Meet gSchool Graduate Kareem

Kareem Grant graduated from gSchool in July 2013. Now he’s a developer at Cardflight in NYC. We caught up with Kareem to see what he’s been up to since he completed our program.

Kareem, what inspired you to apply to gSchool? Did you have any experience with programming before you enrolled?

I was first exposed programming in college. I took a class that taught Visual Basic, and I absolutely loved it! That experience almost convinced me to switch my major to computer science, but the prospect of spending an additional two years in college was not appealing. After graduation, I went on to work for a consulting firm which offered a three-month java training program to all new consultants. After completing the program I was ready to take on the world as a java developer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get placed on any projects that allowed me to utilize my new found programming knowledge and as a result, my career started to veer away from programming.

My experience volunteering with CodeNow reignited my love for software development and inspired me to apply for gSchool. CodeNow teaches underrepresented minority youth how to code. When I first heard about CodeNow, their mission immediately resonated with me. I would have loved to have had a program like CodeNow available to me when I was in high school. I met with Ryan Seashore, the founder of CodeNow, and expressed my interest in helping out in any way I could. He asked me if I was interested in helping teach the curriculum. I was hesitant at first, after all, I wasn’t a professional programmer at the time. However, I figured that if I had access to curriculum ahead of time, I could stay a couple steps ahead of the students and still provide value. That strategy ended up working out pretty well. That experience was eye opening, the constant problem solving inherent in coding was something that I found exhilarating and exciting. It was a feeling that was lacking in my professional career. From that point on, I had quietly decided that it was time for a change. It was time to finish what I had started years prior and become a developer.

It was through my involvement with CodeNow that I met Jeff Casimir. Jeff, who in addition to being instrumental in the success of CodeNow was also running Hungry Academy, Living Social’s successful in-house software development training program that was a precursor to gSchool. Jeff is super passionate about teaching. He does an excellent job breaking down complicated concepts in a way that makes it easy for beginners to comprehend. In addition, he’s highly respected in the Ruby community and deeply committed to increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities that pursue careers in software development. Once I heard Jeff was moving out to Denver to start gSchool, my decision to apply was a no-brainer.

Where are you working now that you’ve graduated from gSchool and what kind of work are you doing?

I work for a startup in New York City called Cardflight. We provide a platform that makes it extremely easy for companies to incorporate in-person payments into their mobile apps. We have a small development team (4 developers), so I’m in a great position to be exposed to different aspects of our codebase. My work on our backend application ranges anywhere from integrating with 3rd party APIs to breaking out parts of our app into different services. Since we also provide SDKs for mobile platforms, I’m currently in the process of learning iOS and Android development.

What surprised you the most about your experience with gSchool?

  • I was surprised by how much we learned in such a short period of time. We learned concepts that I would never have thought would have been taught in program for ‘beginners’. During gSchool, I learned how to build real-time chat clients, my own APIs, a rails app using a service oriented architecture (SOA) approach and much more. I also learned (the hard way) why automated testing is absolutely critical. We did all this while being taught by the best instructors in the world! In addition to Jeff, Katrina Owen and Franklin Webber were incredible and share Jeff’s passion for teaching and changing lives.*

What would you tell others who want to become developers but don’t know where to begin?

Do your research. There are many free resources on the web that will give you an introduction to programming. Try them out. At first, it’s going to be frustrating - there will be bugs!!! Once you finally fix that bug that took you hours to figure out, how do you feel? If you’re yearning for more and ready for the next challenge, then that’s a good sign that you’re ready to pursue a career in software development.

What do you enjoy most about being a developer and where do you see yourself five years from now?

What I enjoy most about being a software developer is the speed of which I can take an idea and turn it into working software. Five years from now, you’ll find me running a successful software company.

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