We loved getting to know him and watching his growth throughout the program. We remember when he started the second section of the program after he’d been with us for just a few weeks - his buttoned-up shirt and clean-cut haircut was replaced with a pink mohawk and more casual attire. We almost didn’t recognize him!
We were honored when he shared more about his transformation:
“My time at Alchemy happened during a point in my life where I was exploring and expressing myself in a more authentic, queer way. The supportive and encouraging community at Alchemy gave me a safe space to be me, in a professional/education setting for the first time in my life. Being out at Alchemy not only gave me confidence, but also a vision of what life can look like when you don’t compromise your identity for a rewarding career."
What were you doing for work before attending Alchemy?
Right before I was working in engineering as a CAD drafter, but also have worked for NASCAR in the pit crew as well as several other positions.
I think at the time I was looking for the code school that I would learn the most from, and Alchemy seemed to offer the most rigorous and longest bootcamp.
Did you consider other code schools? What made you choose Alchemy?
I did look at a few other code schools, I don’t remember which ones specifically, but I remember feeling underwhelmed by other choices.
Expand on your job search - how long did you actually work on landing a job?
I graduated in June 2019, I then stayed on to TA for six months. During that time I did put effort into finding a job, but as a (full-time) TA that was tough, so my efforts varied throughout the program. I had several interviews during that time, some went really well, others were a bit rough, but no offers. After my cohort graduated I had a few strong leads on jobs, a few didn’t pan out, but finally one did. It took me a LONG time to find a job, but I finally, after about six weeks of four interviews, I got offered an amazing job at Go. I love the people here, and they treat me incredibly well.
Which types of technologies and languages do you use in your role, and do they reflect what you learned at Alchemy?
Our entire current API stack is Node, GraphQL and typescript. We got very familiar with Node in bootcamp, but had to teach myself GraphQL and typescript before we hired our only other back end dev, which was a challenge that felt exactly like Alchemy, without the instructors of course. But we were constantly learning new technologies, Googling, reading docs, and debugging. Yes, Alchemy teaches LOTS of specific skills, but they also teach you how to ask the right questions and where to look for the answers. I had lots to learn from day 1 at my job, but I felt very confident I could do it because of the skills I gained from Alchemy.
Do you love your career? How has it impacted your life?
I absolutely love my work. I work at a startup with only one other dev on my team, which means I get to write or review every line of code we have. It’s both challenging, rewarding and fun. Plus I get paid more than I ever have, with a big contractual raise once we get our next round of funding early next year. They also decided to give us a five day weekend this week because we’re reaching a big milestone, and have been working really hard. I’ve never been treated so well at a job before. I feel like I’m earning enough money to feel very comfortable in a capitalistic world while working a very flexible 40ish hour work week. I have time, money, peace of mind, and energy to invest in myself, my hobbies and the people in my life.
Was your work as a teaching assistant helpful in the transition to your job?
I both found being a TA helpful and fulfilling. I enjoy teaching at a baseline, but I learned everything over again, along with a handful of completely new technologies. It solidified my understanding of many things, further increased my ability to verbalize code concepts, and still allowed me time for personal projects and job searching.
What do you miss most about being at Alchemy every day?
The community at Alchemy is very strong, so the people there are what I miss the most.
If there’s anything you would tell someone considering an education to be a software developer, what would it be?
DO. THE. PRE. WORK. Haha, but seriously, if you’re even thinking about a career change, it either means you enjoy new challenges and experiences, or there’s a lot you don’t like about your current job or career. Yes, going back to school is a known risk, but staying put has only a false sense of security. There are no guaranteed things in life, so if everything is a “risk,” then why not risk it for the biscuit?
Were your instructors helpful to you?
The instructor and TA help was crucial. Initially they’re able to point you in the right directions, explain the basic concepts that are reallllly important to have a good understanding of, and then later in the program they were able to unravel the mysteries and help debug really difficult problems.
How did Alchemy’s career services help you?
I’ve graduated from two different colleges and never had much interaction with career services. That is not the case at Alchemy. Yes they want you to learn code, but what they really want is for you to get a job and start a new career, and that’s abundantly clear from the work the staff, and specifically Shannon, puts into each student. Each portion of bootcamp had assignments where I had to actually think about, and do work that would put me in a better position to land a job. From trying to find companies that I actually want to work for, making connections utilizing a number of different networking strategies like coffee dates and going to / hosting meetups. I think without career services I would have been lost adrift in a sea still trying to find a tech job.