July 2, 2024

Student Tutor Spotlight — Ben Harper

Student Tutor Spotlight — Ben Harper

At Atlas School, student tutors are current students who have performed at a high level within our program. Any student can apply, and select students are accepted as tutors, playing a significant role in the education of our students. Student tutors help students gain key insights into topics they are seeing for the first time, and relate to them having walked in their digital footsteps only a few months prior.

We sat down with Ben Harper, who reflects on his experience as a tutor and student as he nears graduation.

What initially drew you to Web Development?

I started coding with game development right out of college. Eventually a family friend heard that I was writing in C# and brought me on to help him with a software project. Then later when I was looking for a career change he suggested that my skills would transfer to web development very well. I liked the idea because I had fallen in love with doing projects and solving problems in my previous coding experiences and, like game and software development, it was the kind of work where I could have many different types of tasks and duties to keep my mind engaged.

What motivated you to take on the role of student tutor?

Since I had experience in coding, and I was a teacher before Atlas I was helping my peers pretty early on in the experience. When it came time to nominate student tutors, one of my closest friends put my name in the ring, and several other friends and peers encouraged me to do it. I thought it would be a great experience where I’d be able to teach and learn more and new skills as I made my way through the Atlas curriculum.

How did your experience as a student tutor enhance your understanding of the course material?

Well it’s a faced paced program so having that extra incentive to go back and re-apply the knowledge you gained 4, 8, or 12 months ago really helps to keep it fresh and solidify it in your mind. Not to mention the extra thought and care you take into learning a subject when you’re going to have to give a live code to a class of 50 or 60 students and answer their questions about it.

What was the most rewarding aspect of being a student tutor at Atlas School?

The most rewarding part of any teaching experience is when you spend time helping someone who is struggling to understand something and then it finally clicks for them. It’s like watching magic happen. That and the connections I got to make. Being a student tutor gave me a lot more opportunities to get to know the students from other cohorts.

In what ways did tutoring your peers impact your own learning journey?

Student tutoring gave me a lot of opportunities to talk about and debug code that was written by other students. It forced me to consider other perspectives and other ways of doing things. I was constantly learning new things from the students I was there to help.

How did the live coding sessions you led as a tutor help reinforce your own coding skills?

Live coding really helped with my planning and critical thinking skills. I had to be able to prepare a presentation, write code on the spot that would work and be knowledgeable enough about the topic to answer questions. It really forced me to gain a higher level understanding of the topic and be able to explain it in the simplest terms possible.

How do you feel your experience as a student tutor has prepared you for the workforce?

There’s a lot of ways it’s helped me prepare for the workforce. I think maybe the biggest way is in terms of time management and prioritizing my work load. Keeping up with my own projects as well as making time to help other students, attending meetings, and preparing live codes can get overwhelming if you aren’t mindful.

How do you plan to leverage the skills and experiences gained from tutoring in your future career?

Aside from my technical skills, I’ve gained and improved on a lot of soft skills like communication and time management that have prepared me for success in a variety of situations. I plan to use everything I’ve learned to be the best candidate, team member, or leader I can be.

Looking back, how has your time at Atlas School shaped your personal and professional growth?

I’ve learned so much in my time here, and it’s really flown by. I can’t believe I’m already preparing for graduation. I learned numerous technical skills and new technologies, I’ve learned about new concepts that will help me work with a team like radical candor, and I’ve learned how to pick up new skills quickly and efficiently. You can never truly master anything, there’s always more to learn. Expanding that growth mindset will serve me for the rest of my life.

As you prepare to graduate, what are your next steps and goals for your career in tech?

Well the job search has begun. I’m looking to join a team where I can get in there and start contributing as soon as possible while learning from more experienced developers. I’m eager to be a part of Tulsa’s growing tech landscape and hopefully be an inspiration and connection for those who will follow in my same path. In the meantime, I'll continue to learn new skills and build on my existing ones. I’m currently learning about agile and scrum and seeking a PSMI certification.

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