The Professor Gets Tenure

I firmly believe that the best learning happens outside the classroom. Over the past few years my work experiences have proved this to be true, particularly in the last year and a half with my internship at Packback. Today I’m excited to announce that I will be joining Packback full-time as a Software Engineer, starting December 14. In this new role, I will continue to do full-stack development on our various products and internal tools, tacking exciting new challenges and increasing the pace of work. Reaching this career milestone much earlier than I had planned, I had to make some adjustments - thus I will be transitioning to a part-time student at Illinois Tech for the remainder of my undergraduate studies, with an expected graduation date of Spring 2017. I’ve got to step up my game to succeed both in the workplace and school, but as very few people get this opportunity I am going to try to make the most of it.

I feel extremely lucky to have gotten involved with Packback, one of the most compelling EdTech startups out there. My relationship with the company started in March of last year, when I was looking for summer internships. However, I almost passed the company on my first encounter, failing to realize how I was to apply for an internship there. A few days after I had indicated my initial interest through a site called AngelList, I got an email asking if I wanted to hear more about their contract to full-time position, which confused me because I was looking for an internship. Little did I know that I would eventually become full time. After getting things sorted out, I was able to come into the office and meet the team. A few weeks and lines of code later, I had an offer for an internship. What happened in that relatively short span is even more unlikely considering the majority of startups I looked at either did not have an interesting mission or did not have jobs which fit my skill set. But somehow I was able to avoid going back to the corporate IT world, so it was off to the races.

I learned so much the summer of 2014. Not just software-wise, either; I gained as much non-technical as I did technical knowledge. Compared to my first startup job back in sophomore year of high school, I learned exponentially more here and am in a better position to make use of all the resources available. My learning continued into the 2014-15 school year, and accelerated again during this past summer. I don’t want this to turn into a long essay, so I’ll have to cover some lessons I learned in future posts.

Despite not being able to cover all the lessons in a single post, I can talk about the amazing team that helped me learn those lessons. The Packback team is incredibly generous. Here’s a select few that I have worked with since I joined:

There are many more individuals that have helped make the company what it is today, from our investors to brand ambassadors to our rapidly growing sales team. I didn’t have the time to highlight them all, but I am looking forward to many more great experiences.

Going forward, there are going to be lots of new challenges I will face. Here’s just a few of the things I want to experience and learn in the months and years ahead:

My learning will continue in a classroom setting too. I’ll still be enrolled at the Illinois Institute of Technology, so I hope to take classes there that complement what I am learning on the job. I will be taking 6 credit hours (2 classes) per semester starting Spring 2016, so I plan to graduate at the end of Spring 2017. One of the things I will be continuing to practice is how to manage work and school simultaneously, which is going to be more difficult now that I am in the office 9-5 every weekday.

This career advancement will also have an effect on my various projects, something I plan to detail in a subsequent post. You can expect my activity in them to be significantly reduced so I can focus on making the most of the significant opportunities I have.

There’s been a lot leading up to this, so thank you to those who helped me get to this point. A lot of hard work and some luck brought me here, so I will do my best to keep it up.

Eric “The Professor” Tendian

Software Engineer, Packback


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