Career Success Story: How Pat Adduci Hacked His Programming Career

We sat down with summer 2014 web development alumnus and software engineer Patrick Adduci to get the (impressively methodical) play-by-play on his journey from Lehigh math grad to coding course student, and finally to web developer. Read on to learn how Pat managed to leverage his skill for logic to not only ace the technical interview, but design his coding career: Pat (right) presents deliverables at the IdeaHack

Let's start from the beginning. What did you study in college?

I started out in Lehigh’s business school, in finance and economics. After my sophomore year, I decided that I wanted more technical experience, so I switched into math and economics—a degree that would leave my options open to a variety of fields.

What were your priorities at the time you were graduating?

At the beginning of my senior year, I was still deciding what field to target. After considering different options, I decided software engineering would be the best choice because I'm very analytical, the job market is stellar, and I'm optimistic that it can lead to lots of opportunities.

So, how did you end up at Startup Institute?

Given that I was relatively late to the software engineering game (I took several computer programming courses, but I didn't major in computer science or intend to work in the field until the middle of my senior year), I thought I'd benefit from having more time to work on projects and pick up practical skills. I thought a master's degree would be my only option until I discovered coding bootcamps and other accelerator programs.

Enrolling in a coding bootcamp that started from scratch did not make sense because I already had a fair amount of programming experience. After some research, I applied to Startup Institute because, in addition to the coding courses, it is also focused on networking opportunities— helping students to discover their best fits and find jobs at startups (as opposed to larger companies).

Tell us a bit about what you're doing now.

I work as a software engineer for Mavrck. We offer a platform that allows brands to identify their most influential customers on social media and activate them to create and distribute branded content. In the six months after I started, we grew from seven full-time employees to 17. Right now, I work primarily on back-end development using Node.js, as well as configuring and maintaining the production environment on Amazon Web Services.

What skills were most important to getting your job?

I spent a great deal of time trying to understand the "why’s" of application development and software engineering, rather than learning how to use fifty different tools/ frameworks to pad my LinkedIn profile. This enabled me to perform better in the conversational part of the technical interview, because I was able to speak more intelligently about the topics that the engineers interviewing me cared about.

How did you learn these skills?

It was a mix of self-direction and formal training. I learned how to program in a couple different languages, the basics of databases, and the basics of software engineering in college. During Startup Institute, I focused on learning more practical skills, such as Git and security, and on filling in any glaring knowledge gaps. I was able to take advantage of the experienced instructors to help clarify my understandings.

What advice do you have for fresh college grads?

The hardest part about getting your first job out of college is uncertainty. Spending time pursuing an end that is not guaranteed can be nerve-wracking. I think the best approach is to apply principles of "lean" startups (popularized in a book by Eric Ries) to your own learning and career decisions. Begin by assessing the things that you are most certain about (e.g. I am analytical and want to work on hard problems), make an educated guess about a direction to take (I think software engineering leverages these traits), and actively seek external feedback. Use this feedback to refine the direction you take. Repeat this process over and over again and it won't be long before you'll find yourself in a position you love.[bctt tweet="Lean principles aren't just for software development. Use lean to design your career."]

To hear more tips on finding a job you love and for more stories from our graduates, check-out our free eBook: How to Find Your First Job Out of College (and love it!).

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[bctt tweet="Aspiring innovator? Want to crush some code? Check out @StartupInst's web dev track." via="no"]

Photo credit: Remko van Dokkum via Flickr cc