Joseph is true creative who found Alchemy through CreativeMornings, a free monthly breakfast lecture series for the Portland creative community. At Alchemy, we believe there’s a unique crossover opportunity between our program and creative individuals who may be seeking development experience, and Joseph proves that connection.
For Joseph, part of the joy in being a Front End Engineer is the visual confirmation of the design work he does, as well as the ability to use React and CSS, and developing UI/UX components.
We miss enjoyingJoseph’s positive energy on campus, but we are grateful to have been part of the career journey for such a helpful and determined human being.
What were you doing before attending Alchemy?
Before attending Alchemy I spent five years as a web designer at a tech company followed by an eight-month stint as a realtor.
When I quit real estate, I knew I wanted to venture back into the tech world. I wanted to find a job that would allow me to do more of the HTML/CSS coding I was able to do at my first job, however I knew that I needed to learn more complex languages to achieve that goal.
I stumbled upon Alchemy while attending a CreativeMornings meetup that Alchemy was sponsoring. In the past, I had not heard good things about code schools and I thought that I would be bored in a code school, having already spent a significant amount of time working in coding languages in my design job. Spoiler alert: this turned out to be wildly untrue.
In the end, I told myself I would just check the box before deciding it wasn’t for me. I went in to meet with School Director Megan Nelson and in about 45 seconds I knew Alchemy was something I wanted to be a part of. The buzz about the room was incredible and I had a gut feeling that the Alchemy Code Lab program was for me.
What made you choose Alchemy over other coding schools?
Alchemy was the first place I looked into and instantly became the standard I was comparing other schools to. I researched other schools after chatting with Megan, but nothing else compared to what Alchemy offers, including their amazing career services.
What was your job search like?
I graduated on March 3rd, 2020, as the last cohort to go through Alchemy 100% in-person. Initially, the job search was bumpy since the world changed just days after we finished the program and job postings vanished for a bit.
About six weeks after graduation I was verbally offered a full-time position as a front end developer for a large sportswear company that wound up being rescinded a few days later due to economic uncertainty. It was pretty heartbreaking. But just a few weeks later in May 2020 I accepted a full-time contract role as a software engineer before starting full-time with Shaker in November 2020.
Long story short, I was offered several positions and accepted full-time work within months of graduation.
What is your position, and how long have you been there?
Which technologies and languages do you use in your role?
In my role I use React, Material UI, and GraphQL for our front end. I’m proud to say I learned React at Alchemy and Material UI is built with React’s framework so it’s super easy to pick up on. GraphQL was fairly new to me but luckily we learned all about “CRUD” routing at Alchemy, so I was quickly able to get moving with it by just reading GraphQL’s documentation. I felt really well prepared to excel in my position.
Do you love your work?
I do love my work. It’s a lot of fun and my role is mentally stimulating. I’m someone who loves front end development because it’s exciting to get that visual confirmation that your code works. I also love having the opportunity to explore in UI/UX and CSS.
I’ve found the tech industry to be a balanced sector to build a career in because the folks truly value a work-life balance. I also get paid well and that’s a really amazing achievement.
What do you miss most about being at Alchemy every day?
I miss the friends I made along the way. I still chat with close friends I made in my Alchemy cohort regularly on Slack and I can’t wait to be in the Alchemy space again someday and see folks in person.
Of course, I also miss that buzzing energy and visceral excitement I mentioned earlier and “Cookie Wednesdays” (if you know, you know).
What was your experience with Alchemy’s instructors?
I can’t stress enough that Alchemy professors are incredibly amazing and helpful. Instructors, Ryan and Dani are legends, icons, and stars. I miss them both. I was also fortunate to have wonderful TA’s during my Alchemy experience.
Everyone on staff was always insightful, patient and kind in their approach to helping us through labs and projects. You can tell that Alchemy instructors enjoy their jobs and truly believe coding is for everyone.
Were Alchemy's career services helpful for you?
Was career services helpful? Is that even a question? Career services is a game changer! It seems a lot of code schools dump graduates into the real world with limited knowledge of coding but not necessarily with the tools needed to actually find work.
For months after graduation, Outreach Director Shannon Rasimas coached me through interviews, helped me tweak my resume, and even connected me with a network that led to full-time employment.
I received all this one-on-one support, after the rigorous career coaching offered within the program, mock interviews, resume building, and so much more. For a lot of folks, the career services element of Alchemy is what pulls them into the program and for good reason.
If there’s anything you would tell someone considering an education to be a software developer, what would it be?
First, I would first tell them to check out Alchemy Code Lab.
I’ve had a couple of conversations with folks in the last year who’ve said things like “Coding seems kind of cool, but I don’t think I could do it.”
One of the exciting things about Alchemy is meeting folks who’ve decided to pursue the program from all different walks of life and career backgrounds. In my cohort alone there were teachers, a neuroscientist, actors, nonprofit workers, music producers, doctors, a diving instructor and more.
Currently, all of those graduates are actively working as software developers. Coding is for everyone and anyone can learn to code.