Michael Hueter recently made the move from Idaho to sunny San Francisco to join us as a lead instructor here at Rithm School. When he’s not busy acclimating to his new city or working with students, he enjoys hiking, backpacking and playing the bass, guitar and piano.
What is your role at Rithm School?
I am one of the lead instructors so you’ll find me lecturing, hosting meetups, managing company projects and writing curriculum.
What were you doing before you came to work here?
I worked as a software engineer at an economic data company based in Moscow, Idaho. Most recently I was tech lead on a project called Career Coach that helps college students make an informed decision while choosing what to study based on the what the economy looks like for their chosen field.
For example, on Career Coach you might take an assessment that suggests you’d be a good web developer. Then you can look at employment projections, salary information, demographics, etc. for your area. Here’s an example Career Coach app for Contra Costa Community College: https://contracosta.emsicc.com/
Tech-wise, I was working on the full stack with a team of 7 other engineers. I spent a lot of time building, deploying, and managing Python and Node.js APIs hosted on Amazon Web Services, backed by MongoDB and PostgreSQL databases. On the frontend, we used React, Redux, and a little Vue.js.
I was also moonlighting as a music teacher with a few guitar students!
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I really love to break down complex topics in different ways for different individuals. Everybody has a different learning style, so the first thing I try to do is not make any assumptions about how much people know or how they like being taught. Then I focus on figuring out what style works best for them.
What advice would you give to an aspiring web developer?
The best advice I can think of is to become comfortable with not knowing about everything. Web development as a field is incredibly fast-paced, expansive, and overwhelming — even for seasoned veterans. So, not understanding something completely shouldn’t affect your long-term or short-term focus.
For instance, a lot of people will watch, say a video on React.js, and they get caught up because the teacher did something crazy with their text editor, or used a fancy shortcut, or referenced some other package or tool that really makes things simpler if you know what you’re doing. But you’ve got to filter out that noise and focus on just learning one thing at a time if you want to learn anything well. If you set out to learn React, make sure you focus on just learning the core concepts of React first. The rest of it will sit in the back of your mind, and you’ll rediscover it when you need it.
What’s one interesting fact or story about you that current students would be surprised to learn?
I started out both hating math and computer science in high school, mostly because of the way they were taught I think. Then in college I started studying music theory, and that got me liking math. Liking math led me to take an inductive logic course with a fantastic professor, so then I started liking computer science… so much so that I went back and got a second bachelor’s degree in it!
Two things I learned from this:
1. Don’t worry about preconceived notion of a “math brain” or people who are naturally good. Many times they just were lucky enough to have had great teachers early on!
2. You can come from a totally different academic background and still get into web dev / software engineering. If you think it’s right for you, make it happen!