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Student Spotlight: Ryochi Tanaka

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Ryochi Tanaka

By Academy Xi

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Ryochi followed his passion, retrained in software engineering and left sales to become a full-stack developer.

Student Spotlight: Ryochi Tanaka

After a few years of trying to crack the art of coding, Ryochi joined the Software Engineering: Transform course. Find out how Ryochi’s passion for programming developed and how the course helped him land an exciting new full-stack developer role with Moonward.

Thanks for chatting with us today, Ryochi. Can you tell us about your career history?

I was born and raised in Japan but moved to Brisbane in 2018. After I graduated from university in Japan, I took the mainstream path, whereby you get a traditional education and then seek out financial stability by finding work with a big company. After graduation, I started working as a recruiting consultant – which was a role that focused on sales.

I dealt with companies operating in various fields, but I occasionally consulted with people working in IT and was always interested to find out about what was going on in the tech industry. At that time, I wasn’t completely satisfied with my sales career.

Arriving in Australia, I managed to get a sales job with a food supplier in Brisbane and stayed with the company for about 2 years, but I knew deep down that I wanted a very different career.

I felt a sense of freedom in Australia – there was no need to live-up to the stereotypes of what a successful person should do in their professional life. I realised that I had options – I had a chance to do anything I wanted and could follow my passion.

A friend had introduced me to coding years before at university. It was a cool experience that made a big impression on me. Initially, my motivation to learn software engineering didn’t come from a concrete decision to establish a career as a coder, but more from a desire to get back in touch with a sense of enjoyment.

I knew that if I spent my time practising a skill that gave me real pleasure it would lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle. That’s when I started dedicating myself to coding.

How did you arrive at studying with Academy Xi?

Well, that was a journey in itself! Once I made the decision to learn how to code, I carried out loads of research. I looked into learning methods, schools, online resources and all the different programming languages.

I started by completing a Certificate IV in Programming, which I studied for while I was still working in sales. It took about 3 hours of my time each week, which was a manageable workload, but the qualification mostly focused on the theory of programming. I spent hardly any time practising coding hands-on and didn’t get much support from the course provider.

I graduated with a logical understanding of programming but very little practical coding experience. After that, I taught myself JavaScript for a couple of months and managed to build some simple applications.

I was keen to develop a career as a full-time coder by that stage, but didn’t have the confidence to work as a professional programmer, so I started researching courses again. I decided I needed more practical training to boost my confidence and luckily, that’s when I discovered Academy Xi.

What convinced you to enrol in the Software Engineering course?

Initially, I was a little hesitant to take another online course, since my first experience hadn’t lived up to my expectations.

After looking closely at the Academy Xi Software Engineering: Transform course, I realised that the curriculum and syllabus were really thoughtfully put together.

All the online course materials were perfectly organised and gave a very clear breakdown of the skills I would develop. There was lots of emphasis on gaining coding experience, which is exactly the kind of course I was after.

Another big plus was the promise of lots of guidance and support. The course offered everything that was missing from the first qualification.

Finally, I compared the course content and price to other major bootcamps and decided that Academy Xi was by far the best option.

How did you find the course?

Honestly, there was a lot to learn! Luckily, my instructor was Albert and he dedicated a lot of his time to making sure the students grasped all the skills.

Albert was knowledgeable and understood coding inside-out, but as well as being an expert, he was a really caring and helpful person. He genuinely wanted the whole cohort to develop all the skills the course taught.

There were stages when the coding became pretty complicated and Albert always made himself available to explain. If anyone in the cohort had a question, he responded within the hour. Even if someone was stuck, they were never stuck for too long!

If any of us were really struggling with a particular module or project, Albert was flexible enough to rearrange our timelines so that we had a chance to get to grips with it. In software engineering, that kind of approach is vital, because each new skill builds on the last.

What was your most important takeaway from the course?

It completely changed my mindset toward being a programmer. When I was trying to learn to code by myself, the more I found out about programming, the more I realised there were skills I didn’t have. It really knocked my confidence when it came to applying for jobs.

Albert has developed software for multiple companies and knows from experience that the key to being a successful programmer is a willingness to work with new technologies. He helped me understand that the field is always evolving, so programmers have to evolve too. Learning new skills is an essential part of the job.

