Following a Passion: Jiho in Kansas City

Following a Passion: Jiho in Kansas City

How did you hear about LaunchCode?

A year before hearing about LaunchCode, I took some online courses on data science. I managed to get through some of it, but I was struggling to keep up with the programming portion. I never really had a solid grasp of Python or JavaScript, so when I found out about LC101 being offered here in Kansas City, I immediately signed up.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

For the past six years, I’ve be an operations manager for small e-commerce companies. Through my job, I did have some exposure to some aspects of our e-commerce platform, including some frontend and backend work. I’ve always had an interest in programming: I enjoyed figuring out how to write VBA scripts and SQL queries, editing templates, and other technical things that helped me be better at my job… but most of the time, I was bored with my job and it didn’t challenge me enough. I felt trapped in my career path, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. That’s when I started learning data science in my free time and looking for a way out.

I felt trapped in my career path, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. That’s when I started learning data science in my free time and looking for a way out.

Congratulations on landing your new job! What is your position?

I am currently in a 3-month technical apprentice program at VML, with a focus in front-end development.

I have been assigned to the internal projects team at VML. Our team is focused on improving the websites that are used internally by VML employees – creating new features, debugging issues, and styling the website.

I work on the internal projects team with another LaunchCode graduate, and we have been working together on a few styling projects. Working with the creatives and other departments, we have delivered webpages according to the specified design.

What can you tell us about your company?

VML employs over 600 people here at the KC office, and they have other offices throughout the world. VML is a digital ad agency, so their work goes far beyond the standard commercials and print media. VML has an award-winning team in almost every facet of brand management: social media management, website building, e-commerce, and many more. VML also wants to be on the forefront of new technology, like VR and augmented reality. The VML team puts no limitations on what they can accomplish for their clients.

What is your job environment like — coworkers, paired programming, etc?

All the teams at VML use some form of an agile framework, either scrum or Kanban. There are daily meetings with your team and a project manager to go over what they worked on and to bring to light any blockers. The internal project team consists of members with different specialties; some team members are in different states, or even different countries.

My team members have been very helpful, especially with getting acquainted with new tools (like Sass, Compass, Drupal, Vagrant, Jira, phpStorm), and helping us understand best practices (like B.E.M., componentizing styles).

 Do you feel the course you took with LaunchCode prepared you well for your job?

I took LC101 last year. I was a bit skeptical at first that one class could prepare me for a real development job. The coursework by itself is not sufficient to give you all the programming skills required to be prepared for a real job. But after finishing all three units of LC101, I came away with more confidence in my belief that I can actually survive as a front-end developer.

Units 2 and 3 contained topics and technology that were completely foreign to me, yet I enjoyed the process and the struggle of learning something new. The class also exposed me to new languages and tools that would not have been possible had I tried to learn on my own without a curated course and the support of the teachers.

Units 2 and 3 contained topics and technology that were completely foreign to me, yet I enjoyed the process and the struggle of learning something new

At my internship, everyday seems like an uphill battle because there are so many things to learn, and so many things I don’t understand. But LC101 helped me realize that this feeling is normal, and that it’s just a matter of when I will understand them, not if.

Overall, how was your experience with the LaunchCode placement process?

It went beyond my expectations. It was so effortless on my part. I just had to follow LaunchCode’s instructions. A week after I finished my evaluation, I was matched with a VML interview. A week after that, I accepted my internship offer.

It went beyond my expectations. It was so effortless on my part.

How did the process differ from your expectations?

I literally had zero expectations. At the beginning of the LC101 class, I had no intention of even completing the course, let alone getting a job in development. I was enjoying the class so much that I finished unit 1, and I was looking forward to unit 2. Then momentum carried me into unit 3. I enjoyed the JavaScript track so much that I finished the project. I just had to show up to whatever LaunchCode put in front of me, and I found myself at an interview with no effort on my part. Even if I came into the process with expectations, I wouldn’t have expected it to go so smoothly.

What would be your advice to someone interested in signing up for LaunchCode’s apprenticeship or job placement program?

I hope they’re doing it because they love it. Working in development is a constant learning environment. There are so many tools and new things to learn. Sometimes I can’t wait for the workday to end so I can go home and learn about a new framework or to practice on a personal project. I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly great at programming, but it’s worth the risk because I enjoy doing it.

Oh, and learn and practice git in unit 2.

Working in development is a constant learning environment. There are so many tools and new things to learn. Click To Tweet

What are your thoughts on VML bringing on a group of LaunchCoders all at once? What advantages or disadvantages do you feel it provided to your growth?

I feel very lucky that VML brought on a few of us all at once. VML is a big company, so knowing a few people from the beginning has been helpful. For an introvert, having a group that I could attach myself to has been a huge bonus I never expected, but I am very thankful for. 

I also work in the same team with another LaunchCode graduate. I definitely wouldn’t have been as successful had I been by myself. Our strengths have complemented each other well so far.

Our strengths have complemented each other well so far.

One disadvantage may be that an individual may desire to focus in a different direction or technology than the other individual, but may end up being tied down or linked with the other person’s desire or direction. Given that there are so many specialties and projects within VML, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

VML has a water fountain machine for sparkling water with different flavor choices and it is awesome.

/// Want to land your own dream job in tech? Head over to launchcode.org/learn to see how to start your own LaunchCode journey. We can’t make any promises that your journey will end with a sparkling water fountain though!