Whether you’re making the leap into a career change, or leveling up your current skill set to land that next promotion, you might be wondering if an online coding bootcamp is right for you. The good news is that General Assembly offers a range of beginner-friendly class formats (from full-time immersives to flexible, part-time schedules), and we have a course that will fit your specific career path and interests.Continue reading
#LifeAtGA Category Archives - General Assembly Blog
Celebrating International Women’s Day with Championing Women in Tech Panel at Tech Week 2023
The tech industry is a dynamic sector that encompasses a wide range of businesses and innovations, from software and app development to artificial intelligence and robotics. With its rapid growth, building a more diverse and equal industry has become more complex but more important than ever before.
Traditionally, the tech world has been a male-dominated space and this has resulted in a significant gender gap across different tech fields. While much progress has been made in recent years, there is still an obvious disparity. Today, women make up less than a third of the world’s workforce in technology-related fields. The recent tech layoffs have also been devastating, with the research indicating that 69.2% of those laid off were women.Continue reading
Celebrating Women’s History Month With Veterans and Military Spouses: General Assembly & The Adecco Group Sponsor Part-Time Tech Training
While the tech industry has made significant strides in closing the gender gap, there is still much work to be done as we kick off Women’s History Month this March. Women only hold 28% of computing and mathematical jobs in the US as of 2022, and make up just 34.4% of the workforce of the largest tech companies.
This month at General Assembly, we’re shining a light on an often overlooked segment of potential women in tech: veterans and military spouses.Continue reading
Investing in Women Entrepreneurs: The Jessica Vollman Foundation Sponsorship 2023
General Assembly is excited to announce year two of our partnership with the Jessica Vollman Foundation (JVF), a sponsorship opportunity for women entrepreneurs in the NYC area looking to gain technology skills to take their business to the next level. In addition to fully covered access to GA supplemental skills training, the recipients will join the JVF community of like minded women entrepreneurs. JVF offers specialized mentorship, including specific course support. The foundation is committed to investing in each individual who participates in these opportunities, whatever their stage of entrepreneurial business development. Interested candidates can apply here.Continue reading
Black Women Tech Inventors: Breaking Barriers and Making History
Throughout history, Black women have been trailblazers in the tech industry, despite facing societal challenges and inequities. Inventing groundbreaking products and pushing the boundaries of what is possible has evolved. In the 21st century, this legacy of innovation continues as Black women continue to make their mark.
To celebrate Black History Month we are highlighting Black women who are making a huge impact on today’s society. Keep reading to hear their stories…Continue reading
GA Gives Back: Advocating for Societal Change through Unity and Generosity
Giving Tuesday is an independent non-profit organization focused on unleashing the power of radical generosity around the world. The movement invites people and organizations of all sizes to transform and support their communities year-round by inspiring kindness and care for one another.
During a time of such uncertainty, a movement like this is more important than ever. This is why some of our employees at General Assembly came together to launch their own virtual giving campaign — GA Gives, an internal campaign for Giving Tuesday.Continue reading
Alumni Success Stories: How This Grad Used Data to Build AR Filters — and a Business
What began as a hobby soon became his own technology startup — with help from a few machine learning skills he picked up in between. Learn how GOWAAA Co-Founder and CTO Boon Jun is combining art and what he learned in General Assembly’s Data Science Immersive (DSI) course to create augmented reality (AR) filters with some of tech’s biggest companies.
My name is Boon Jun — I own an augmented reality (AR) creative technology company, GOWAAA, that specializes in creating AR effects for brand activations. I started off creating AR effects as a hobby with nearly zero relevant knowledge back in 2019. I got so hooked on AR creation that it got me to enroll in a GA data science course to help me understand how machine learning models used in AR works. Since starting GOWAAA in 2020 (after I graduated from GA), it has become an official Spark AR partner of Facebook and has created AR effects for multiple brands, NGOs, and government agencies in the APC regions.
What were you doing before you came to GA? What was difficult or dissatisfying about it that prompted you to make a change?
I was an environmental business consultant before I went to GA. Other than the reason I stated above, I also find that I lack hard skills that will keep me relevant for my future career. Furthermore, I have always been interested in data science and coding, so the Data Science Immersive course at GA was perfect for me!
What was it about data science specifically that intrigued you to explore it as a career? What were the defining moments that pushed you to move forward?
I am always intrigued by how machine learning models — such as face tracking and person segmentation — function because of my work in AR. Data science is the foundation of understanding those machine learning models, and that’s what motivated me to take up the data science course.