Early in the course, I stopped seeing the things I couldn’t do as obstacles, but as opportunities to evolve and improve. Everything I did throughout the course gave me the chance to reinforce that mindset.

Albert also told me that being able to adjust to new technologies is often more important to employers than experience. That boosted my confidence and I started applying for jobs just a couple of weeks after the course started.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long after graduation for me to land a new role as a full-stack developer with Moonward, a design-led app development agency.

Nicely done, Ryochi! Do you have a few words of advice for anyone considering an Academy Xi Software Engineering course?

The course outcomes have been fantastic for me. Studying Software Engineering with Academy Xi helped me secure a new role and has given me the skills and experience needed to really perform. I use the knowledge I developed throughout the course all the time.

However, completing the course takes hard work and you do have to pick up a lot of new skills in quite a short period of time. Before you start the course, you have to be fully committed and passionate about learning to code.

If someone seriously wants to be a software engineer, I’d advise them not to get an online certificate, or study alone, and definitely to join Academy Xi instead. Speaking from experience, Academy Xi courses are well taught and give you everything you need to learn to code to a really high level.

Academy Xi Blog

Community Spotlight: Luke Lewandowski

By Academy Xi

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Co-founder Luke discusses how ParentalEQ is helping improve the mental health of parents across Australia and the UK.

At ParentalEQ, co-founder Luke Lewandowski and the team are hard at work providing a service that helps build emotionally strong families. A few of our Software Engineering students got to work on the app with Luke, gaining valuable insight into how real developers think and build.

Thanks for chatting today, Luke. Can you tell us about the service ParentalEQ provides?

ParentalEQ is an on-demand counselling service designed to help with the challenges of parenting. Parents can log on to our app anywhere, anytime and start a conversation with a counsellor without needing to make an appointment.

We worked with a team of psychologists and put together simplified, practical parenting knowledge that’s delivered in specific modules. The modules come with suggested activities that parents can carry out with their kids.

Initially we offered just the self-help modules, but early in 2021 we realised that parents also wanted to access a mental healthcare professional for personal guidance and reassurance that everything is going to be okay. That’s when we introduced on-demand counselling, which has really rounded off the service we’re able to offer.

Whatever a parent’s challenge might be, we aim to provide professional advice and relationship-building activities that help them move beyond it.

Was there a ‘turning point’ or moment when you realised the importance of ParentalEQ?

There certainly was. Very early in the project we discovered 50% of adult mental health issues actually stem from traumatic experiences that occur when people are aged 14 and under. That was definitely a ‘woah’ moment for me and my co-founders – it really spurred us on and reaffirmed our sense of purpose.

We wanted to find a solution to the accessibility problem and realised that if parents are able to receive qualified healthcare assistance in good time, they can prevent these issues from escalating and becoming a chain reaction of problems as kids move through adolescence into adulthood.

When the project started, pre-covid, the wait time for psychologists was about 30 days. Since the start of the lockdown, that period’s increased to a number of months. Lots of the clinics aren’t taking on new patients right now and probably won’t for the rest of the year. It’s creating a second pandemic of unresolved mental health problems.

Helping families to recover from the stresses and strains of the lockdown environment is going to be a long-term fix. The ParentalEQ app will hopefully play an important role in that process. Our ultimate goal is to make a high standard of mental healthcare accessible to as many people as possible, exactly when they need it

ParentalEQ is an on-demand access to parent-science experts and personalised programs. It is available in the App Store and Play Store.

Why did you choose to bring our Software Engineering students into the project?

I actually brought Academy Xi students on board to help develop a few of my previous projects. The results have always been great. Once the ParentalEQ project reached a certain point in its development, I decided to get some of the Software Engineering students involved. They were joined by some of the Academy Xi UX UI students and everybody worked together beautifully. 

There was lots to be done, so the engineering help was valuable and it gave the students the experience they needed to launch their careers. The students take a leap of faith in their own abilities and it can lead to a total career transformation – from a taxi driver yesterday to a software developer tomorrow.

Four students stepped into the project and the assignments they completed are not throw-away – it’s been something to put on their CVs, show to prospective employers and say “look, I helped develop this product.”

