Tom Phillips Headshot

Tom Phillips (he, him, his) - Lead Coding Mentor

Musician. Software developer. Chicken sandwich connoisseur.

As lead coding mentor at the Academy, Tom is excited to support students in bringing their ideas to life. Tom loves being asked questions because he views every question as an opportunity to learn something new. Tom is passionate about expanding his knowledge and is always looking for ways to improve his skills as a developer. His favorite part of the development process is refactoring existing code to make it cleaner and more efficient.

Prior to joining the Academy, Tom had a background in software development and music. Before getting into coding, Tom performed on cruise ships, toured the country playing shows, recorded an original album of music, and helped start a recording studio. Since transitioning to working in Tech, Tom has had experience building web applications for one of the top automotive companies and worked as a developer and mentor at a local FinTech company that recently went public.

Tom got his degree in Electric Bass Performance from Berklee College of Music. When not in the Academy, you can find him on-stage performing or in the recording studio working on his new record. Tom also enjoys checking out new restaurants in Detroit, seeing local shows, and gaming.

  • What would your fellow mentors say your greatest strengths are?
    Bringing a calm confidence to every situation. When it comes to coding, even if I don’t have a solution or plan of attack, I feel confident that I can learn what I need to know to make it happen. I want learners to understand that not knowing an answer doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience and that keeping a level head and an open mind are both key to crafting innovative solutions.
  • If you were to offer students one piece of advice as they start their journey at the Academy, what would it be?
    The best skill anyone can learn at the academy is the ability to problem solve and be self sufficient. You are going to be drinking knowledge out of a fire hose and it is important to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The ability to find information and teach yourself is incredibly valuable and will make you an asset on any team, in the Academy or otherwise. As a mentor, if I can teach you everything you need to know to answer your own questions, I think that is a success.
  • Have you always wanted to work in tech? What is your personal history with tech?
    Growing up, I always dreamed of being a professional musician. I was very fortunate to live out that dream for a number of years, but once I hit all of goals in that industry, I found the desire to pursue a new challenge. Once I started learning software development, I realized the deep connections between writing code and writing music. Just like a piece of music is composed of an array of instruments working together, a piece of software is a symphony of different pieces of code performing together. When I first started coding, I realized that there is never one solution to any problem and that there is a lot of room for personal expression and creativity when you write code.
  • What was your experience with coding, tech, iOS, or entrepreneurship before the Academy?
    My first experience coding was Harvard’s CS50 course. I started taking it for my own personal enjoyment, but I was hooked before I knew it. Around that time, Tech Elevator, a midwest-based coding bootcamp was just opening a location in Detroit and I decided to enroll and used my experience there to propel myself into a new career as a Software Developer. While most of my experience prior to the Academy was in web development (Java, C#, JavaScript, React, AEM, Selenium), I have been having a blast learning Swift and iOS development!
  • What made you want to be a mentor? What are you most excited about?
    My dad and stepmom are both college professors and I always enjoyed school so I have naturally been drawn toward mentoring roles. Before I got into coding, I taught private instrumental lessons at a music academy for several years. As a teacher, I found that nothing is more rewarding than having a passionate student that is hungry for knowledge and being able to add fuel to keep their excitement growing. I also have a deep love for the city and people of Detroit and as soon as I heard about the Academy I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was very fortunate to enter the Tech industry from a non-traditional background and it really changed my life, so having the opportunity help others similarly transform their lives will be a really fulfilling experience.
  • Where are you from and where do you live now?
    I grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. After high school, I lived in Boston for a number of years and ended up in Detroit almost five years ago. I live in a beautiful neighborhood called Woodbridge just outside of Midtown. It’s home to beautiful Victorian homes and some of the best pizza in Detroit!