My Tech Journey - Jeff Auriemma

My Tech Journey - Jeff Auriemma

We are proud to present in the second month of 2023 the story of Jeff Auriemma, another amazing Tupu mentor. As you will see, software engineering is Jeff's second career. After being proficient in music and education, he dedicated his time to becoming proficient in coding and software engineering. He’s taken on a variety of leadership roles in that time, most recently becoming the Engineering Manager serving the Apollo GraphQL Client teams.

Stay tuned till the end, as Jeff is giving great tips and resources for juniors as well as for seniors.

What do you currently do for work?

Engineering Manager at Apollo GraphQL

What is your educational background?

Bachelor of Music in Music Education, The College of New Jersey

When and how did you get started being interested about programming/tech industry, and how did you learn?

I learned how to make websites from a friend at age 12. We started with Dreamweaver and then moved on to writing HTML and CSS. Our goal was to sell websites to local businesses to make enough money to buy lots of Pokemon cards (mission accomplished). Tech has been a part of my life since then, though it didn't become a career until age 28. I was getting restless in my education/music career but I knew I didn't want to go back to school. So I started taking software development seriously. I learned how to get a basic skill set and portfolio together through a variety of resources: reading old programming books from the library, online tutorials, trial & error, and crucially, asking around at local tech meetups.

Beginners: try some structured online courses

Which books/online courses/websites were helping you the most on your journey? Beginners: try some structured online courses (Codecademy, for example). Once you have some basics down, try reading some accessible programming books. Sandi Metz is great. So is John Resig. Reginald Braithwaite really expanded my JavaScript horizons. is a fantastic Ruby on Rails primer. MDN is the authoritative HTML/CSS/JS reference. Apollo GraphQL Odyssey is a great resource for learning GraphQL skills as well. But there's a lot more out there.

How has mentorship played a role in your tech career?

I've never had a mentor, but I have met people through the years who gave me advice or taught me something new. I'll always be grateful for them, particularly the ones who were encouraging me while I was still seeking my first software development job.

What do you wish you had known when you started your career in tech? What advice would you give your younger self?

Software is an asset; source code is a liability. Don't spend your weeks just writing source code, the most you'll achieve is becoming really efficient at building Other People's Ideas. Gaining domain knowledge, learning about your users, and collaborating with your broader team is the way to build a lasting and fulfilling career in software engineering.

What would you recommend to someone interested in starting with coding/designing/managing, but doesn't know exactly where to start?

In my experience, there is no substitute for communicating with the people who are doing the things that you want to do. Find those people and ask them questions. If you prefer meeting face-to-face, try looking for tech meetups in your city. I used Online communities can also be great enablers: If you're on Slack, try an internet search for "slack groups tech".

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What are you curious about?

I prefer to spend my free time with my wife and three young children. Since domestic life is my default, I've taken up baking and coffee/espresso making as hobbies. I also enjoy history podcasts and reading. I've retired from professional music but I still play occasionally.

The tech industry... can be intimidating and distant, particularly for individuals in historically underrepresented groups. It's up to all of us in this community to show up for each other and make a difference where we can.

Why did you decide to sign up as a mentor/mentee for What has your experience been?

My favorite part of being a public school teacher was helping young people expand their horizons. Recently I felt I had reached a point in my tech career where I could provide similar guidance again, but I didn't know where to start. I found on an internet search. The fact that they're a volunteer organization with a strong mission resonated with me so I reached out. It's been a pleasure working with Madalina and the team. I've had two mentees so far and we've built a great relationship. The tech industry has enormous wealth and privilege but it also can be intimidating and distant, particularly for individuals in historically underrepresented groups. It's up to all of us in this community to show up for each other and make a difference where we can.