It was a partnership that worked out nicely – the Software Engineering students helped us improve a product that’s on the market and they were able to showcase their contribution to that product in interviews. For everyone involved, it was a win-win scenario.

How did you find working with our students?

What I appreciate most about working with Academy Xi students is they arrive from different walks of life. They're all mature adults that have lived full lives, but have decided to try something different and change careers. They are open-minded and work hard to get there.

Luke Lewandowski

I also find the Academy Xi students are like sponges in how they collaborate – they really want to learn as much as possible and are completely open to discovering a more effective way of doing things.

Completing the Software Engineering course asks the students to develop a range of new skills quite quickly – so it’s my responsibility as an experienced coder and software developer to show them how to apply those new skills. They arrive with a toolbox of Software Engineering skills and I show them what work to do with what tools, which really crystallises their development.

I was also very impressed with how the students worked as a team. They arrived from all walks of life, but really bonded and supported each other. Those are vital characteristics to develop, because in the real-world you’ll be working in scrums with a number of professionals and getting things done collectively.

Would you consider working with Academy Xi students for future projects?

Absolutely – it worked perfectly, but at the moment I’m carrying out most of the development work myself. That said, I’d be up for doing something similar in the future. It’s the perfect environment for the students to apply everything they’ve learned, and they also learn some completely new skills at the same time.

I really enjoy the mentoring role the student projects place me in. The students were applying for jobs parallel to completing the assignment, so I also gave them non-technical guidance by helping them polish-up their CVs and prepare for interviews.

It wasn’t just a transactional arrangement of ‘you complete this task and then you’ll graduate’. I dedicated time to giving the students additional mentoring and did everything I could to ready them for that shift into the Software Engineering industry.

That’s wonderful to hear, Luke – thanks! We’ll look forward to working with you again soon and we’ll also keep an eye on the ParentalEQ app. It’s a service that makes a huge difference for all the families using it and we’re proud to be involved!

Make an impact in the tech industry and the wider world with our Software Engineering: Transform course. Designed by tech experts and professionals, this course will have you thinking and building like an industry-ready Software Engineer.

Finish the course by completing a capstone project that puts all of your new coding skills to test. You’ll showcase your project to industry professionals, receive expert feedback and build connections in the Software Engineering space, giving you everything you need to transition into one of Australia’s hottest tech industries.

Student Spotlight: Ryan Collingwood portrait

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Ryan Collingwood

By Academy Xi

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Ryan swapped the brushes and pencils of a graphic design career for a UX Transform course at Academy Xi. Soon after graduating, his client project work with Avertro helped him land a full-time UX role with the company.

Student Spotlight: Ryan Collingwood portrait

Thanks for chatting with us today, Ryan! Can you start by telling us about your career before Academy Xi?

I studied audio engineering in 2015 and worked in freelance audio and graphic design until 2019. A month before Covid in 2020, I enrolled in a Diploma of Graphic Design with RMIT and made the move from Adelaide to Melbourne. With graphic design, there are practical elements but it’s more about the visuals. I used every assignment I completed with the course as a chance to focus on the practical side of graphic design. This included a website project, which I really enjoyed, but that was such a small component of the course as a whole.

All my classmates were very artistic with brushes and pencils, but it was not the side of design that I wanted to pursue. At the beginning of my graphic design diploma, I heard this term, ‘UX’, and thought “what’s that about?”. I looked into it, found out it was focussed on the practicalities of design and realised it’s exactly what I wanted to put into practice.  

So after graduating with my Diploma of Graphic Design, I started  an Advanced Diploma of Interactive Media in 2021 with RMIT, with a view to learning more about UX. The interactive media course wasn’t UX focused enough for me, so after a week I left it and joined the Academy Xi UX Transform course instead.

What made you choose Academy Xi?

At first, I was thinking of doing a Bachelor’s in Design at Swinburne with a major in UX, but I looked into the course content and only up to a half, or maybe even a quarter, of the three years was spent actually learning and applying UX.

I then started looking into short courses and comparing different providers. I narrowed it down to Academy Xi and General Assembly, but the GA course costs more and doesn’t offer the same level of job search support. Academy Xi seemed to place a greater emphasis on graduates going into the job market after graduation, so I went with them.

