets you on the right track for success.”
Tony tells students there is great demand in the industry, but warns that majors and computer science majors are competitive and challenging because of the potential for big money.
“The skills you are learning, at some point, someone will pay you to have them,” he said.
He encourages students to do internships during and after college to help secure jobs and emphasizes the importance of networking with industry professionals, including himself.
He ended by letting the students know that they could contact him with questions.
Wendy, a student at Bayside Community School, said: “Listening to Tony helped me understand more about computer science and it was so inspiring. “It helps me to think that no matter how hard it is, it’s never too late to be something in life.”
The JCCS computer science course, co-taught by Sara Matthews and Angela Gigliotti, is a new class this year with 23 students, almost half of whom are girls.