A Sense of Purpose Paving the Way
After moving from Ethiopia, Hakim held several positions that didn’t accurately reflect his experience of credentials. Approaching LaunchCode with a sense of purpose – and realizing that coding is a genuinely good time – helped Hakim land a tech job at VML.
How did you hear about LaunchCode?
I heard about LaunchCode from a friend a year before I started the program. I couldn’t start the class back then due to some other commitments. When I found out that another LaunchCode cohort would be offered the next year in Kansas City, I quickly signed up.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I am from Ethiopia and moved here a little over four years ago. But when I moved here, I held a series of dead-end, low-paying jobs while still hunting for employment that reflected my credentials and experience. Since I couldn’t get my foot in the door of a decent job for a long time, I took an entrepreneurial route and started a small trucking business. Though self-employment afforded me the time and the flexibility to reorganize my priorities, it didn’t turn out to be the salvation that I was looking for and it eventually failed. I found myself at a cross-roads, at least career-wise. Though I wasn’t particularly interested in programming and I didn’t have any prior programming experience, my outlook changed when I started LaunchCode classes and realized coding was actually more enjoyable than most people think.
My outlook changed when I started LaunchCode classes and realized coding was actually more enjoyable than most people think.
Congratulations on landing your new job! What is your position?
Thanks! I work as a technology apprentice for a company called VML. I specifically work on a project for an e-commerce site for one of VML clients as a back-end developer. We use C#/.NET and Episerver tools on the backend and CMS side respectively. Our daily tasks involve implementing new features, content management as well as chasing down bugs as part of the team tasked with the overall improvement and the maintenance of a vast e-commerce site.
It is a challenging but a rewarding environment. You are always learning new technologies, tools or a platforms at an incredible pace. It is also fun to team up with a, fellow LaunchCoder, Jeff. It is always great to extended that collaborative spirit from LaunchCode to VML and create an excellent opportunity to help and learn from each other. Plus, VML has a flexible and easygoing work environment.
If you took a course through LaunchCode, which program was it and do you feel the course prepared you well for your job?
I took LC101 with a C#/.Net track. For me, I have some teaching background and I can tell you a thing or two about curriculum design. It is not be an exaggeration if I say, I was amazed by how brilliantly LC101’s curriculum was designed. Specifically, how it escalates in terms of complexity and relevance from chapter to chapter, unit to unit as well as concept to concept. And with a little extra effort, it can prepare you for an entry level developer job (or more) well beyond the expectations of everybody including yourself.
What one thing you learned in class has proven most useful on the job?
Never give up. It is certain that both in class and at work, you will face a cascade of issues. You will often be asked to do a task that you have no clue of how or where to start. There will be times that you will be tempted to quit. But if you approach it with a sense of purpose and a problem-solving attitude, there is no amount of frustration – which will be a lot – that you will not be able to overcome.
But if you approach it with a sense of purpose and problem-solving attitude, there is no amount of frustration – which will be a lot – that you will not be able to overcome.
Overall, how was your experience with the LaunchCode placement process?
In a word, fantastic. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it would be so seamless and so fast. The Company Relations team were great, especially Anna. It shows the extent of their work in terms of building relations and growing LC’s base employer network. What was also crucial is the other job readying programs that LC does, like interview preparation, assisting in resume writing and countless other workshops.
How did the process differ from your expectations?
My mind was blown at every turn. I always felt like it is too good to be true. I cannot sum it up in a few words, but one can only wonder and look back what range of skills we have picked up in a six months’ time going from zero experience in programming to designing your own minimum viable project (MVP). About the placement process, things were moving literally at the speed of light!My mind was blown at every turn. I always felt like it is too good to be true. Click To Tweet
What would be your advice to someone interested in signing up for LaunchCode’s apprenticeship or job placement program?
I would tell them just do it! You may not see its benefits outright, but it’s worth the time and the effort. You will only fully realize the significance of the step you took long after you started the program and will end up congratulating yourself endlessly for doing just that.
You will only fully realize the significance of the step you took long after you started the program.
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?
That actually turned out to be an advantage. It created strong collegiality among LaunchCoders and most of us have a LaunchCoder in their team, which made the on boarding process even easier. It is also good to have someone with a similar coding background on your side, that affords you the opportunity to help and learn from each other. On our team, for example, we have been asked to contribute towards products and deliverables that are at times quite challenging but will definitely help to improve your technical knowledge. There is also a team of awesome supervisors and advisors who are always there to help you and answer all your questions.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Keep up the good work guys. You are changing lives in the most literal sense of the word.