What were the highlights of your course experience?

The client project was one of the best parts of the course—you get real-world experience, and for me, it actually led to a job with that client, Avertro. I got the job not long after graduation. There were three rounds of interviews, which started a month after the course finished. When I was completing the Career Support Program outcome report near the end of the course, I actually wanted to put the reporting on hold, knowing that I had an interview lined up.

There were twelve of us working on the project and we were meant to be split up into two groups of six, but it made sense to do things as one big team. This meant I learned about project management—I led the cohort in that group project, liaised with Avertro, and developed a rapport with the company. It was a great opportunity to think about everything needed to pull off a project and the best ways to get that done – all in a short time period. It pushed my organisational skills, my ability to prioritise and strategise, as well as my communication skills.

The group project was so valuable—it put all the skills I learned during the first half of the course to the test.

“The client project was one of the best parts of the course—you get real-world experience, and for me, it actually led to a job with that client, Avertro. I got the job not long after graduation.” 
– Ryan Collingwood

Sounds like you did a good job! Can you tell us more about the client project with Avertro?

Avertro is a cyber security management system—a software as a service company—and the current platform is made for enterprise level clients. There’s a lot of bespoke training to onboard users with the system. Our project was to create a light version of the onboarding process for smaller companies that don’t need or can’t afford the full enterprise service, which gives users everything they need to help themselves with the platform.

The project was about designing something that made sense, so we could offer fewer features for a lower price point, and still offer a really strong user-friendly service. It’s created a different target market and a new revenue stream for Avertro. I didn’t expect such a big live project going into the course, with really high exposure. It’s amazing to think we completed it in two weeks and two days.

Completing that project did require a few late nights, but we got there in the end! Luckily, we had twelve people contributing and we divided up the work as much as possible. From my perspective, keeping everyone busy was an important part of my contribution.

Avertro reached out to me about a permanent role before I even began applying for new jobs. For the interview, I was able to use the ‘star method’ and all my star examples came from the Avertro course project. Between that and having already built a strong working relationship with the company, I managed to land the job.

My course project experience also helped with my onboarding. I could already use the platform, meaning I could hit the ground running as soon as I started with Avertro.

Check out Ryan’s UX portfolio to view the Avertro UX project that his team worked on.

How did you find online learning and working in a cohort?

I liked how Academy Xi has gamified the online learning platform, with points collected for different tasks and projects. I could use the point system to work out how big the projects were going to be and plan my schedule around that.

At first I wasn’t sure if it would be useful to have the platform on my mobile—I thought it might encourage me to stay in bed rather than turn up to class! My cat fell asleep on my hand and because I couldn’t type, I downloaded the app on my phone. It really came in handy—I worked through modules on the train and made use of those spare bits of time.

As for my cohort, we’ve been trying to organise meet ups since graduation, but Melbourne’s been in lockdown. When I signed up for the course, I assumed that because it was taught fully online and completed over just three months, I wouldn’t spend much time talking to the other students. In reality, half the course is group work and you see everyone in your cohort on a daily basis.

One of my teammates had a lot of industry experience and suggested we have a group standup meeting every morning. It was great to keep up with what everyone was doing. Someone else suggested using Trello, so I was able to use the standup meetings to figure out who was working on what and track everybody’s progress with a task on a Trello card.

As well as the UX experience, I received lots of exposure to group work dynamics. We figured out how to use what was at our disposal and be an organised, efficient team.

Can you talk about your experience with your course mentor, Hayden?

Hayden’s such a great character – he’s really friendly, knows a lot and has had loads of experience with different companies.

You can tell Hayden loves his profession, he’s really engaged with how UX works best and the passion really shows through. He’s happy to tell you about his experiences, so you can learn from things he’s observed. Most people will just teach you the hard skills, but Hayden also helps you develop the soft skills. We learned what to expect in-industry, how to deal with difficult situations and how to talk to coworkers, managers and clients in ways that are really productive.

We had weekly one-on-one sessions at the beginning of the course – I’m the kind of student that likes to ask questions and make use of that time.

