Pre-Med Student Swaps to Coding Career

Meet Tan, a Turing Alum.

Pre-Med Student Swaps to Coding Career
Graduated December 2014
Hired December 2014
Now works as a Senior Software Engineer at VMware

Timing is everything. Especially when it comes to changing careers. Just ask Tan Doan, a member of Turing’s founding cohort. When he defied cultural expectation and told his mom he was leaving a steady job in healthcare to attend an as-yet-unknown coding school, she cried.

When he showed her his starting salary out of Turing, she cried again. His desire to do something different had paid off—literally. While the financial aspects of software development are definitely a draw, the sheer scope of what the field offers is equally, if not more, compelling for Tan.

“The thing that keeps me rooted in tech and specifically, in coding and engineering, are the challenges that come with it.”

One thing is certain: Turing grads never shy away from challenges. It’s in their DNA. Speaking of DNA, if you are wondering how easy Turing was for someone with a pre-med background, the answer may surprise you. Not. At. All. But no one ever said it would be easy. What they said was that it would prepare you. And it did.

Interested in exploring a new career in coding like Tan? Check out one of our Try Coding workshops for an instructor-led intro to software.


When Tan graduated from Turing, he naturally stepped into a healthcare tech role at Aetna. Though he learned the skills he needed to be a developer at Turing, he came with precision already built into his process. “Accuracy is important in science and in lab-based work. You have to double-check everything because you are dealing with data that influences patient outcomes.” Tan continually double-checks when smoke testing things and places an emphasis on documenting tasks in software just as he did in healthcare. “Honestly, working in science, you become more analytical. You employ critical thinking. Those skills transfer across the board to tech.” But that’s not all.

“Possessing the technical skills is only half the battle. Being a good person and someone that other people want to work with is the other piece. Don’t overlook it.”

Tan continues, “If you don’t have people who are supporting you and your growth, the experience is going to be diluted.” He has found that to be true both at Turing and while working on various software development teams. Now on a frontend UI-specific team at VMware, he’s working with React and TypeScript. There’s a mix of pairing and solo work. It’s a highly collaborative environment and highly empathetic team comprised of people of color and women engineers.

“Turing is the most impactful, life-changing event that can happen to a person.”

Tan traded isolation for community when he left the hospital rooms of his past for the Turing classrooms that paved the way for his current career. And he remains tight to the heel of the Turing community today. Tan is committed to mentoring and creating nurturing environments for liftoff for recent Turing grads. One of the things he is most proud of is founding the TAPIDA (Turing Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans) group at Turing. It’s a collective group of students, alumni, and professionals that celebrate and support each other.

“We’re bound by this commonality. I pay homage to this community that has driven my life. It’s why I do the things that I do.”

Want to hire developers like Tan who are committed to building community? Meet more of our people on Terminal.