Our Coding Instructor Andrew Sits Down with SwitchUp for an Interview
Our community of dedicated instructors, all top professionals in their field and awesome students eager to learn and progress their career is what makes all our programmes so special. And that’s not just us saying that – on SwitchUp, our courses are rated 4.8/5! They’re the best resource around for tech bootcamps, with tonnes of student reviews.
Andrew Pohl is one such great instructor, having taught our Coding for Managers course for the past 2 years. After studying and teaching, he made his way to the Product School team and has seen over 16 students flourish. His greatest success story includes a student who founded a startup and, after graduating from the Product School program, found immense success.
Erica Freedman from SwitchUp recently sat down with him to hear the the story of how he got into programming from a non-tech background, what he enjoys about teaching and his advice for students. Read all about it below…
Your educational background is in Psychology. Do you feel this helps you as a Product School instructor?
In some ways I believe that it may have helped, but to be perfectly honest with you, I’d say that my training in working with children with emotional disturbances may have been more impactful (haha). That’s not to say that I think that the students I was instructing were emotionally disturbed or anything, but the years I did that work (postgraduate) taught me patience, and more of an ability to be clear in the way that I speak and how I describe different things to people.
How did you end up teaching at Product School? What was your journey?
I attended General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive program back in 2014/2015 and was able to get a job as a Front End Web Developer right after that. After working for about a year and a half, a former classmate of mine (from GA) had approached me to take over his role as an instructor at Product School. He vouched for my character and abilities, and after going through the interview with the staff at PS, I was hired.
You are also a QA Automation Engineer. What does this title mean and what does a normal day look like for you?
Basically, I try to break the products that our company makes, and break them using automation tools. To be more clear, it’s my job to set up applications/services/programs that can be run automatically whenever we have a new feature to release, or a new build to release to expose any potential issues that may not have been made clear during development. My normal day consists of reading reports that get created from my programs, deciphering the data, maintaining my code, updating it to meet the demands of any new features, and planning…. lots of planning.
Do you feel students without a formal technology background can succeed at Product School?
Yes I do. The course that I teach at PS is designed for individuals that don’t necessarily have any formal technical training. It covers some of the most fundamental principles and puts them into practice. It’s still not easy, by any stretch, but I would say that individuals with a relatively good head for math and science can do this type of work with enough time and practice.
What qualities do you find make up the most ideal student for Product School?
Perseverance, patience, and an appreciation for learning.
What do you consider the strongest parts of the Product School curriculum?
Product School has done a great job at ‘trimming the fat’ with regards to the information being presented. It’s all too often that when taking a course or learning a new skill, you end up reading up on and going over material that may not be relevant to the actual things you want to learn. We cover the most fundamental pieces and put them together in a way that makes sense.
How many students have you seen graduate the program?
I have been involved with about 16 students overall.
What is your favorite success story?
One of my students was in the process of launching his own startup, and after finishing the program, I noticed on LinkedIn that the startup had officially been launched, and was on its way to having quite a bit of traffic. The startup was essentially a non-profit that raised money by having people participate in running and exercise events, which I thought was a really ambitious and awesome endeavor. I’m glad that he has seen success so quickly.
Do you have any advice for future students?
Come to class on time, be ready to work hard, understand that it’s a marathon and not a sprint, and be kind to yourself (this stuff is not easy).
Do you have any advice for students who have already graduated?
Continue to learn as much as you can when you are able. The technology is changing rapidly, and those that don’t stay in touch with the new products out there will be destined to fall behind quicker than they may realize. Also, don’t sweat the small stuff.
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