At the start, I was a bit presumptuous with the problem statements for my first personal project. Hayden gave constructive feedback through the learning platform and I decided it would be good to set up a meeting to discuss things further. I learnt so much just from that first meeting. I had a few more one-on-one sessions in the early phases of the course and then checked in with him at various points throughout the client work, including a project for high-profile pharmaceuticals company Roche.

For the client project, everything was very self-directed. Hayden played a background role, which was good for my learning. It threw me in the deep end slightly, which is the best way to learn because that’s what it’s like in the industry.

The Designer-in-Residence Program also gave me access to a professional mentor. I was paired with Rebecca, who now works with Open Cities, and we had weekly mentoring sessions. She’s previously worked as a UX designer and a graphic designer, but is now a project manager. Rebecca showed me interesting projects she’d worked on in the past, which gave me industry insight and the chance to ask questions about different ways of working. Everyone has their own methods and approaches and it’s always good to get different perspectives.

“The Designer-in-Residence Program also gave me access to a professional mentor… which gave me industry insight and the chance to ask questions about different ways of working.
– Ryan Collingwood

What’s happening with your life after Xi?

Well, I’m now the only UX designer at Avertro. Product management has the final say, but I don’t need to run my ideas by any other designers. It’s a blessing and a curse – I don’t get the input of other designers, but I do have lots of control and the whole process moves along really efficiently.

My course project experience also helped with my onboarding. I could already use the platform, meaning I could hit the ground running as soon as I started.

It’s very fulfilling to be at a small, independent company that’s moving fast. It gives me a lot of responsibility and what I’m doing makes a lot of impact.

The group project that I worked on for Avertro is actually ongoing and due to be completed in about two months. Lots of recommendations came out of the Academy Xi project, and I’m now helping Avertro figure out which ideas work best and are possible to implement. I can still access all of the work files put together by my group, which really helps.

My group only had two weeks to research and design our solutions for the Avertro course project. Since Avertro hired me, I’ve revisited these ideas with a full understanding of what the company can realistically implement. Providing they’re feasible, I’m now integrating some of the concepts that my group designed.

If somebody you knew decided to study UX, would you recommend Academy Xi?

Definitely. The best short courses will increase not only what you know, but also who you know. The course taught me what I needed to know for the job – so I felt very prepared to put my UX skills to use straight away.

In relation to who you know, Academy Xi has such a strong network, especially with the career support program. The people involved in the Career Support Program have so many good connections and they really work hard to place you into contact with companies looking for new talent. There are so many jobs out there, but it often comes down to having a connection. It might be your course leader, it might be your mentor, or someone from your cohort.

Once I landed my job and recruiters continued to reach out to me, I forwarded those job opportunities on to my cohort. In the end, it only took three months for all this to happen.

For now, I’m more than happy with my professional life. I have a great job, but I’ll continue to self-learn and eventually look to progress into a senior UX design role, hopefully within about five years or so.

Check out Ryan’s UX Portfolio to see some of his work.

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen

By Academy Xi

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Startup Founder, Entrepreneur, Advisor — and now Physiotherapist turned Software Engineer — Barry Nguyen proves that curiosity, passion and continuous learning can help you get ahead of the curve.

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen

We caught up with Barry, one of our recent Software Engineering Transform graduates. He’s kindly taken the time to share his adventures and career transition in the ‘tech world’ as a learner and startup founder. We’ll also talk about why he recommends this course to other startup founders and entrepreneurs.

Hi Barry! Thanks for taking the time to share your Xi experience with us.  How did your career in Software Engineering take shape?

After I completed my health sciences degree at the University of Melbourne, I began working in a private practice and also ran my own physiotherapy clinic in the spareroom of a local GP on saturdays. The room was small and needed to be a functional physio space, so storage was an issue. Around this time, I caught up with my high school mate and in response to my workspace problem we developed web-based software to eliminate the paper trail. That’s the point at which I realised that software engineering could be put to good use in healthcare. Following 15 years of working as a physiotherapist, I decided to enter the healthtech space. 

The Australian tech startup environment is not as developed as Silicon Valley. This means it’s normally not enough to have a plan on a piece of paper and an Ivy League education to get funding, even if it’s a really good idea. Investors want to know beforehand that new concepts will solve problems and lead to something that sells. You need to have an MVP or a tested prototype to show investors that what you’re working with is basically tried-and-true. 

