Alumni Story: Making a Greater Impact With Data

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Richard Goodly

Richard Goodly longed to have a positive impact on the world around him. He valued the personal interaction and problem-solving of his customer service and retail jobs, but felt limited by the reach of his influence and lack of growth opportunities. “I could only serve one customer at a time as a barista, and daily coffee intake isn’t very significant in the scope of the world,” says Goodly. And it was while working as a data-entry clerk that he became more curious about data’s endless potential for positive influence in our society. “I wanted to know where the information was coming from, where it was going, and how impactful it would be,” he says.

Looking to kick off his journey in data, Goodly signed up for General Assembly’s online Data Analysis course, where he learned on his own time with a dedicated mentor. “Upon graduating from the program, all I could think was, ‘I need more.’”

Eventually, Goodly enrolled in the 12-week Data Science Immersive at GA Austin, where he not only gained hard skills in today’s most relevant topics — machine learningSparkSQL, and more — but also learned to think like a true data scientist. The interactive environment allowed students to explore concepts together: “Those experiences were the best because they provided me the opportunity to study the thought process of a data scientist while working with real-world problems,” says Goodly. “Some things we tried in class didn’t work…so you try another thing. Technology is changing constantly and the biggest thing you can learn is how to keep up.”

After graduating from the course, Goodly was hired as a support analyst at Home Depot’s Innovation Lab, BlackLocus, a team that leverages data to provide dynamic pricing insights to large retailers. He has seen a threefold pay increase from his previous role, and is constantly learning something new alongside his colleagues who are experts in their fields. Goodly also loves working for a company with the power to do good. He was especially inspired by Home Depot’s relief efforts during Hurricane Harvey. “I tend to adopt the values of the business, so working for a company that keeps the consumers’ needs in mind is very important to me,” he says. “The things that go on in my office have the potential to affect millions of people — that blows my mind.”

Make change. Join Goodly and thousands of other GA alumni in the quest for betterment. From full-time career accelerators, to part-time evening courses, to short-form bootcamps, be empowered to achieve your goals at GA.

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Alumni Story: From WDI to Company Leader

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Student Nathan Maas

Nathan Maas (Web Development ImmersiveSeattle) needed a coding education that could deliver confidence and technical skill in a short period of time. After just 12 weeks in General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive (WDI) course in Seattle, he left with a new company and staff.

“I met GA students who went in with limited technical abilities, graduated with deep skill and confidence, and got the jobs they were looking for,” says Maas, a startup founder who’s leveraging his new technical knowledge to help his business thrive. “I also spoke with the GA crew and teachers and saw a really high caliber of dedicated people working toward a vision of empowering people to do what they loved.”

Pennypost, an app that sends homemade digital postcards to loved ones through their Facebook, Instagram, computer, or phone, started out as Maas’ WDI final project. But, surrounded by creativity and talent, his classmates and teachers soon became his colleagues.

“I recognized how talented my classmates and teachers were and I sought out that same enthusiastic crew who supported the idea of Pennypost from my class,” he says. “I asked them to join me in learning through launching a scalable product into the market. We all had the skill, drive, and confidence from our class at GA and that really propelled us forward.”

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Alumni Story: From Wellness to Web Development

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Monk Wellington

Ten years as a massage therapist gave Monk Wellington the chance to help people from all walks of life. But ultimately the physical demand took a toll on his body. To add to the stress, his home in the Bay Area had increasingly become more expensive to live in. As the lone provider for his teenage daughter, Wellington felt the strain reaching a breaking point and knew he had to make a change: “I needed a more progressive career path in order to be able to support my daughter.”

Wellington knew that the right tech education could unlock the new opportunities he needed. After investigating several coding schools, he ultimately chose General Assembly San Francisco and dove into the full-time Web Development Immersive course. He says that GA’s lauded alumni support network was a deciding factor in his decision. “[GA] seemed more communally oriented in the sense that it had an active global presence,” Wellington says. “That meant I could essentially reach out to anyone in the future across the globe who’s connected to GA for help, and vice versa if needed.”

