Alumni Stories

Learning to Code Abroad in the Time of Corona

learning to code abroad

Photo of Kenzie Academy Software Engineering grad Mike Alnakhaleh smiling at camera.Update: Mike was able to return to the U.S. since our interview for this piece. Welcome home, Mike!

Mike Alnakhaleh found himself in an interesting predicament during his fourth quarter as a Kenzie Academy Software Engineering learner. He had traveled from the U.S. to Amman, Jordan to visit family and work on his Arabic skills right before the coronavirus pandemic hit. But cases soared and Jordan closed its borders, leaving Mike unsure of when he’ll return to the U.S. 

So after finishing the Software Engineering program, Mike decided to join the Kenzie team as a Software Engineering Facilitator, a job he’s doing remotely while he waits out the global pandemic in Amman. You can read more about Mike’s trip on his Medium blog post, in which he wrote about his time in quarter 3. 

“It is kind of a weirdly unique position,” Mike said. “On the one hand, I was learning and now I’m teaching outside of the U.S., which has for the most part been going ok on the technical side of things. [It’s] more so making sure students are dealing well with the material. That can be a bit of a struggle in terms of time coordination. But ultimately, I thoroughly enjoy working internationally.”

Being far from home during a global pandemic isn’t an ideal situation. But luckily, there have been many bright spots for Mike— he’s gotten to spend extended time getting to know family members. He’s been able to immerse himself in learning Arabic. He’s had quality time with his father in his home country. And finally, he was able to dedicate extra energy and effort to his fourth quarter of the Software Engineering program. 

“I ended up spending a lot of time with my studies for quarter 4,” Mike said. “And making sure I reviewed more of the material and that I looked into Django more as a web framework. What I found really helpful with that was I was able to devote a good amount of time and understanding towards what I was doing and how to do it right.”

Mike, who graduated in July 2020, learned more than just technical and soft skills while completing the Software Engineering program. He experienced deep personal growth and skills he’s integrated into all areas of his life. 

“I learned there’s no substitute for putting in the time and effort because, at the end of the day, it’s going to show,” Mike said. “It’s going to creep into your work and how you interact with people. There’s a certain level of deliberation that goes into actually solving problems and solving problems in a technical manner and being able to take extra time to actually think through your problem before you even write a single line of code. It’s not only good for software development but I would argue it’s generally a very good life skill for solving problems.” 

Software Engineering subject matter expert Piero’s demos were Mike’s favorite memory of the program. “It was really nice to be in an environment where I was being intellectually engaged and intellectually stimulated by the possibilities of what we could do with what we’re learning,” Mike said. “I felt like quarter 3 was really something that exemplified that at Kenzie.” 

Previously, Mike was attending Kenzie classes on-campus. He’s enjoyed getting to learn how to work remotely while abroad and was sure to share some tips with us. 

“You still want to treat Kenzie like it’s a full-time job because you are learning full-time with the amount of time you’re putting in every day for the curriculum,” Mike said. “You want to go into it with this mentality. You want to make sure you’re at least devoting 2 or 3 hours as it directly relates to your assessments and your other assigned materials. You’ll also always want to be working on side projects as they relate to what you’re doing in the quarter. I spent a good amount of time in the quarter working on a Django blog.”

Want to hear from more Kenzie learners and grads? Head to our Results page to learn more about career outcomes and the Kenzie journey. 

Ready to jumpstart your career as a UX Designer or Coder? Learn more about our 12-month Software Engineering and 6-month UX Design programs, or check out our free beginner’s coding program Kenzie Free.

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