24-year-old Matthew Krey worked in pharmaceuticals as an associate with GlaxoSmithKline’s Future Leaders Program. When an opportunity arose to attend Stanford Medicine X, the conference gave Matthew exposure to individuals who were using software and emerging technologies to drive innovation in healthcare. There, he asked them: If you could give your 24-year-old self some advice, what would it be and why? The same response came up over and over again: learn how to code — help yourself learn how to build.
Following the conference, Matthew decided he wanted to work in healthcare technology and began researching and learning more about it in his free time. A podcast on tech and entrepreneurship then led Matthew to Treehouse. Finally, he found a platform where he was confidently able to learn to code. Treehouse helped Matthew build confidence and challenge himself to master his new web skills. Over the upcoming months, Matthew continued to focus his learning efforts and attended a programming bootcamp.
A year after he began learning to code, Matthew moved to San Francisco where a Junior Software Engineer position awaited him in Silicon Valley at Gliimpse. Today, Matthew is working as part of the team to build a platform for Americans to be able to collect and share their healthcare data.
We caught up with Matthew to hear more about his experience learning to code and plans for the future.
I am now a Junior Software Engineer at Gliimpse living in Palo Alto, CA in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Thank you Treehouse for helping to make this journey possible!
What first drew you to the tech industry? What work were you doing when you first joined Treehouse & what encouraged you to learn with us?
It all began with a conference and an iPad. In September 2014, I was working as an Associate with GlaxoSmithKline’s Future Leaders Program in Pharmaceuticals when I came across Stanford Medicine X 2014 via Twitter and an email from my Dad. MedX was the first time I had exposure to how some of the smartest people I had ever met were using software and emerging technologies to drive innovation in healthcare. I grabbed time with everyone that would speak with me and asked them, “If you could give your 24-year-old self some advice, what would it be and why?” Person after person told me, “learn how to code — help yourself learn how to build”. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was here that I also met my future CEO and mentor, Anil Sethi of Gliimpse.
The week after the conference I began my Pharmaceutical Sales Rotation with GSK and I had long periods of time waiting in Doctor’s offices and driving in traffic — I used as much of this time as I could to read, listen and learn about software development, specifically data science and data driven products. Otherwise, nights after work, mornings before work, weekends — I poured myself into learning as much as I could.
As part of my learning routine, I listened to the Foundation series of podcasts on tech and entrepreneurship by Kevin Rose. One day, I heard an interview with a guy called Ryan Carson talking about a site that he had built called, “Treehouse”. I started up a free trial that night and it was like throwing gasoline on a fire — I had found a platform that was highly interactive and very focused on building small projects. Treehouse helped me to build confidence and take on challenges I had previously thought too intimidating to build solutions for. From Treehouse, I started going to Meetups and eventually decided that I wanted to transition into healthcare technology. I applied to coding bootcamps and was admitted to the Flatiron School as a Web Development Immersive Student. 12-months after MedX 2014, I returned to the Stanford MedicineX Health Innovation Summit and MedX 2015. However, this year I had months of Treehouse and an immersive learning experience at Flatiron under my belt.
About one month later, and less than two weeks after graduating from bootcamp, I had two bags packed and a one-way ticket from New York to SFO. I am now a Junior Software Engineer and employee #10 at Gliimpse living in Palo Alto, CA in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Thank you Treehouse for helping to make this journey possible!
You recently switched career paths to transition into the tech industry. Tell us a little about how your career has evolved since learning with Treehouse.
Treehouse has helped me become much more aware of how I learn best — I am a highly kinesthetic and visual learner. I feel very fortunate to live in a world with Google, YouTube, Twitter and websites like Treehouse (all of which I can access from a device that fits in my pocket).
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
My experience with Treehouse builds off of a philosophy that was instilled in me by Khan Academy’s “You Can Learn Anything” campaign. There are no shortcuts. Once you commit to learning, you can learn anything. Treehouse gave me the confidence to apply to programming bootcamps, and I attribute all of my success in being admitted to Flatiron School and being prepared for that experience to the learning I gained at Treehouse. I still use Treehouse routinely as I learn new languages and tools.
What are your plans for the future, and what’s up next on your learning path?
What’s up next is building a platform for all 300,000,000 Americans (for starters) to be able to collect and share their healthcare data so they can control what data they want to share, who they want to share it with and for how long they want to share it for.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with new students?
- Forget about what you thought you knew about learning.
In time, you will easily understand the logical part of how to model the world in terms that your computer will understand. What you may not understand is how to shift the psychological framework with which you approach your learning so that you will actually enjoy programming.
I am 25 years old, I am competitive, and I decided to make a career transition. Everything I have previously known about learning — more specifically, not learning — was wrong. Before beginning learning how to code, “failures” and “errors” were clear indicators of incompetence. That’s what’s ingrained. That’s what 25 years of socialization and education in traditional school hardwires into how you evaluate yourself.
When you’re learning how to code, “failures”, specifically “errors”, are your best friend! Where your code is breaking and what your computer is displaying to you as an “error” is actually a signal flare from your computer telling you exactly where and what is going wrong.
The more you learn the more you understand that there are best practices and there is an art to software. But as a beginner (and I have to remind myself of this every day), errors don’t mean that you suck — you are learning and you just need to keep reading your error messages and practicing (p.s. — HUGE respect to those that taught themselves how to code in the world before Google and StackOverflow).
- Enjoy the challenge of no longer being solely a consumer, but a builder of technology.
Your default state of software as a consumer is “The Apple Effect” — you plug something in and it just works. Magic.
As a programmer, the technology you want to see and the problem you want to solve doesn’t exist yet. Therefore, it is by default broken. This is the truth you are going to face every day — your computer “doesn’t work” or “just won’t do what I want it to do”. Start with what you know and solve each small problem until you build what you want to see in the world.
To read more awesome student success stories, check out the Treehouse Stories Page.