Computer Science Tutor Eric Xie

Computer science tutor Eric Xie went to TJ and majored in CS at UVA.

Featured Professional Series: The second Monday of every month, we feature one of our favorite educational consultants, psychologists, or professionals in a related field. We ask everybody the same five questions, designed to show you why we like them and to help you decide whether they’re a good fit for your needs.

How many computer science tutors do you know? None? How many people do you know who can introduce you to a great computer science tutor? Still none? Meet Eric Xie, who graduated from TJ in 2014 and UVA in 2018. He can help you do big things!

How did you get into this field?

As a computer science major at the University of Virginia I was part of ReinventED Lab, a non-profit using entrepreneurship and design thinking to rethink traditional education, and HackCville, a student-run entrepreneurship club that offers hands-on skills training to help people of all backgrounds kick start their business or career.

I saw the huge demand for software skills training, and combined my passion for education and technology into a brand-new course at HackCville called Source, which immediately became the most popular program that we offered and continues to attract hundreds of applications per semester.

Now back in the Northern Virginia area for my full-time job as a software engineer, I want to help students discover hobbies and careers in computer science.

I’ve taught a variety of STEM subjects, including Calculus and Chemistry. I’ve also learned from local educational consultants like Nancy Levonian and Paul Rivas, who taught me how to coach students to go beyond their textbook material, helping them navigate high school and build their unique story going into college through extracurriculars and leadership.

What do you love about the work?

What I love the most about teaching is being able to see how my students progress long after they stop being my student. Just the other day, while reviewing resumes from applicants to my company, I was surprised to see that a girl from the first class of Source that I taught was now the program lead. Another student, whom I tutored when she was still in high school just landed an internship at Microsoft as a sophomore in college. Being pleasantly surprised like this is so rewarding, and it’s the result of students going beyond the classroom and building that side project, or joining that club early on.

Why do people hire you?

Besides being proficient in Java, Python, JavaScript, and C, I understand the underlying theory behind computer science. I’m also able to connect programming back to the student’s overall profile, suggesting extracurriculars and leadership opportunities to pursue, so that come college application time, the student is able to craft a genuine and cohesive picture of who they are and where their interest lies. Having been on both sides of the hiring pipeline, I understand what companies are looking for and can make sure that my students are always a step ahead of their peers when looking for internships.

How do you feel about study skills?

To be completely honest, I wasn’t aware of study skills up until college. A healthy dose of confidence and sweat-equity contributed to my academic success. It wasn’t until college that I started to recognize the value of study skills, as both a technique to maintain my grades but also to establish boundaries between my academic and social lives. While there are study skills specifically related to finishing assignments and test prep, I’ve begun to see study skills as part of a greater set of productivity tools that includes habit formation, time management, and metacognition.

What’s your favorite piece of advice to give students?

Most people are aware of the importance of networking but are too afraid to actually utilize their network. My advice for students is to stop thinking about networking like you’re asking for something, but rather like you’re asking for directions. When I first heard this reframe it completely changed my attitude about reaching out to people.

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