Meet Jonathan Florentino - a software engineer, Dominican Republic native and Bold Idea mentor. Learn how he went from building computers at age 10 to the tech lead on an engineering team at Alkami Technology.
What is something many people don't know about you?
I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and moved to the United States as a teenager.
How did you become interested in technology?
I've been interested in technology from a very early age. My dad has been in the technology field as long as I can remember so I’ve been around computers all my file. I built my first PC when I was 10 years old. One of my earliest memories around programming goes back to modifying the source code of an old video game with Borland C++ back when I was 8 or 9.
What did you study in college?
I went to The University of Texas at Dallas and earned a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Engineering.
What are you working on now?
What have you gained from being a mentor? What was your most memorable moment while mentoring?
Being a mentor has given me a deeper appreciation for the importance of understanding underlying concepts. As an experienced engineer, I sometimes lose track of the sheer amount of assumptions and connections I can make based on my knowledge and experience. Working with students that are brand new to the field and helping them understand programming and machine learning has been a great experience.
One of my most memorable moments happened during this current semester when I was working with a pair of students to help them troubleshoot a problem. I was having to debug the code with them to try and figure out what the issue was. As we were troubleshooting they were giving suggestions as to what could be wrong and telling me to try this and try that. I could really see that they were thinking through the problem correctly and the suggestions they were making were excellent things to try. It was great seeing things click and their gears working as we tried to solve the problem (which we ended up solving).
Is there anything that you wish you could tell your younger self about coding?
I wish I would have explored programming more as a kid. While I dabbled with programming during elementary school and high school it really wasn’t until college that I started to truly learn it get a passion for it. So if I could go back I would tell my younger self to explore programming more seriously.
What is it about Bold Idea's mission that really connects with you?
I was around the same age when I started programming as the kids I mentor. While I was fortunate to have a parent that could teach me, I certainly would have enjoyed having a program like this as a kid. So the fact that this is being provided to kids and helping them explore what is out there from a technology perspective is a mission that really connects with me.