West-MEC student says Guten Tag from Germany
From working at Chick-fil-A to accepting a full-stack developer position in Berlin, Germany, West-MEC alumnus Max Woods has laid an excellent foundation for his future.
Woods’ accepted his role with the delivery app Delivery Hero, which is the Grubhub/Doordash of Europe, Asia, and Canada. Just a couple of years ago, he couldn’t have imagined he’d be where he is now. Before his time at West-MEC, Woods, like most high schoolers, was a little aimless on what exactly he wanted to do in the future. On a whim, he joined the coding program at West-MEC during the 2018-19 school year.
“I didn’t go into the program thinking I knew a lot; I was just tinkering in my free time. But I got ahead pretty easily and still liked to code when I wasn’t at West-MEC,” said Woods.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is Wood’s favorite area of computer science. Even though he wasn’t learning about AI at West-MEC, Woods taught himself how to reprogram a simple game, so it learned from its mistakes.
“The algorithm I used was basically the survival of the fittest. Every time it got closer to winning the game, it passed down that knowledge until it achieved the goal,” said Woods.
Knowing that Woods was doing well in the program and spent most of his nights studying complex computer science problems, former West-MEC coding instructor Patrick Clawson knew that Woods was ready for a more significant challenge.
“Once we found out about the AI project, we felt it was incumbent upon us to recommend that he be moved into the second year of the program, something that we had never done before,” said Clawson.
But Woods didn’t get through West-MEC with no problems. It was hard. He had over an hour commute roundtrip every day, something that is tough for anybody, not to mention a high schooler. When he was done with his instruction for the day, he would head to work at Chick-Fil-A.
But none of that mattered to Woods. Coming to West-MEC didn’t feel like a chore. He looked forward to seeing his friends and solving new coding problems. He loved coming every single day he could.
“Everyone in my class was interested in the same thing as me, and the relationship I built with Mr. Clawson was awesome. Even if I was sick, I wanted to come to West-MEC,” said Woods.
Like many students attracted to West-MEC, Woods desired a more hands-on approach to learning than is typically offered in the traditional classroom. Gaining that experience and learning firsthand while moving into the second year of the program allowed Woods to attain all the available certifications necessary for a career in computer science. He knew that earning every certification he could would help him in his job search.
“Max found a place where he had a task and purpose, something that sparked that desire to learn and intrinsically motivate himself,” said Clawson.
But the job postings in Phoenix weren’t yielding the results Woods hoped for after his time with West-MEC. On a whim, he decided to broaden his search from Phoenix to international. Shortly after, Woods went through a whirlwind of events that changed his life.
“I just wanted to get my resume out there. I knew the certifications I got from West-MEC would help me stand out, and I had some projects I was willing to show off,” said Woods.
Woods will works on two of Delivery Hero’s apps, Foodora and Foodpanda, to ensure they’re safe, quick, and easy to use. The headquarters of Delivery Hero is based in Berlin, Germany, where Woods now calls home.
All Woods needed was a little guidance in the right direction and the coding program at West-MEC was able to give him the focus he needed.
“After getting to know him, I knew he was going to do something incredible. He’s brilliant. Sometimes he would teach the teachers things,” said Clawson. “He was a kid with minimal coding experience and just needed someone to tell him he could do it. I’m happy he came to West-MEC and I got the opportunity to get to know Max.”
Nowadays, Woods has already been promoted a few times at Delivery Hero, met a girl he has been dating for a while now, and has been living out a life in Europe he couldn’t have foreseen just a couple of years prior.