Software Engineer Finds New Meaningful Career With Kumon

Radha Iyer had always been intrigued by the idea of running her own business. So when her job as a web developer and software engineer got to be too much, the Silicon Valley resident turned to Google to begin looking for a new meaningful career.

Iyer, who celebrated five years as the Instructor at Kumon Centre of Willow Glen this fall, grew up in India, where she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in commerce. After getting married, she lived in Michigan before moving to California, where she earned a second bachelor’s degree in software engineering from San Jose State University.

Software engineer looking at a screen full of code

“I was working as a web developer, coding and learning new programs, creating web pages and working with databases. I created a few small programs in game development,” says Iyer. “I got a project management certificate and trained a few project managers.”

She loved the challenge of software development, that it required logic and made her think while also boosting creativity. But she acknowledges she had a demanding work schedule, working long hours and not sleeping well. “It started taking a toll on my health and I could not continue with that routine,” she says. She realized it might be time to change careers to find better work-life balance.

So, she turned to Google, searching for opportunities to be her own boss. An ad for Kumon caught her eye because her kids had done Kumon and she believed in the program and its effectiveness. “I felt I could be a part of Kumon, and so I emailed to get more information. My journey started there,” she says.

Kumon Instructors who come from STEM – science, technology, engineering and math-oriented – career paths are fairly common. A 2022 survey of Instructors found that 18% of respondents previously worked as engineers before switching careers, and another 15% were formerly information technology (IT) professionals.

Iyer says her training as an engineer provided her with great problem-solving skills and creating software made her somewhat adventurous. “I like to change things and work with them. My motto is, if things don’t work a certain way, then change them! Don’t be afraid.”

Iyer also has been well-served by her approach to lifelong learning. “Learning is ongoing. You do not stop. I particularly love the bimonthly Instructor meetings that Kumon conducts. I always learn from other Instructors.”

Her challenges now include motivating students to practice their Kumon daily and coaching parents on how to establish that sort of routine at home.

Her students benefit from her STEM background.  “I teach them organizational skills, consistency and routine,” says Iyer. “Kumon is all about structure.”

Iyer says she would encourage someone from a STEM field who is considering opening their own Kumon Centre to go for it. “You will do something good for yourself and for the community. You will create jobs for the young and old. And you can provide a strong start, and the confidence to succeed, to people who’ve never even been in a work environment before.

“And personally, you will be a happier person and a more confident one.”