Alumni Story: Rediscovering Creativity Through Code

By

Duyen Ho

Feeling limited in her career growth opportunities, Duyen Ho took a huge risk. She quit her job as a project coordinator for an arts group, rented a co-working space, and set about teaching herself how to code. “I no longer wanted to organize ideas,” she says. “I wanted to make them.”

Though motivated, Ho felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of resources, languages, and frameworks that the industry demanded of its coders, including HerokuDOM manipulation, and Rails. “I needed to find a point of entry to give this new knowledge some context,” she says. To kick off her journey, she checked out the two-day Digital Essentials Workshop at General Assembly Melbourne, started going to the Female Coders Lab meetup, and discovered Girl Geek Academy. “I love that women are making their own opportunities in the industry, restoring the gender imbalance … and making tech vibrant, accessible, and fun.”

Through Girl Geek, Ho received a scholarship to GA’s full-time Web Development Immersive (WDI). “WDI gave me the foundation to write a program and build professional websites,” says Ho, who mastered both essential coding skills like HTML and CSS, and advanced topics like JSONAPIs, and Git. “I learned how to go beyond my own technical limitations, to identify, isolate, and break down problems, to think conceptually, work to best practices, debug code, read logs, and understand error messages. I also gained experience working in development teams and building web applications with empathy and humanity.”

When it came time for her final project, Ho saw an opportunity to bridge code with her creative side. Inspired by an imaginative childhood game “which captures the open source spirit,” she combined her “passion for people, code, and fiction to make a collaborative storytelling app” called The Story Collective. To power her idea, she used her newly acquired JavaScript knowledge.

Now, Ho works as a front-end developer at global consulting firm Deloitte, crediting the skills and concepts taught in WDI, plus the speed at which she was required to learn, as the reason she can seamlessly communicate with other developers. “The program taught us how to learn, so when I’m stuck, I know what process I need to go through to find the solutions that I need,” she says.

Perhaps what’s most inspiring about Ho’s major career change is how it reinvigorated her natural creativity, providing new and more satisfying outlets. “I’m ecstatic to be in an environment where I can use code for creation, communication, utility, and art. I can raise my hand to work on projects and develop new skills in UX, UI, design, and learn about AR,” she says. “My work has a level of instant gratification that I didn’t experience before. When I was writing and working in the arts, it was a long process of unknowns and less tangible results. Now that I’m building for web, everything is broken down into modules or components. I can immediately see these parts being built and it’s very satisfying.”

No leap is too far. Whether you’re from a creative background or moving from another technical role, coding is about flexing your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. “It’s not really about the code itself but more about the process and a new way of thinking,” says Ho. Make your move with our transformative full-timepart-time, and online courses, or dip your toes in an introductory workshop.

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