Posted by Kübra Zengin, North America Regional Lead, Google Developers
Switching careers at age 30, after eight years on the job, is a brave thing to do. Lenz Paul spent eight years working in sales at Bell, a large Canadian telecommunications company. During that time, he found his interest sparked by the technology solutions that helped him do his job more effectively. He decided to follow his passion and switch careers to focus on engineering.
“I found I had a knack for technology and was curious about it,” he says. “Sales has so many manual processes, and I always proposed tech solutions and even learned a little programming to make my daily life easier.”
At 30, Lenz entered Vancouver Island University in Canada to pursue a computer science degree.
Becoming a GDSC Lead
When his department chair, Gara Pruesse, emailed students about the opportunity to start and lead a Google Developer Student Club at the university, Lenz jumped at the chance and applied. He was selected to be the GDSC Vancouver Island University lead in 2019 and led the group for a year. He hoped to meet more technology enthusiasts and to use the programming skills he was learning in his courses to help other students who wanted to learn Google technologies.
“It was my first year at university, starting in the technology field as a career transition, and I was hoping to network,” Lenz recalls. “I read the [GDSC] description about sharing knowledge and thought this would be a way to use the skills I was learning in school practically, meet people, and impact my community.”
As part of his role as a GDSC lead, Lenz used Google workshops, Google Cloud Skills Boost, and codelabs to learn Google Cloud and Flutter outside of class. Google provided Cloud credits to GDSC Vancouver Island University, which Lenz shared with his seven core team members, so they could all try new tools and figure out how to teach their fellow students to use them. Then, they taught the rest of the student club how to use Google technologies. They also hosted two Google engineers on-site as speakers.
“GDSC helped me with personal skills, soft skills, such as public speaking and leadership,” Lenz says. “The highlight was that I learned a lot about Google Cloud technologies, by holding workshops and delivering content.”
Working for Google’s Tech Equity Collective
Following his GDSC experience, Lenz worked as a contractor for Google’s Tech Equity Collective, which focuses on improving diversity in tech. Lenz tutored a group of 20 students for about six weeks before being promoted to an instructor role and then becoming the lead teacher for Google Cloud technologies.
“My GDSC experience really helped me shine in my teaching role,” Lenz says. “I was already very familiar with Google Cloud, due to the many workshops I organized and taught for my GDSC, so it was easy to adapt it for my TEC class.”
Becoming a Flutter developer
Lenz began using Flutter in 2019, when the technology was just two years old. He points out that there is nobody in the world with ten years of experience in Flutter; it’s relatively new for everyone.
“I love the ecosystem, and it was a great time to get started with it,” he says. “It’s such a promising technology.”
Lenz says Dart, Flutter’s programming language, is a powerful, modern, object-oriented language with C-style syntax that’s easy to learn and easy to use.
“Dart is clean, easy to scale, can support any size project, and it has the backing of Google,” Lenz says. “It’s a great language for building scripts or server apps. It allows for building mobile apps, web apps, and desktop apps, and it even supports embedded devices via the Flutter Framework.”
Lenz used Google Cloud Skills Boost and Google codelabs to learn Flutter and is now a full-time Flutter developer.
“I’m excited about the future of Flutter and Dart,” he says. “I think Flutter is going to continue to be a big player in the app development space and can’t wait to see what the Flutter team comes up with next.”
In August 2022, CMiC (Computer Methods International Corporation) in Toronto, a construction ERP software company, hired Lenz as a full-time Flutter developer. He’s a Level 2 software engineer. CMiC builds enterprise-grade apps using Flutter for iOS, Android and web from a single code base. Flutter also helped him further his understanding of Google Cloud. As he used Flutter and learned more about backend services and how they communicate with frontend apps, he increased his knowledge of Google Cloud.
While learning Flutter, Lenz built several apps using Firebase backend as a service (BaaS) because Firebase provides many Flutter plugins that are easy to integrate into your apps, such as authentication, storage, and analytics.
“Firebase will help you get your app up and running quickly and easily,” says Lenz. “I also used Firebase app distribution to share the apps while I was developing them, which allowed me to quickly get feedback from testers without having to go through the app stores.”
“The experience I gained as a GDSC lead and at Google’s Tech Equity Collective prepared me for my software engineer role at CMIC in Toronto, Canada, and I thank GDSC for my current and future opportunities,” Lenz says.
What’s next for Lenz
Right now, Lenz is focused on mastering his full-time role, so he’s pacing himself with regard to other commitments. He wants to make an impact and to recruit other Canadians to the technology field. The Tech Equity Collective’s mission is amazing and aligns with his values of enabling community and sharing knowledge. He’d like to continue to participate in something that would align with these values.
“It’s the greatest feeling when I can make a difference,” he says.
If you’re a student and would like to join a Google Developer Student Club community, look for a chapter near you here. Interested in becoming a GDSC lead like Lenz? Visit this page for more information. Don’t have a GDSC at your university, but want to start one? Visit the program page to learn more.