I quickly realised I was spending a lot of my own money paying other people to develop working prototypes. At the same time, it was tricky to find technical co-founders. There’s a general shortage of software engineers and developers in Australia, but they’re even more scarce in the startup environment. I eventually thought to myself, “I’m not going to do this anymore. I can’t keep moving back-and-forth, it’s just too expensive and time consuming”. That’s when I realised that I needed to write code for myself. I made a positive decision to get the skills and know-how needed to realise my own MVP. 

Having made the decision to upskill, I looked at what was on offer and decided to join Academy Xi. The choice really paid off – Albert’s been a great instructor and given me the confidence to think critically about my own software designs. I test the architecture for any strengths and weaknesses, and then make simple but effective decisions about what needs to be added or subtracted.    

It’s been a few months since I graduated and I’m now fully equipped to create my own MVPs. It’s honestly been life changing – the fact that I can now call myself a qualified software engineer. It means I’m less reliant on other people’s skills and as a result, my career’s become much more streamlined. 

What were the biggest challenges and rewards that came with the course?

The prospect of studying online represented one of the biggest obstacles for me. You encounter a lot of stories about software developers and engineers self-learning on platforms such as YouTube and Udemy. There’s this question in your mind, “could I learn all this for free on YouTube?” Honestly, the answer is no, you probably can’t. YouTube videos ‘show and tell’, but the relationship ends there. This course distinguishes itself through its involvement with real people. There’s a supportive peer-to-peer network, and you also get unlimited 1:1 mentoring sessions.

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen Quote1

The time I spent with my mentor Albert was critical. It’s not a very content rich course – it’s more like a process of problem solving. Albert did a great job of guiding me through that.
My mentor sessions with Albert helped me fix problems before they grew, which meant I could confidently move on to the next thing.

I didn’t know initially that you could book time with your mentor every day, but when I realised this, Albert made himself available to answer my questions as they arose. At this point, my progress accelerated rapidly. This training is distinguished from other courses through its immediate feedback, if you choose to get it. I think that’s what really sets it apart – having that high level of support.

Because modern industries are prone to transformation, I think lots of people need to be prepared to reset themselves at some stage in their career. I would guess that this is one of the key traits that Academy Xi looks for in course participants – that willingness to take on the responsibilities that enable them to effect change in their careers. It’s a hard thing to pull-off, especially when you have other big responsibilities, but as Elon Musk puts it, sometimes you just need to ‘chew broken glass’.

Even with children and a full-time job, I actually completed the whole full-time course in five months. Factoring in my situation, I was really pleased with this timeline. Definitely one of the biggest rewards was being able to enhance my career and not neglect all my other life commitments. The course delivery is considerately designed for people who have lots going on. There’s also a part-time 10 month version of the same course. This might be a better option for anyone who wants that balance of career development and lifestyle. If you’ve got the drive and you’re willing to plan your time, everything you need to succeed is available.

This training is distinguished from other courses through its immediate feedback, if you choose to get it. I think that’s what really sets it apart – having that high level of support.”  – Barry Nguyen

 Why did you choose Academy Xi and what about the course experience did you value most?

We had worked with Academy Xi in the UI/UX space at my old startup and the projects really impressed me. That’s the main reason why I picked you guys over others – I’d already  collaborated with your students and the work was of a really high standard. It made the decision very easy to make. 

This whole experience has given me greater appreciation for the people giving others the opportunity to learn and develop. I started the course with a well-established career but was keen to diversify. My time with Academy Xi not only enabled me to build the tech skills I needed, but also helped me coordinate a roadmap that made diversification a reachable goal. Funnily enough, I’m back as an intern now. Sometimes I feel like I’ve taken three steps back to go ten steps forward! It’s very humbling and I don’t take anything for granted. I’m adding to my skills and network daily with experienced professionals who are also more than happy to mentor. 

These days, my approach is to always keep a beginner’s mindset. The need to remain open to new ideas and possibilities never goes away. It seems to me that too many people gather a bit of knowledge or skill and then call themselves an expert. Whenever I hear someone describe themselves as an expert, alarm bells start ringing! I think a true expert realises that expertise is not something you arrive at. It’s an ongoing process – you can never know too much. 

