Alaskan-born CodeWizardsHQ instructor Julien Coleman was destined to become a coding teacher. His mom was an educator, and his dad was a software engineer. The perfect combination of these influences created opportunities for Julien that sent him on an early road to programming and created a lifelong passion for learning.
Julien’s Coding Journey
Julien started coding as an 8-year-old, an accomplishment not common in the late 1990s. He credits his parents for ensuring that a young Julien spent his time with value-based activities such as reading and programming projects. His dad’s occupation and interest in programming guaranteed that computers were accessible. It was 1998, and not many people had computers in their homes.
“I started coding when I was 8 years old, and the first thing that I did was to create a website. I began with HTML and Microsoft Visual Basic. I started with small concepts. I obviously had a passion for creating these websites.”
As his dad’s career progressed, the family relocated often, and Julien was afforded the opportunity to be exposed to the tech circles of a professional programmer. This expanded his coding knowledge and brought a sense of community to his passion. Suddenly, he had a whole group of friends who shared his hobby with him.
“We moved to many places. I lived in the Washington, DC area and developed friendships with kids whose dads were also in tech. This was back when we had floppy disks. My friends and I would pass information at school. We would go back and forth creating these small projects, and I would interface with other kids.”
He continued to expand his coding knowledge at an Atlanta parochial high school. He even started a small side business coding Myspace profiles for friends. Upon graduation, 17-year-old Julien enlisted in the Coast Guard. The Guard afforded him the opportunity to continue his programming education. He was stationed in Cape May, NJ, Portsmouth, VA, and Petaluma, CA where he attended Information Systems Technician School. His 4-year tour in the Coast Guard yielded training in networking systems and a position as an Information Systems Technician.
After leaving the Coast Guard, Julien furthered his tech studies. This time, he took a more artistic route with courses in motion graphic design at Expression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville, CA. He freelanced as a graphic designer and later attended California State University for cybersecurity.
Instructing-A Perfect Fit
In 2022, Julien was looking for new opportunities in programming and stumbled upon CodeWizardsHQ. He worked as a teacher previously at a Texas charter school. His teaching experience, coupled with a significant programming background made coding instruction an excellent fit.
Now in his second year at CodeWizardsHQ, Julien has taught all classes and levels and just completed his first Capstone class. He particularly enjoys teaching Python classes and cites projects that use Flask as favorites. Flask is a Python-based framework where students can leverage their programming skills to create impressive, flexible, and unique real-world web applications.
As a teacher, Julien appreciates the CodeWizardsHQ platform and curriculum. They contribute to some of his favorite classroom moments.
“Whenever students are having difficulty, being able to share screens with them, taking a step back, and breaking things down is so helpful to the learning process. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a teacher right there looking at your screen while you were coding. We also have access to an awesome curriculum that was developed in digestible bits that even an 8-year-old can understand.”
He loves teaching all of his students and has difficulty singling out just one or two.
“I have fifty students, and I know something about each one of them, and so looking at them from day one and their progression, I think they’re all rock stars. Everyone has the potential to get out there and be whatever developer or computer scientist they’re aiming to be.”
Hobbies and Downtime
It’s not surprising that Julien’s downtime revolves around tech. His work with cybersecurity has become both a passion and a hobby, and he competes at DEF CON. DEF CON is a convention that hosts an annual hacker competition. It brings talented professionals together who are interested in protecting software, computer architecture, digital infrastructure, and anything vulnerable to hacking. Julien’s team was impressively ranked 23rd in the world out of hundreds of competitors. He describes what it’s like to participate in the elite competition.
“We’re penetration testers. We sit at tables with our laptops, and there are certain challenges called capture the flag. Competitors traverse vulnerable systems and networks to find the flag or a token. To reveal the token, you analyze the security posture and interact with the server, sending it an HTTP GET request to see if it returns.”
In addition, he enjoys physical fitness, travel, and photography. Julien also likes to create tech gadgets and is interested in helping to expand the understanding and use of cybersecurity through new technologies and products.
Julien credits knowing how to code with providing both his livelihood and his life’s passion. He is enthusiastic about bringing that same knowledge to his students and wants that success for them.
“Learning to code properly changed the trajectory of my life. These skills, whether the students realize it or not, are the keys to their future. I want them to know that there’s no reason why they can’t be successful because I’m vested in you. Julien cares about you, and he wants you to win.”