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From Student to Staff: Meet the Experience Engineers Part I

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Programming bootcamps continue to skyrocket in popularity with no sign of slowing down. To set ourselves apart, we think it’s important to stick to our core values here at Launch Academy. 

We’re not just teaching Launchers how to code, we’re teaching them how to problem solve and continue to teach themselves after graduation. We pride ourselves on being both innovative mentors and curious students, and our Experience Engineers (known as “EEs” around the water cooler) are the foundation of the Launch experience.

Our EEs came from all different backgrounds and career paths before they entered the world of programming, from studying 18th century literature to teaching 6th grade English. But they all have one thing in common–many are former Launchers. We’ve found that former students make great teachers.

But our EEs do more than just teach a group of people to code in 10 weeks, which is no small task in and of itself. The Experience Engineer is a hybrid role that balances teaching cool concepts to students and working as developers on internal applications within the Launch database.

EEs also act as mentors, cheerleaders, and stress relievers for their Launchers. They are there to answer every question, coach through each hurdle, and provide insight as only a former Launcher can.

We’re wicked proud of the current EE team for our 16th Boston cohort, and we want to humble brag about them for a minute. That being said, we’d like to introduce our two-part “Meet the EEs” blog series. In our first edition, read on to find out what Amanda and Jenah have to say about their experience at Launch as EEs.

Name: Amanda Beiner

Cohort: Boston 14

Life before Launch: After graduating from Boston College with an English degree, Amanda worked in publishing for two years before enrolling at Launch.

Amanda’s foray into programming started, as so many do, with self-teaching. After a year of free online classes, she attended a Geek Girl Tech Conference workshop on the basics of Ruby. The session happened to be led by Launch’s very own Senior Experience Engineer, Christina Koller, who Amanda calls “a gift to the coding world.” In two hours, Christina taught a group of people who had never programmed to build a rock, paper, scissors command line application in Ruby–and Amanda was sold. 

“In two hours, she taught us to build this little thing, and all of a sudden learning to code in earnest seemed very attainable.”

After graduating from the 14th Boston cohort, Amanda came back as an EE and found herself continuing to learn even as a mentor. “Going through the curriculum again solidified my own knowledge,” she says. “There’s no better way to test whether you really know something than to explain it by live coding in front of 40 people.” 

Amanda’s mentoring philosophy is to prioritize and break down the most important concepts to take away from each week. “What you learn here more than anything is how to get unstuck from problems, and how to teach yourself.”

Web development is a career in which you can never know everything, and a bootcamp is no exception. “We teach more in 10 weeks than anyone can absorb 100%,” says Amanda, but you continue to learn and build on what you do know. When Amanda graduated from her cohort, she hadn’t fully grasped React, an open-source JavaScript framework, and was nervous about coming back and teaching it to her students. “I thought they would know I was a fraud and wouldn’t trust me!” Then, on the Monday of her first week teaching React, it all clicked as she was answering a student’s question. “I recognized what stopped me from understanding React the first time around, and I was able to help my students past the same roadblocks.”

“For me, things click as I’m explaining them. It’s a great feeling. And if I don’t know the answer, I can turn to my team for support.”

Amanda’s favorite part about being a mentor is being able to be there through a student’s entire journey, being their go-to person for stress but also for successes. “It’s like your students are sprinting through this crazy curriculum,” she says, “and you’re just trying to sprint alongside them and pass out water and encouragement along the way.”

Actual photo of our EEs supporting a student during his first week at Launch.

“Seeing their success and confidence at the end of 10 weeks makes it so worth the stress and doubts.”

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