What motivated you to choose GA over other programs?
Among all the data science courses I have found in Singapore, GA has the most established and holistic curriculum, which gave me the confidence that the course will be worth my time.
What was the best thing about DSI for you? And the GA experience overall, both during and after?
The best thing about DSI is that it covers a wide range of data science topics, which helped me understand the foundation of machine learning quickly. Overall, I have a very positive GA experience as my instructor, Divya, was very helpful during the course. Even after the course, my career coach, Stefanie, helped me get exposure by inviting me as a speaker at an online GA event, as well as setting up this interview!
Since you graduated in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic happened halfway through the program. How did you stay resilient, especially with the state of the job market at that time?
I would say the start of the pandemic is definitely not the best time to start a company. It was not easy, especially during the first few months. Thankfully for us, our digital AR service is the exact solution most brands are looking for to continue engaging with their followers during lockdowns.
Tell us more about your company, GOWAAA. What inspired you to start your own business?
GOWAAA creates augmented reality effects for brands to creatively engage with their target audiences on social media platforms. Since the start of 2020, we have created over 100 AR effects for brands, NGOs, and government agencies in the APAC region. My interests in AR and computer graphics are what drove me to start my own business in this field. Seeing that most consumers are already bored of the usual video/image advertising content, I believe AR will play a huge role in the future of digital marketing.
You describe GOWAAA as an “art and technology” company. Can you speak to how you balance those two disciplines and how new professional or technical skills can create opportunities for artists and their work?
AR itself is already a new form of art. Here at GOWAAA, we combined the knowledge of digital 2D/3D design, understanding of augmented reality, coding skills for game logic and visual shaders, and also UX/UI to create all the AR effects for our clients. All of these disciplines are equally important, so understanding the constraints, duration of the project, and the target audience is essential to finding the balance.
If you are an artist that is not familiar with digital creation, you can use AR not only to engage with your audience creatively but on a deeper level through real-time interaction as well. With the support of National Arts Councils of Singapore, GOWAAA has collaborated with four Singaporean artists to transform their non-digital artwork into AR effects. Those are some of my most satisfying projects because of how all the different disciplines came together.
How do you think your background in engineering and project management prepared you for your current role as a co-founder and CTO?
Engineering helped me appreciate technology in general, which keeps my mind open to different technologies — and starting a company is not possible without some knowledge of project management. I am glad that all of my past experiences actually came in handy as I venture into a new stage of my career!
How has GA been a resource to you in terms of starting your own company? Additionally, how did the skills you learned at GA help you launch your company?
The machine learning knowledge I gained from GA helped me to understand how AR machine learning model works, which helped me manage my clients’ expectations around AR effect performance.
What has been the coolest project you’ve worked on so far?
The coolest project I have done so far is a real-world AR effect that GOWAAA created for Avène to promote their biodegradable sunscreen. The AR effect encourages you to keep the ocean clean by allowing you to plant corals wherever you are! The more coral you plant, the more marine life you will see, signifying the importance of corals for a healthy ocean!
How has GA made an impact on your career?
GA expanded my knowledge of data science and machine learning, which helped me understand how machine learning models are used in augmented reality. Since my capstone project involved using neural style transfer, the GA data science course has also helped me to see the huge potential of digital art.
With respect to data (or your company), what do you want your legacy to be? Is there a change you want to inspire or a mission that defines the work that’s important to you?
Most people use their coding and machine learning skills to solve practical needs, which are important and helpful to our daily life. However, I prefer to use the skills I learned from GA to create visuals that can make everyone GOWAAA (go “AAAH”)! I believe digital art will serve the same purpose as traditional arts but with a much bigger impact.
Alumni Success Stories: How Learning by Doing Led to His Own Design Studio
Any freelancer knows that good work gets more work. That’s why Sergio Gradyuk, a self-taught freelance visual designer, turned to GA’s User Experience Design Immersive (UXDI) program to take his technical skills and career to the next level. Read on to learn how he used General Assembly insights to strengthen his portfolio, stay ahead of competition, and co-found his design studio, Oakland Studio.
My name is Sergio, and I run Oakland Studio, a design studio based in Brisbane, Australia. Design and business are my two major interests so that led me to a career in UX and launching my own design studio.
Instead of enrolling into a university after high school, I designed an app for the cafe I worked for to help customers order ahead of time. After pitching this concept to a number of venture capitalists (VCs), I was able to get a sponsorship to pursue the idea in the U.S. for three months. I was young, naive, and completely new to the startup world, let alone the product world, so I didn’t get too far with it.