This social aspect was also an important part of Wellington’s classroom experience. “Programming in general is a largely social act — not just because it involves knowing how to communicate with your machine, but because of the soft skills it takes to navigate the complexity of a business and social environment.” He credits his instructors with giving him vital training in JavaScriptAPIs, and other relevant web design languages and applications that employers actively seek. Classroom training was only part of the learning experience, however, as GA’s Outcomes team supported and prepared him for active job hunting, interviewing, and success in his future roles.

It was this ongoing support from his career coach and Outcomes experts that eventually connected Wellington to his first industry role. As a software engineering consultant at Industrial Logic, a modern agile consultancy, he works with Ford Motors to help build an internal web app for their dealerships in China. There, Wellington says the skills he gained at GA directly impacts not just his day-to-day job performance, but his ability to take joy in his work: “What I love about my current role is being able to access any resource to learn anything at any time, especially if it’s going to help or improve the workflow process of my team. I love that soon I’ll be able to understand, navigate, and build enterprise-level architecture for Fortune 500 companies on my own.”

Wellington’s experience at GA and his new career has had a profound effect on his life — including a fourfold pay increase. He also takes pride in sharing his endeavors, hard work, and successes with his daughter. “Now after all these years, I can not only show my daughter my accomplishments, but she benefits from them as well,” says Wellington. That feeling of having overcome adversity and doing work that he takes pride in continues to fuel him every day: “I’m incredibly grateful that I get to experiment with ideas and solutions to large problems in order to accomplish something.”

How will web development empower you? Our courses are designed so that any beginner can reach programming success, no matter your background and experience. Shape your future with our transformative full-timepart-time, and online courses, or dip your toes in an introductory workshop.

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Alumni Story: Focusing in on a Coding Career

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Molly Kraus

Molly Kraus (Web Development ImmersiveNew York City), then a Seattle hairstylist who sold paintings of pet portraits on Etsy, was unhappy with her career path and craving a change. So she moved to New York and enrolled in GA’s full-time Web Development Immersive course. Her previous coding experience? Updating a few lines of HTML on her MySpace page in high school. “Writing code seemed unattainable to me because the logic seemed so complicated and the code looked so foreign, but GA taught me otherwise,” she says. “Coding has reignited my passion for learning and problem-solving.”

In 12 weeks, Kraus learned essential coding skills — like HTML, JavaScript, and APIs — that web developers use to create functional websites and apps. Since graduating, she’s landed a front-end web developer role at the ticket aggregator and search engine TicketIQ, and continues to leverage her talent at local hackathons and GA events. “I tell everyone how GA changed my life,” she says. “I successfully made the career change I wanted. I am a web developer!”

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Alumni Story: Coding for Good

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Student Melody Serra

Melody Serra (Web Development ImmersiveSan Francisco) began her web development journey when she saw students in a Bay Area private school learning how to code, a vital skill set which wasn’t offered in the public school where she taught previously. Serra made it her mission to teach communities facing barriers to tech education how to code — but first she needed to learn how to do it herself.

In General Assembly’s 12-week, full-time Web Development Immersive (WDI) course in San Francisco, Serra dived deep into the coding languages and problem-solving strategies needed to become a full-stack developer. “Although WDI was one of the most difficult challenges I’ve had to overcome, it was also one of the most rewarding,” she said. 

After completing WDI, Serra volunteered at the San Quentin State Prison’s Last Mile program, teaching coding skills that individuals could use to build a career after they leave prison. Since then, she has returned to GA to teach web development, and is also a full-time tech instructor for Year Up, a work training program for young adults. “I’m so thankful to General Assembly for providing me with the skills I needed to empower others to pursue their dreams,” she said. “After WDI my life has never been the same. General Assembly opened so many doors.”

