Guest Speaker: Jeff Casimir

Flatiron School / 6 June 2013


Name: Jeff Casimir

Job: Principal at Jumpstart Lab, Director of gSchool

Site: &

Twitter: @j3


What was your experience learning to code? I have a degree in computer engineering and, when I got done with school, I had really no more interest in programming. It wasn’t until three years later when I discovered Rails, then Ruby, that my passion for software was reignited.

Why do you think it’s important to learn to code? I actually don’t think it’s important — I’m not into the vogue thing of “programming is the new literacy.” It’s just like sculpture — if you want to great beautiful objects then learn to sculpt. If you want to build awesome applications learn to program. But I think all the jobs other than programming are pretty cool, too. 

How has programming changed your life? Teaching programming, more than anything, has been tremendously fulfilling. Some of my high school students went on to major in CS and get great jobs. Now, working with adults, it’s amazing to see them go from having jobs to having careers. If they keep working hard, they’ll never have a problem getting great work and earning good money for the rest of their working life. That’s what keeps me moving forward.

What’s your favorite “technical” and non-technical” interview question when you’re hiring developers? I don’t really believe in technical questions. In non-technical, it’s “What, besides programming, do you want to be great at and why?” I’m most interested in rounded individuals with a good perspective on life. Answers like “mother” are a lot more compelling to me than “guitar.”

Who’s your favorite programmer, and why? Damn, that’s a tough question. Maybe Aaron Patterson? I love that he has to deal with people constantly complaining but does it with a smile on his face. This community owes him big time.

What is your favorite app that you’ve ever built? I built a “Student Information System” (SIS) when I was running a middle school that handled all our attendance, grades, report cards, scheduling, discipline, you name it — the entire backend of a school. It was where I really re-learned how to program.

How did you hear about the Flatiron School? We’re competitors 🙂

Any advice you have for Flatiron students on learning to program? Put your heart into people, not computers. Software is only a tool, people are what matter.

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