What I liked most during the process of building that app and company was the collaboration with freelance designers. When I got back home to Australia, I studied everything I could about design and started doing concept designs for big companies to build a portfolio that I could use to win some contracts.
What were you doing before you came to GA? What was difficult or dissatisfying about it that prompted you to make a change?
Freelancing was great. I learned a lot on my own, but I felt like I was missing key fundamentals. I was primarily focused on the web and knew there was a whole world of product design still to explore. It seemed super daunting, but I knew it was the next step in my career.
What was it about UX design specifically that intrigued you to explore it as a career? What were the defining moment/s that pushed you to move forward?
The first time I learned more about UX beyond the buzzword was when I realized it would be an opportunity to mix visual design with data and business requirements. The part that intrigued me the most was knowing that these key fundamentals would be useful to me in the future no matter which direction I took with my career.
What motivated you to choose GA over other programs?
Seeing its success in America with the world’s leading companies and most exciting startups validated General Assembly as the source of truth for learning the fundamentals.
What was the best thing about UXDI for you? And the GA experience overall, both during and after?
Learning by doing. There wasn’t a day that went by where we didn’t have an exercise to apply the knowledge we had spent hours learning. Also, our legendary GA instructor, Ron, was super supportive, dedicated, and patient, making sure everyone truly understood the why behind the process.
Describe your career path after completing the program. How has GA been a resource to you in terms of finding a job?
After completing my GA Immersive coursework, I faced a job search which proved difficult with my young age. I was eventually offered a UX position at an agency. GA helped me find opportunities in Sydney, as well as Brisbane when I moved back up. What was really helpful though was having access to all of the learning resources even after the course ended. It meant that I could keep refining and revisiting my process, and it has been instrumental to my professional development and confidence.
Tell us more about your company, Oakland Studio. What inspired you to start your own business?
Oakland is a boutique studio focused on brand, visual direction, and product design. The majority of our work is taking an idea for a product — whether it be a startup or an enterprise company looking to do something new — and take it to the minimum lovable product and beyond.
The inspiration to start my own business was seeing an opportunity in the Australian market to meet a global standard and relevance with work. I’ve always planned to start a business and saw this as an opportunity to gain exposure to startups, VCs, enterprise, etc., while focusing on what I love.
What do you love most about being your “own boss?” What’s been the most challenging?
The biggest thing is owning your wins and losses. When you lose, it hurts. When you win, there’s no better feeling to know that you’re growing and investing time into something you own. It’s always challenging and requires a lot of work, but every stage of growth brings something new to learn and fun problems to solve.
Do you have any advice for GA students who want to start their own business?
I had to sacrifice both my personal and professional life for a while as I got started. It’s not for everyone, and I disagree with the glorification of “entrepreneurs.” What’s important is to audit yourself, identify your priorities, and know that it’s something you absolutely must be dedicated to.
How has GA made an impact in your career?
If it weren’t for GA, then I wouldn’t have a UX Career.
In respect to UX, what do you want your legacy to be? Is there a change you want to inspire or a mission that defines the work that’s important to you?
The change I want to see is for graduates and designers to open themselves up to the entire sphere of design, especially in digital products. Don’t lock yourself into just UX — understanding and being able to execute in the whole value chain from UX to development (and even in brand and marketing) will make you a force to collaborate with. Keep learning by doing and jumping into those challenges.
Meet Our Student Resource Groups
One of the great benefits of a GA student is being able to take advantage of our Student Resource Groups (SRGs). Created in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these groups are designed to unite and engage students with similar interests, cultural backgrounds, and life experiences. No matter where you’re learning from, here are the groups you could be a part of as a GA student:
- LGBTQQIA+: A space to unite members of the LGBTQQIA+ community and Allies.
- EPIC (Empowered People and Inclusive Cultures): Celebrating dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, & ideologies.
- Women in Tech: An inclusive culture that values the intersectionality, perspectives, and talents of women and their allies.
- Parents/Guardians: A space for guardians, such as experienced, new, or expecting parents, or those caring for elderly, sick, or disabled relatives.
- Neurodiversity in Tech: Championing neurodiversity at GA and creating an inclusive community for minds of all kinds.
- Black in Tech: A group to unite and support Black members of the GA student community.
- Immigrants Plus: For anyone who identifies as an immigrant, international student, refugee, newcomer, or an ally who is interested in supporting these groups.
