Alumni Interview: Melody & Grace


Meet Grace Kim (left) & Melody Tran (right), graduates of our Front-End Web Development course in NYC, both currently working at ExpandTheRoom.

1. What were you doing before you came to GA?

Grace: I was working at Duggal, a printing company, as a graphic designer/marketing associate. I have always had the design background, but after a weekend Hackathon for UNICEF about two years ago, I knew I wanted to jump further into web development. The fact that you could use technology and design together to develop a tool that can benefit and change people’s lives inspired me personally.

Melody: I was working at ExpandTheRoom (ETR) at the time, learning the ropes as an associate producer and growing accustomed to working at a creative agency rather than the traditional media planning and buying background that I came from.

2. What brought you to GA?

Grace: I had already started coding on my own for about a year, studying by myself using online resources. I wanted a stronger grasp of the fundamental structuring after learning all of the elements and basic structure. I also wanted to develop a stronger knowledge of JavaScript and JQuery.

Melody: I wanted to better understand what my development teams were doing day in and day out. As a producer at ETR, I have a unique opportunity to do more than just project manage and push papers around. I really get to be a part of a larger team that is constantly striving to stay at the cusp of new technology that will help our partners and clients reach their goals. Coming from digital media planning and having a passion for all things digital already, I had a very limited knowledge of HTML. I wanted to expand upon that knowledge so that I could become a better producer.

3. What do you think was the best thing you got out of taking FEWD?

Grace: Other than the awesome teacher and teacher’s assistants I got to meet, I would have to say I got what I came for. I definitely became a stronger developer while being at GA. I also got to meet and network with a lot of cool people I wouldn’t normally get to meet in everyday circumstances. GA is great for bettering yourself mentally and socially. It’s like a big family and we are encouraged to reach out to each other.

Melody: Meeting the people. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot about FEWD of course and I’m very proud of the work I accomplished throughout the course of the class, but the people I’ve kept in touch with that I met in class have been invaluable resources to me — both professionally and personally.

4. It’s great to hear that our students are helping each other get jobs. Could you tell us more about how you found your job?

Grace: Melody asked me if one day I knew of anyone seeking a front-end developer position. She had no idea I was seeking a new position to grow as a developer, but not looking actively. She told me about ETR and it just kind of all fell into place. I loved everything about ETR. The small but growing digital agency was the type of environment I wanted to be in. They seemed to share the same morals, goals, and company aesthetics I was looking for and we fit well together.

Melody: Grace and I met towards the end of FEWD. We were so heads down throughout the course that we didn’t get to talk much about things outside of class until we did a class “graduation” happy hour. We kept in touch after that, met up a few times to code together on separate personal projects, and became good friends. I was g-chatting with her one day and asked if she knew anyone who was looking for a job in front-end development. Her response was, “Hi! Me! Right here!” I told my managers that Grace had a design background, but was looking to change career paths. Grace sent me her portfolio as well as her resume and we got the ball rolling on the interview process. A few short weeks later, she called to tell me that we’d made her an offer.

5. Any challenges that you didn’t expect during your transition?

Grace: I start my new position in the beginning of January 2014 so I will have to get back to you on that then!

6. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself throughout this experience?

Grace: My persistence with solving problems while coding was stronger than I thought. The interview process was different than anything I had gone through before. I never had to go through coding tests since this was my first full-time developer position. It wasn’t the easiest of challenges but I kept at it and didn’t let the frustration beat me. I learned a lot about myself, and realized how tenacious I could be. I learned to figure out my mistakes and make the appropriate corrections, adjusting myself instead of feeling frustrated and calling it quits.

7. How has FEWD impacted your work?

Melody: FEWD has given me a lot more insight into the work my company produces. I have been able to participate in more meaningful ways during strategy sessions and it has brought my development team and I closer together. We are able to troubleshoot together and collaborate more effectively to come up with intelligent and practical solutions for our clients that also happen to look pretty fantastic, too.

8. Any advice for any peers who are interested in becoming developers?

Grace: Don’t let the frustration of making mistakes get to you. Coding is all about being frustrated but having fun at the same time. When you finally solve a problem and it just clicks in your brain it is the best feeling in the world so stick with it. With time, it will get easier.

Melody: Google is your best friend! Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand. Practice. Keep practicing. Keep in touch with people you meet. Did I mention practice?

9. Who is your favorite teacher?

Grace: I only had one teacher but I think he would still be my favorite teacher anyway. You rock, Emerson Taymor!

Melody: I’ve only had one, but he was absolutely incredible – Emerson Taymor. You’re awesome, Emerson.

10. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Grace: Listening to classical music while coding.

Melody: British pop. I’m not even sorry about it.

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