Meet Max Matthews, our new Dean of Students and Lead Instructor!

Hack Upstate
5 min readMar 1, 2022

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We’re excited to introduce Max Matthews (he/him) as our new Dean of Students and Lead Instructor at Careers in Code!

Many of you may know Max already as one of our instructors for Careers in Code from our first and second cohorts. He has been one of our many talented and passionate instructors that have helped to teach our students the fundamental skills needed to obtain employment opportunities upon graduation. Our students have instilled a tremendous amount of trust in Max.

We’re so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Max and take our Spring and Fall 2022 cohorts to the next level.

In his new role, Max will be supporting our Careers in Code bootcamp by helping to oversee services provided to our students and serve as the primary instructor to teach our students the fundamental skills they’ll need to obtain internship and entry-level positions and become successful as software developers.

At the same time, Max will work with previous instructors and subject matter experts to develop and deliver instruction for our two cohorts. Interested in getting involved? Learn more about the role and apply here.

Here’s a little bit more about Max.

Tell us a little about yourself.

After attending the Syracuse University iSchool for three years, I was recruited by a local startup, tuzag, as a rapid prototyping specialist and made my way up to CTO over seven years. Over that time, I learned what it took to be a self-driven learner, the requirement in any business to prioritize communication, management and hiring skills, and what it took to build a product from start to finish.

I fell in love with the small, well-networked tech community in Syracuse & Upstate NY that kickstarted my career. I’m excited to pursue two of my passions, solving engineering challenges to make the world just a little bit more efficient, while mentoring and teaching ambitious students who have a drive to do the same.

How did you get involved with Hack Upstate?

I discovered hackathon’s in college and attended as many as I could across the country. The idea of a competition to build something complex with the thrill of everyone around you trying to do the same fell directly inline with my entrepreneurialism and self-taught learning style. When I learned of Hack Upstate hosting bi-annual hackathon’s, I couldn’t pass up on the networking opportunity. I had previous teaching experience at a now defunct Syracuse bootcamp and was thrilled when Jesse & Doug reached out about an opportunity to teach at both cohorts of Careers in Code.

What aspect of Careers in Code are you most excited about?

So many things, where do I even start? I can’t wait to dive into a curriculum restructuring before the cohort kicks off. Using the experience of our diversified teaching staff and valuable feedback from students over the past two cohorts, I think we’re at a prime spot to optimize our curriculum to introduce a more project based learning approach. We’ll also be building a running portfolio so students will have functioning projects to show off to employers immediately after graduation.

We have opportunities to adjust our pacing to dive more in depth into topics that we find local employers asking for, while spending more time reinforcing key topics where we’ve seen students struggle and may need more practice to solidify the concepts.

Lastly, I’m excited to get back into content creation. Hack Upstate has a huge reach and we’ve witnessed a lot of success live streaming our classes on YouTube. I’d like to make Careers in Code more scalable and will be producing videos that students can watch before class. We’ve found our top students often rewatch our classes. Having the content produced in advance allows the students to control their individual learning pace while still benefiting from live instruction that evening.

What are you most looking forward to in the Syracuse tech scene?

While the pandemic was hard on everyone, I do think Syracuse is uniquely poised to come back stronger than ever. There are numerous programs directed at revitalizing and supporting the Syracuse tech sector that I think our students and alumni will directly benefit from. We’re fortunate to have such great partners at Syracuse Surge, the City of Syracuse, CenterState CEO, Le Moyne’s ERIE 21 initiative, and Onondaga County provide opportunity for our Careers in Code students and overall tech community.

I also believe the pandemic has proven that remote work does work and is here to stay. More and more people are taking advantage of the lower cost of living balanced with the higher quality of living that a smaller city like Syracuse can provide.

Finally, the Syracuse community has an innate way of prioritizing collaboration over competition. Between community and government organizations, education, and local employers, there is a clear drive to develop and share resources to empower the entire area. While Syracuse may be a smaller city, the tech network is welcoming and strong.

What do you do outside of Hack Upstate?

Unfortunately I’m not the only one who believes in the opportunities exploding in Syracuse as proven by the housing market I’m currently in. When I’m not working with CiC students, house shopping, and managing day to day tech operations and code at tuzag, I’m hanging out with my dog Stella, consuming YouTube videos at 2x speed, skiing, biking, hiking, and just enjoying the outdoors year round. Video, audio, and lighting have been a side hobby for as long as I can remember. I’m an Apple and Tesla fanboy and enjoy helping others with finances and other “adulting” tasks.

I’m always available for a chat if you’re thinking software development might be the next step in your career path, are struggling to learn, want to chat about what life in a coding bootcamp would look like for you, or just about anything else. Grab a time that works for you at https://maxmatthe.ws/cal.

Please join us in welcoming Max to our team!

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