- Pets: A student resource group uniting all pet lovers, whether furry, feathered, scaled, or imaginary — all are welcome.
- Gaming: A gathering space for fans of console, table top, RPG, MMORPG, classic, mobile, and all other types of games.
Meet Lisa, General Assembly’s New CEO
As General Assembly embarks on a new chapter within a new world, we’ve turned to Lisa Lewin for CEO leadership at this shifted moment — and we couldn’t be more thrilled.
On her first day as CEO at General Assembly, Lisa Lewin sat down with Co-Founder and outgoing GA CEO Jake Schwartz to share more about her journey and passion for education in a Zoom fireside chat with our global GA team.
An Excerpt From Their Conversation:
Jake: Tell us more about your background!
Lisa: I have spent the better part of my career in education, art, science, and the business of education. I have always been deeply dedicated to impact — that’s the thing that ties everything together in my career. I’m a believer that the way to be happy in this life is to try to help others flourish, and I think education is a place to do that. I have spent time at big companies like McGraw Hill and Pearson, and I also built my own tech company that created curriculums for post-secondary institutions.
Jake: How did you end up at GA? What was your first introduction to GA?
Lisa: GA is kind of sprinkled throughout my career and has inserted itself into my life in random ways over the past few years. And I’ll just give a couple of examples. When I launched my own tech company, I was the first employee, so I literally had to build everything, including doing the code myself on our first products. I needed to learn and refine my skills in product development and design and took a GA course to do just that. It was an incredible experience, and so I became a fan way back then in the early days of GA.
Then, at Pearson, I ran the global technology and product team with over 1,000 people across every continent. I always had great faith if I was sending one of my staff to GA — engineers, UX experts, data scientists — that they were going to come back with immediately applicable skills. If you’re going to invest like that, you’ve got to believe there’s an ROI, and there was always an ROI when I would send people to GA.
And then lastly, just this year, I needed something fixed so I called a handyman I used to call all the time for help. I sent him a text, and he was like, “Actually, I don’t do that anymore.” He went on to explain how he had launched an entirely new, amazing career in web development by getting a certificate at a place called GA. So as someone who has dedicated her career to education and deeply believes in impact, that is a long-winded way of saying I’m super excited to be here and have been a fan for a very long time.
Jake: One question we always ask our employees when they join the company at our “team lunch” gatherings, is who was your favorite teacher you ever had, and why?
Lisa: My mother was a teacher who actually taught me how to read at home. And that was marvelous. She’s definitely the teacher that has had the biggest influence on my life. Outside of her, it’s a tie between my music teacher and history teacher. The music teacher, because he created the model that I hope I use now, which is giving feedback with kindness, understanding how to help people get better, and giving critical feedback in a humane way. And then, the history teacher helped form my brain’s ability to recognize patterns. History is about pattern recognition. How do you balance between applying what you know to be true and successful, while also staying open to new input, new information, and being agile?
Jake: I don’t know how many CEO transitions have happened during a worldwide pandemic. At GA, we’ve had quite a journey converting everything from offline to online in a matter of days. It’s such a unique moment, and I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the opportunity for GA, and how we think about our role at this moment where everything seems in flux.
Lisa: There is a genuine, legitimate need for what we’re doing right now. Yet, there are businesses out there trying to figure out what to push into the universe. I don’t want to be in that kind of business in a world where there is no shortage of needs. Why bother producing things where you have to invent or create demand?
In a world where there is no shortage of needs, particularly for people who are trying to get a rung on the economic ladder, for people who recently lost their employment or are in industries that have completely collapsed, our core mission to help people find meaningful work is legitimately useful and in need right now.
I also want to say one other thing about this moment, and about business in general. I just don’t see the point in coming to work and ignoring that the world is on fire. I’ve got to believe I’m not the only person in the universe who wakes up in the morning and starts “doom-scrolling” through the news. There’s no point (in) trying to shut that off for the workday. What I say all the time is that business leaders have a choice in “a world on fire”: we have a choice to be arsonists, bystanders or firefighters, and only one of those is the right choice. Businesses won’t solve all the universe’s problems, but we need to acknowledge that we are in a moment where the communities and customers we serve are experiencing a public health crisis, layered on top of a climate crisis, layered on top of inequitable distribution of wealth and opportunity. We need to ask ourselves how we can be thoughtfully and strategically helpful.
We need to ask ourselves how we can ensure that the world is getting better as we get bigger and better. That’s a healthy question all businesses should be asking right now.