Alumni Stories

How Mike Lerner Went From Video Game Composer to Web Engineer

Flatiron School / 20 January 2016
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This post originally appeared on July 7, 2015.

Besides a serious (and warranted) love for dogs, Mike Lerner plays in a metal band, does mad push-ups, and is no stranger to Magic: The Gathering. Lerner watched developers make games at his work for years, and finally took the steps to learn similar skills himself.

After graduating from Flatiron’s Ruby 004 Adult Immersive about a year and a half ago, Lerner shares his winding path towards becoming a Web Engineer for Capture.

What got you interested in learning how to program?
I was working at a mobile games company for many years and I worked with developers a lot everyday. Seeing what they did and watching them go through the whole development cycle starting with nothing and ending up with a playable game was really cool to me. The whole time I was saying to myself, ‘I wish I had learned how to do this.’ Eventually I stopped saying, ‘I wish, I wish,’ and just figured out how to do it.

You worked as a video game composer before you attended Flatiron. How did that inform the way you work with code?
I wasn’t really involved with too much of that [at the time], but I think professionally what I’m doing now is really in line with what we were doing then, in terms of breaking tasks into smaller tasks, having to isolate deliverable goals, plan with teams, and work with teams. Transitioning into a professional development role was pretty easy so far as the ecosystem of a tech company.

What results did you expect out of Flatiron? Did you feel like you were able to predict what would happen?
When you’re in the program, you don’t think about anything else but today and the next day. So I wasn’t really thinking about what would happen after I graduated, I was thinking about what can i do to make myself better today? I was hoping that someone would want to hire me for my skills, and it happened. Flatiron kept encouraging me to be positive, to proactively make myself worthy of being hired. They gave me the tools to persevere. I really do feel that way.

What new skills have you acquired since becoming a web engineer?
I feel like the biggest skill that I acquired at Flatiron and that continues today is that I’m able to identify problems, understand the scope of the problem, and come up with reasonable goals to solve those problems. I’ve started working with multiple other languages throughout this process, so I feel like I know how to approach a real world problem and I know what steps to take.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Flatiron was a great experience for me to have a community to struggle with and to rise up against those struggles. I feel like I’m a thousand times better than I was a year and a half ago, still with a thousand times more journeys left.

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