We know what you’re doing. You’re staring at that big ole’ pile of dirty laundry, letting it accumulate, wishing that someone would just pick it up and do it for you. Well, Washio founder Juan Dulanto knows how you feel, and he started a company to do just that.
Cindy Yen moved from Taipei to Hong Kong in pursuit of a finance career; but was soon diverted by the bright lights of business and design. When she decided to act upon her newfound interest, Cindy signed up for GA’s Front-End Web Development class. Now she’s using her skills to develop her first startup, a quantified-self app launching in late 2014.
Meet Denis Tsoi, a graduate of General Assembly’s 10-week Front-End Web Development course in Hong Kong. In a previous life, Denis worked as a dealer for a precious metals brokerage. He realized that “working in finance is not what it’s cracked up to be,” and since learning to code at GA, he’s embarked on a new career as a web developer at the creative agency Imagination HK.
What inspired you to learn to code?
It all started a year ago when I first joined Dim Sum Labs, a hacker space in Hong Kong. At the time, I didn’t know anything about programming or how to make a website.
One of Dim Sum Labs’ co-founders, William Liang, mentioned an upcoming Startup Weekend event that he’d be mentoring at. I had just finished reading The Lean Startup and The Four Hour Work Week, and thought I’d give it a try. At the event, I noticed a surplus of “business” types, but not many designers or coders. I was frustrated when I realized that I wasn’t one either.
A few months passed. I was applying for jobs, and emailed someone at a startup that I was interested in. While I was bummed that they weren’t hiring, I thought it’d be best to keep in touch since he was so nice over email. I later found out he was teaching GA’s Front-End Web Development course, which I had heard about through somewhere else. It was a sign!
1. What led you to learn user experience (UX) design?
I previously worked as a product manager at Christie’s auction house, responsible for the design and development of christies.com and their mobile apps. My product management role at Christie’s was very UX-focused, but I wanted to have a broader understanding of UX principles, best practices and deliverables.
2. Tell us more about your most recent UX design project.
I recently launched a DIY baking company called Chloe Doughy that delivers ready-to-bake monthly cookie dough projects. The first version of the Chloe Doughy website was a simple Rails app. I took GA’s 12-week UX Design course to take my idea and prototype to the next level, starting with creating personas and ending with designing userflows and wireframes. I’ve since launched the latest version of Chloe Doughy using my work from the course.
Meet Carolina Garcia, co-founder of Modabound, an online marketplace for college students to buy and sell fashion items. Along with co-founder Alexa Varsavsky, Carolina enrolled in GA’s Front-End Web Development course out of college, a year after they first launched Modabound. Carolina and Alexa are currently participating in the Techstars London accelerator program, with the goal of expanding to every college campus in America (and beyond!) — Emily Lu, General Assembly
Name: Carolina Garcia (@modabound)
Occupation: Co-founder, Modabound
1. What inspired you to learn front-end web development? How has it helped you run your business?
We knew early on that starting a business as non-technical co-founders would be a challenge — we wanted to guide our developers better, and anticipated questions from investors down the road.
As co-founders with front-end skills, we are now able to project manage much more effectively. While we’re also able to contribute with code, the main benefit is being able to communicate our vision more clearly to our developers, having a better grasp of how long projects will take, and ultimately working more closely as a team.
2. What surprised you most about diving into web development?
I was surprised to learn how welcoming the developer community is. Developers love sharing. They talk a lot. They have boards. People are so open to helping each other out and solving problems together. We gained a great framework for understanding from GA’s Front-End Web Development Course, and from there I’ve been amazed by how much you can continue to learn by using the web as a resource.
Meet Nicky Hughes, graduate of General Assembly’s 12-week Web Development Immersive (WDI) program who recently landed a job as a Rails developer at a startup. It is now a family affair — Nicky’s husband was so inspired, that he just enrolled in WDI too. – Mercedes Bent, General Assembly
Eight months ago, I was an architect in Sydney, Australia. After a three-month crash course in web development from General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive (WDI) program in New York City, I’m now proud to call myself a Rails developer, with a full-time job back in my hometown at a tech startup called Tapestry.
Coding and web development weren’t new to me. In high school, I studied coding in Visual Basic, but those skills got tucked away in a corner of my memory as I concentrated my energies on a career in architecture.
Originally viewing it solely as a resource that could come in handy at my current job, I started teaching myself Ruby. However, as I got into it, I quickly began to recall the love for coding I developed in high school, and made the decision to leave architecture in pursuit of a career in web development. In order to do this, I’d need a more comprehensive and structured curriculum than simply learning on my own, so I applied for WDI, traveled across the globe to New York City, and set out to write a blog about the experience called, Nicky on Rails.
Meet Brooks Swinnerton, graduate (and now Teaching Assistant) of General Assembly’s 10-week Back-End Web Development course. We sat down with Brooks to find out what inspired him to learn to code, what he’s done with his new skills, and why he returned to GA to pay it forward. — Emily Lu, General Assembly
Name: Brooks Swinnerton (@bswinnerton)
Occupation: Systems Administrator, New York University; Teaching Assistant, General Assembly
1. What inspired you to learn back-end web development?
Whenever I ran into a problem or inefficiency, I found myself thinking, “There should be an easier way to do X.” When I couldn’t find a solution, my next thought would be, “I wish I could just create it”. That’s why I decided to learn Ruby on Rails — I wanted the knowledge and power to simplify my life.
Now with these skills, I no longer have to “wish” for a solution; I can create it. I have the freedom to drive the product to exactly where I want it to go, right down to the buttons.
2. What’s something exciting you’ve done with your new Ruby on Rails skills?
Back in March I participated in a five-day event called The Startup Bus. The goal was to build a startup on a bus and launch it 1,800 miles later at SXSW. I applied completely on a whim, and a week later found myself boarding a bus in Union Square with 30 strangers. I took this time to work on my startup idea, Readin.gs. We worked on the bus for 13 hours a day, slept very little and fueled up at Walmarts along the way. It was an insane experience, but made some incredible like-minded friends by the end of the trip.
Meet Kate Zasada, graduate (and now Teaching Assistant) of General Assembly’s 12-week User Experience Design course. She’s come a long way in the nine months since she first started learning at GA, and has quite a bit to show for it, including a new job at Shapeways, the world’s leading 3D printing marketplace and community. — Mollie McCormick, General Assembly
Name: Kate Zasada (@kzasada)
Occupation: Product Manager, Shapeways
1. Did you have a specific moment when you decided that you wanted to do user experience (UX) design?
I was feeling a little lost in my career and took a bunch of classes across a wide array of disciplines at General Assembly (GA). One Sunday morning, I decided to take a half-day UX design workshop. I remember it being 8 am, raining, and just really crappy outside — but I was on the edge of my seat with excitement. I thought, “What we’re discussing is jiving 100% with how I feel, these people understand me! This is what I should be doing with my life.”
2. How did learning UX design help you in your career?
Even though my title isn’t “UX designer,” I am doing more UX design as part of my job as Product Manager (PM) at Shapeways. After all, many decisions PMs make directly influence a product’s UX. Like the UX and Interaction Designers I work with, I also ask myself “What do our users want?”, then work with my team to create solutions to address their needs.