I’m now noticing that companies in startup environments are struggling to find Software Engineers. Mostly because they’re demanding more and more money. Experienced engineers are often ridiculously well paid and enjoy the added luxury of a remote nine-to-five job. Luckily, the investment is growing and there are plenty of lower and medium tier roles available, which means anyone with the right skills can get their foot on the ladder. My situation is a big opportunity. Hopefully I can show others that you can make the leap from seemingly unrelated roles, like mine as a clinician, into tech.

Do you have any advice on course content and how you approached your work?

I think it takes a very clear, logical mind, and grit to complete this course. Maybe people who have been exposed to this type of learning before are more likely to succeed. They begin with a clearer understanding of what the course is going to be.

My experience on the course taught me that you can’t afford to work in an environment where you’ll be easily distracted. You really have to block-out your schedule, set-up the right conditions and keep a strong sense of how and when you work best. For those periods when you’re studying, it needs to be undistracted, deep, high-value work. This course requires an advanced level of critical analysis, problem solving and lateral thinking, so make sure you give yourself the time and space to perform these tasks to the best of your abilities.

The course is also pretty condensed – there’s a lot of learning crammed into five months. What you’re doing is really important and you can’t afford to take it lightly. Other than that, I would say, “don’t be limiting in your beliefs, just do it!”

How did you get on with your mentor and cohort?

Albert has a strong and sincere desire for all in his cohort to succeed. You guys did a great job finding him! Everybody wants a mentor who is available and willing to commit time outside of scheduled classes. Everyone needs feedback to progress in their learning. Albert was always happy to discuss my work and assist me with any problems that I had throughout the course. He’s not only knowledgeable, but also passionate. These characteristics really made the difference – it was obvious that he genuinely enjoyed working with the cohort and helping everybody produce their best work. He’s also a very holistic person and encouraged us to manage our wellbeing. Balancing hard work, health and happiness is probably the key to long-term success, and Albert made sure we kept that balance a priority.

Albert believes in long-term relationships that last beyond the five months. He’s still in contact today and pleased to help with my career as it’s unfolding. It’s like being part of a good school alumni where you make lasting friendships. The whole cohort collaborated on so many interesting projects together – we worked through hardships and brought things to fruition together. In the end, you walk away with connections that couldn’t be made at a networking event. The relationships are formed over time and really are built to last.

In the end, you walk away with connections that couldn’t be made at a networking event. The relationships are formed over time and really are built to last. ”  – Barry Nguyen

Why would you recommend the Software Engineering Transform course to startup founders and entrepreneurs?

For me, the course made a lot of financial sense. It cost close to $15,000, which was tax deductible, but gave me the knowledge and skills to develop new MVPs for the rest of my career. Gone are the days when I’ll be paying someone $50,000 to design one MVP without any guarantee that their work will match my initial ideas. For that reason alone, I believe most startup entrepreneurs will get real value for money with this course.

Student Spotlight: Barry Nguyen Quote2

If you’re serious about creating a startup that succeeds, you need to have the tools to at least begin building it from the ground up. This doesn’t mean that a CTO or technical co-founder will do all the coding alone – it’s more about making sure that you have more than just soft skills. People always talk about soft skills, but they won’t always be enough to get the job done.

As Sam Altman, former President of Y Combinator advises in his blog post to aspiring tech founders, “Non-technical founder? Learn to hack.”

My qualification with Academy Xi has left me feeling less at risk – upskilling is one of the best ways to keep your tech contribution relevant and valuable. It’s also given me the confidence to follow through with my own software designs. I’ve found that having the ability to do certain things changes the conversations I have with people. I spoke to a venture capitalist the other day and he said, “You learned that? You created that?”. It has the potential to completely change what you’re working on and who you’re working with.

What’s next for you, Barry? 

Well, I’m finishing my internship and planning on doing everything I can to help my company succeed. The ultimate goal is to be an inspiration to others and create a notable Aussie company in health technology of a similar impact to the local startup ecosystem like Canva and Atlassian. I’m already building out my MVP and steadily getting that ready to launch. 

As I go, I’ll also be raising money for the project and drumming-up support through skilled partnerships. It would be great to involve Academy Xi at some stage, so watch this space!