From Tutor to Developer: How This Junior Software Developer Launched Her Career at Paper

From pitching ideas to guiding QA, Junior Software Developer Iris Radu is afforded the opportunity to keep growing at Paper — and she’s just getting started.

Written by Jenny Lyons-Cunha
Published on Apr. 27, 2023
From Tutor to Developer: How This Junior Software Developer Launched Her Career at Paper
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When you read the title ‘junior software developer,’ you might imagine workdays full of writing tests and fixing minor bugs that don’t reach the senior developers’ desks. For Paper Junior Software Developer Iris Radu, this vision couldn’t be less true. 

“Well, part of that image is true,” Radu clarified. “Tests will always be important, and we should always write them, no matter our level, but the truth is that I go far beyond these tasks in my daily work at Paper.”

She often writes technical documentation, proposes innovations and new design patterns, writes code for in-flight projects and guides QA processes. Her days are rich with data science collaborations and fulfilling team-bonding events.

 

WHAT PAPER DOES

Paper strives to change how students receive support in Canada and the United States. Paper partners with schools and communities to provide round-the-clock unlimited tutoring for K-12 students at no cost to families.

 

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In her less than two years with Paper, the trajectory of Radu’s career has taken shape. She joined the team in 2021 as a STEM and computer science tutor. A few months later, she transitioned into the role of junior backend developer. 

“I am really proud of this transition,” Radu told Built In. “I always think back to my tutoring days when I write code for new features for our customers — it gives me great insight into what students need and what our tutors might need to facilitate their daily work.”

These days, Radu has her sights set on growing into an intermediate backend developer. As a longtime tutor, Radu sees her growth into software development at an edtech company as serendipitous.

“Now that I think about it, working at Paper was meant to be,” she said.

Built In sat down with Radu to learn more about her developer journey and how Paper has helped her hone her skills.

 

How does working for Paper help you make progress toward your career goals?

Developing software has not always been my dream. I wasn’t sure if this was the career path for me. 

You often hear of programmers who wrote their first code when they were eight years old — my story is far different: I wrote my first “Hello, World!” in university, so I had a lot of catching up to do compared to some of my peers. I am glad that, despite all those doubts, I continued on this path and found a passion for it. 

More than anything, I am extremely happy that Paper was the one who opened the door to the professional world for me. Most companies do not have faith in people without experience, understandably. Finding a company that believed in me — more than I did — was a huge confidence boost. 

 

“Finding a company that believed in me — more than I did — was a huge confidence boost.” 

 

I’m excited to continue in the tech world, ideally on the backend as a developer. The daily work I do at Paper makes me feel really secure in my abilities to do so. The projects we work on are impressive, and I would feel proud to present them to anyone. Continuous growth and continuous challenge are how I would describe Paper.

 

What makes Paper a unique place to work from a professional development perspective?

One thing that immediately comes to mind is how supportive the company is of its employees’ continuous learning. I am currently a part-time student and plan to finish my undergraduate degree at the end of this year. When I had my interview for my current position, I mentioned early on how passionate I was about the company and how I was certain I would learn much more from working as a developer than taking classes at a university.

My intuition was correct, but I never imagined that Paper would be so supportive of me finishing my degree. The company allows its employees to take study days off when needed and even provides stipends for continuing education.


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How have you grown professionally with Paper? 

My technical skills in the past year have been sharpened like never before, and I have learned much about the importance of communication in the professional realm. 

Not only have I learned how to code backend systems, I have learned how to use Google Cloud Platform, how to write technical documents and how to present my ideas to both technical and nontechnical audiences. 

Every day, I feel more and more confident in my ability to succeed as a developer. There is something very special about being in a growing company: You get the chance to grow with it.
 

“There is something very special about being in a growing company: You get the chance to grow with it.”

 

How are managers involved in the career development of their direct reports?

The managers at Paper prioritize their employees’ needs. My engineering managers have been massive propellers for my own career. When I mention I am interested in developing a skill, they work with me to create a plan for it and we look at the steps required for me to achieve it. It’s great to have someone in your corner, you know? Sometimes you take a punch or two from the code, but the coach is there to give you feedback to do better next time.

 

How has joining Paper positively impacted your professional and personal journey?

Joining Paper has taught me most of what I currently know about programming development in a professional environment, and it has also helped me develop my soft skills such as communication, time management and leadership. I have met many amazing co-workers that have been true inspirations and have led me to become a better programmer.
 

 

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Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Paper.

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