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Alumni Story: Blending JavaScript With Journalism

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Student Melissa DePuydt

Melissa DePuydt (Web Development ImmersiveWashington, D.C) was tired of being held back by her lack of web development skills. As a writer at a marketing company, she was tasked with digital storytelling — but her team wouldn’t hire a developer to execute the ideas. She decided, “If my company couldn’t hire a web developer to make my life easier, then I would become a developer myself.” She then quit her job, and enrolled in GA’s full-time Web Development Immersive (WDI) in Washington, D.C.

During WDI, DePuydt uncovered a love for JavaScript and discovered where it intersected with her journalism background. Four days after the course ended, she parlayed her new skills and experience into a job offer from the Washington Post. “My behind-the-scenes role is to build features that house the work of the Post’s talented news reporters and graphics editors,” DePuydt says. “They’re creating exactly the kind of content I had always envisioned — and I get to play a role in it.”

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Alumni Story: From Underwear Designer to Web Designer

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Lauren Chilcote

Originally trained as a fashion designer, Lauren Chilcote (Front-End Web DevelopmentNew York City) found herself in a job as surprising as it is essential: designing underwear at an intimate-apparel company. Eventually, though, she found the role monotonous, and wanted more from her career than creating the world’s undies. 

For fun, Chilcote had taught herself the basics of HTML and CSS, but she wanted a more structured learning environment to help make coding her career. “In contrast to garment or print design, web apps feel more like living, breathing pieces of work,” she says of her decision to enroll in General Assembly’s Front-End Web Development (FEWD) course at our New York campus. “There’s immediate gratification in writing code and viewing your work locally, designing in the browser and debugging. There’s a tighter feedback loop that allows you to iterate on your work faster and make improvements.”

With new skills and networking opportunities, she got real-world experience through a freelance gig overhauling a local restaurant’s website, which led to a full-time role as a design technologist at the career advice startup Talent Inc.

“FEWD was the challenge my brain had been craving,” says Lauren, who splits her time between front-end web development and design to help Talent’s clients revamp resumes and get job interviews. “I wanted a change, and GA was the right stepping stone.”

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Alumni Story: Adding Dimension to Visual Stories

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Larry Buchanan

In 2012, Larry Buchanan was working as a freelance print journalist, but limited in the types of stories he could tell. “I wanted to tell visual stories, combining text, image and data, and I figured learning to code would help me do that,” he said. To learn how to create new ways of narration, he turned to our full-time Web Development Immersive program in NYC, where he learned essential skills like HTMLCSSJavaScript, and more.

After graduating, he landed a freelance role creating interactive graphics for The New Yorker. Then, The New York Times came a-knocking: Buchanan now serves as a graphics editor there, joining journalistic know-how with creative coding to tell visual stories. “We combine text, images, data, video, animation, 3-D models, and illustration, to help readers understand the news through maps, charts, diagrams and interactive pieces,” he said. “I barely knew how to code when I started at GA, but now it’s an integral part of my job.”

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Alumni Story: From U.S. Coast Guard to Software Engineer

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Student Joshua Mitchell

For Joshua Mitchell, keeping his head above water was proving tough. After earning a degree in psychology he realized he’d never use and an unexpected medical discharge from the United States Coast Guard, Mitchell was left feeling unmoored and looking for a career direction he could feel good about. “I had no idea what I was going to do,” he recounts. But his powerlessness was not to last: His girlfriend’s father, a front-end developer, pointed him toward some HTML and CSS tutorials. Once he completed them, a pathway was suddenly clear. “I began looking into the career outlook for developers in Boston, and I was amazed to see the future job projections,” says Mitchell. “That’s when I realized how secure something like this could be, and for me, that’s what I wanted — security.”

A lover of building things and DIY projects, coding was a natural fit for Mitchell. “Web development allows me to tap into my creative side, and for a career, I believe that’s of great importance,” he says. After investigating Boston-area coding schools, he had little success getting his questions answered. But it was different with General Assembly Boston: “The first time I called GA, I was connected with someone to talk to immediately. It felt more inviting and welcoming.”

