We recently had the opportunity to visit with Yoni Messing, who stopped by Parkside over the summer. We had a great conversation about his memories of Parkside, and what inspired him to become a software developer.
Q: What do you remember most vividly about your time at The Parkside School?
A: Recently, I went through my old IEP reports from The Parkside School. These reports provided a glimpse into who I was as a child, what I was currently struggling with and many great memories. I learned that I was very outspoken and always trying to get out of the work that my teachers assigned me. I also remember fondly the special relationships I had with my teachers and the friendships I had with my classmates. Specifically, I remember my friends Chris Santana and Mathew Feldman and going out to lunch with Ms. Peggy, the music teacher and of course causing trouble on the school bus. Also, I remember having one on one reading lessons with Ms. Kate Gutwillig.
Q: Did you have any favorite teachers at Parkside?
A: The teachers at Parkside had a huge impact on me. Their patience in dealing with my shenanigans and their attention to my unique learning style made all the difference. Each year I distinctively remember I had a new favorite teacher. I definitely had a crush on some of them.
Q: What is the greatest thing you learned at Parkside?
A: The Parkside School did an excellent job at preparing me for the future. My teachers taught me how to embrace my learning differences and showed me strategies in order to overcome them. When I went on to middle school and eventually to high school, I felt more prepared than most of my peers, because I had already acquired much of the necessary skillset needed for my learning style.
Q: Tell us about your educational journey after Parkside?
A: After Parkside, I continued onto the Community School in Teaneck, NJ for middle school and then high school. Thereafter, I completed my undergraduate at the University of Arizona. College was tricky for me. Like many students, I didn’t see the value add in going to college and struggled a great deal academically. However, I met some of my best friends at the University of Arizona and learned a lot about myself. I learned there is nothing like New York City living and I could not live anywhere else for a prolonged period of time. I learned that I am extremely tenacious, and when I was in danger of failing a class, or had failed a class, I would utilize whatever resources available to help me pass.
Q: What inspired you to become a software developer?
A: When I graduated college, I was desperate for employment. I was working at a couple dead end jobs making $11/hour, but I knew that I could do better and I wanted better. About a year and half after I graduated, I was speaking with a friend and he suggested I might be interested in programming. At first, I shrugged it off, but eventually started to do online tutorials and somewhat enjoy it, even though it was hard.
Eventually, I took the leap and enrolled in a 11-week web development immersive program. In this immersive program they teach you the necessary basics needed to become a junior web developer. When I graduated, I still couldn’t find a job, however I was determined. I would go on three interviews a week and constantly practice and expand my web development knowledge all while I was working at a supermarket as a cashier. Eventually, I secured an internship at McKinsey and Company, a worldwide management consulting firm, which ultimately led to full-time employment with them.
As a technology consultant at McKinsey and Company, I solve business problems with technology. Sometimes I develop rapid prototypes, build custom software or coach clients on best development practices. The most exciting part of my job is working alongside industry experts and constantly learning about different industries. In addition, working with these experts allows me to directly incorporate their recommendations into the software that I am building.
Q: What is your personal / social life like?
A: I am actively involved in the Jewish community. This past summer, I went to Israel and different events for young Jewish professionals. I also enjoy learning new skills, such as going to improvisation classes or taking pottery classes. Honestly, anything to break up the mundaneness of the daily grind.
Q: How important is it to continue to support your elementary school?
A: Teachers at The Parkside School changed my life. My life would have been very different if I had not attended this school. It has been nearly two decades since I graduated and I still feel a tremendous amount of gratitude towards the school and the people here. It is so important to support Parkside, because they do important work that changes the lives of so many young people.
Q: What advice do you have for Parkside’s current students?
A: Today’s most awkward moments will be tomorrow’s funniest memories.