Last month, Dan Sohval was promoted to Lead Software Engineering Coach in our growing US team, after just 6 months at Multiverse. We caught up with Dan to find out why he transitioned from a Software Developer to a developer of Software Developers, and to learn more about his Multiverse experience so far.
Why did you transition from a Software Developer to a Coach?
Firstly, I don’t have the most traditional tech background - I was an English major at college and my first job after graduating was teaching middle school English. I loved it but I also wanted to pursue my creative hobby of being a stand-up comedian. One of the reasons I decided to become a software engineer was so that I could live in NYC and do stand-up comedy, while paying my bills! I spent 18 months self-studying and building my portfolio before beginning my career in coding.
After a few successful years, I realised that I wanted to have a greater social impact and I missed teaching. This led me to Fullstack Academy of Code where I taught and managed coding bootcamps for over 5 years. Coding gave me economic freedom, something I wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise had, and I’m passionate about giving other people the same opportunity. I also love turning a sometimes intimidating or challenging topic in code, into something fun and engaging.
What motivated you to join Multiverse?
Apprenticeships provide a really interesting opportunity and they are underexplored in the US. In recent years, we’ve seen a huge shift in risk in the education space, from institutions to individuals. Americans who want to learn and develop their skills have to invest a huge amount of time and money into college or bootcamps with no guaranteed skills or career at the end of it. I really like that Multiverse is giving people another option through its payment model, meaning that employers invest in their apprentices’ learning
I’m also really excited about being one of the founding coaches in the US and helping our business to grow. As an engineer, and engineers are obsessed with scale, it’s one thing to build a solution but it’s another thing to build a solution that touches the lives of thousands of end users. And when that’s not just a widget on a dashboard but it’s a life-changing, educational, upskilling curriculum, it’s such a privilege.
What does a typical week look like for a Software Engineering Coach at Multiverse?
As a Coach, there is a diversity of responsibilities and you can play to your strengths and interests. In a typical week, I could be delivering sessions to groups of apprentices through a bootcamp style workshop or lecture. I will also meet with a few of my apprentices in one-to-one sessions and facilitate self-directed learning. I hear about what’s going well and what’s been a challenge at work - I like to call these “roses” and “thorns”. As a Coach, I really want to help my apprentices to grow more roses and troubleshoot any thorns.
Lastly, a big part of my role is working on the product side, building and iterating on our curriculum and making sure it’s state-of-the-art, current and scalable. We ensure that the curriculum not only meets the market needs of our corporate partners but that it’s also a wonderful and effective learning experience for our apprentices.
What’s been a recent highlight for you at Multiverse?
I’ve been working with a cohort of 21 apprentices at Verizon. They are about a quarter of the way through the programme and they are becoming much more involved in their work and they’re taking ownership of their learning journey. As their Coach, my role is also changing from an instructor to a partner and facilitator, and that’s a really wonderful transition.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career change into a coaching role?
Whatever your experience, whether it’s as an engineer or an educator, it’s going to be extremely valuable here. If you want to have a real human impact, especially in tech, then this is the place for you. Multiverse is giving companies the opportunity to recreate their pipeline in a radical way, giving more people access to great careers. From a tech perspective, this also means more engineers from diverse backgrounds, more inclusive and accessible software and greater economic opportunity for a greater number of Americans.
For example, the 21 apprentices that I’m coaching now will go on to shape the future of their teams and organizations. The opportunity to create these virtuous cycles is unparalleled.
Any final words of advice?
I’m a stand-up comedian and I’ve published a sci-fi novel. Another Software Engineering Coach makes board games and another is a club DJ. At Multiverse, you can bring your full self to work and whoever you are and whatever you do, we’ll love it!