Once Mitchell enrolled and dove into the curriculum, it was clear how intense the course would be. He says that the Web Development Immersive program was “one of the most challenging things” he’s ever done. He credits his instructors with helping him learn to “struggle properly.” “I don’t mean struggle in a negative way,” says Mitchell. “Franklin Roosevelt said, ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.’ GA taught me to embrace the struggle, and that’s what I do each time I take on something new.” He says that his experience has given him more than raw skills in JavaScriptAPIs, and Git — it’s given him an increased confidence in his own abilities: “I proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to, and that will never leave me.”

But graduation day wasn’t the end of Mitchell’s GA journey. The Outcomes team, which provides personalized support to help Immersive students develop skills in networking, professional branding, and more, was instrumental in helping him find a job after the course. “My experience [with Outcomes] was great,” he says. “Finding a job can be even more stressful than the program itself. The team did a great job helping me set up my LinkedIn profile and resume, and taught me how to catch the eyes of potential employers.”

And that’s exactly what happened: Shortly after graduation, Mitchell became a user interface (UI) software engineer at financial tech company Vestmark, making 50% more than his previous salary. He works with a team he loves and feels that GA prepared him to be a lifelong learner. “GA has taught me how to teach myself,” Mitchell says. “That could include learning new tech, or something as simple as finding relevant information about JavaScript methods.” Able to arm himself with new skills to tackle any project, and Mitchell has the mindset to stay competitive in today’s changing tech world.

You can love your work, too. Whether you want to start a new career, advance your current role with coding skills, or be empowered to pursue your passions, there’s an option for you.

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Alumni Story: Shooting for the Stars — and a Data Science Career

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Josephine Ho

Being stuck in the middle wasn’t working for Josephine Ho. After two different careers, earning a master’s degree, and five years spent launching global campaigns and managing teams for billion-dollar projects, she found herself in a frustrating spot: no longer entry-level, but not quite management. Having just missed out on another opportunity, Ho was starting to feel hopeless. But when a friend recommended checking out General Assembly, she saw a path to action and wasted no time. Ho headed to an info session at General Assembly Los Angeles that very evening, where she met her future Data Science Immersive (DSI) instructor.

After researching the program, it was Ho’s love of data that solidified her decision to enroll in DSI. “I’ve always been passionate about data, but the skills used at my jobs always stopped at Excel and Tableau,” says Ho. “When I saw how quickly the data landscape had transformed, I knew I had to learn the newer technologies that are taking over the data landscape.”

Once classes began, Ho was struck by the dedication of her instructors. “Our teachers literally gave us their all — their energy, their support, their time. They genuinely cared about us and believed in us, which gave us confidence. My cohort worked as hard as we could because our teachers did that for us.” That class camaraderie was also a vital part of Ho’s experience. She made invaluable connections with her classmates; they all leaned on each other for support throughout the rigorous program.

Armed with a wealth of data science skills, including machine learning, data modeling, and SQL, and guidance from the Career Services team on how to manage and optimize her job search, Ho set out to find her first data science role. She eventually landed a job as a DevOps engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she’s seen a 33% increase from her last role. Her intensive training in the industry’s most relevant skills has helped Ho become a multifaceted member of her team, allowing for cross-departmental collaboration.

Ho’s experience at General Assembly revitalized both her professional life and her drive to keep learning, something that will elevate her career for years to come. “I love that I am always learning at my new job. My GA teachers helped me get my foot in the door, and now I can pick it up from here and grow my career,” says Ho. “They helped me set a foundation in tech, speak the lingo, and know the tools — I have been building off that.” With a GA education, a new network of fellow data scientists, and a coveted role at NASA, it seems as though the sky is the limit for Josephine Ho.

Make change. Join Ho and thousands of other GA alumni in the quest for betterment. From full-time career accelerators, to part-time evening courses, to short-form bootcamps, be empowered to achieve your goals at GA.Ask a Question About Our Data Science Programs

Ask a Question About Our Data Science Programs