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What It’s Really Like to Change Your Career Online

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Going to work used to mean physically traveling to a workplace. Whether by foot, public transit, or car — a job was a specific location to which you commuted. But with the advent of the gig economy and advances in technology, telecommuting has become more and more prevalent. In fact, according to a 2018 study, approximately 70% of workers worldwide spend at least one day a week working from home.

So, why should education be any different? Learning from the comfort of home saves you the time and money you would’ve spent commuting, allows you to spend more time with loved ones, and encourages a much more comfortable, casual work environment.

That’s why we’re now offering all of our career-changing Immersives online. We’ve transformed over 11K+ careers — so whether you’re interested in becoming a software engineer, data scientist, or UX designer, you can trust our proven curriculum, elite instructors, and dedicated career coaches to set you up for professional success.

We sat down with three experts on GA’s Immersive Remote programs to better understand how they work — and more importantly — how they compare to the on-campus experience.

Breaking Barriers

GA Education Product Manager Lee Almegard explained the reasoning behind the move: “At GA, the ability to pay tuition, commute to class, or coordinate childcare shouldn’t be a barrier to launching a new career, she said. “Our new 100% remote Immersive programs are designed to ease these barriers.”

Obviously, saving yourself a trip to campus is appealing on many levels, but some interested students expressed concern that they wouldn’t receive enough personalized attention studying online as opposed to IRL. Instructor Matt Huntington reassures them, saying “Our lectures are highly interactive, and there is ample time to ask questions — not only of the teacher but also of other students.” 

Staying Focused

It’s not always easy to stay focused in a traditional classroom, but when your fellow students have been replaced by a curious toddler or Netflix is only a click away, distraction is a real concern. 

GA graduate Alex Merced shared these worries when he began his Software Engineering Immersive Remote program, but they quickly disappeared. “The clever use of Slack and Zoom really made the class engaging. It leverages the best features of both platforms, such as polls, private channels, and breakout rooms,” he said. “This kept the class kinetic, social, and engaging, versus traditional online training that usually consists of fairly non-interactive lectures over PowerPoint.”

If you’re concerned about staying focused, you can use these simple, impactful tips to stay motivated and on track to meet your goals:

  • Plan ahead. Conquer homework by blocking off time on your calendar each week during the hours in which you focus best.
  • Limit distractions. Find a quiet place to study, put your device on “Do Not Disturb” mode, or find a productivity app like Freedom to block time-consuming sites when studying or working independently.
  • Listen to music. You might find that music helps you concentrate on homework. Some of our favorite Spotify playlists to listen to are Deep Focus, Cinematic Chillout, and Dreamy Vibes.
  • Take breaks. Go for a short walk at lunch and change up the scenery, or grab a latte to power through an assignment.
  • Ask for help. We’re here for you! Our instructional team is available for guidance, feedback, technical assistance, and more during frequent one-on-one check-ins and office hours.

Most importantly, listen to yourself. Everyone learns differently, so take stock of what works best for you. Find the strategies that fit your learning style, and you’ll be well on your way to new skills and new heights. 

Getting Connected and Getting Hired

Another key component of learning is the camaraderie that comes from meeting and studying with like-minded students. How does that translate to a virtual classroom?

GA Career Coach Ruby Sycamore-Smith explains that both students and faculty can have meaningful, productive relationships without ever meeting in person. We’re a lot more intentional online,” she says. “You’re not able to just bump into each other in the corridor as you would on campus, but that means you’re able to be a lot more purposeful with your time when you do connect — way beyond a simple smile and a wave. Merced agrees. “Breakout sessions allowed me to assist and be assisted by my classmates, with whom I’ve forged valuable relationships. Now I have friends all over the world.” And as Huntington pointed out, “There is no back of the classroom when you’re online.” When you learn remotely, every seat is right next to all of your peers.

When we piloted the Software Engineering Remote bootcamp, we took extra care to make sure that our virtual classrooms felt exactly like the on-campus ones, with group labs and even special projects to ensure students are constantly working with each other,” Huntington explained. “A lot of our students form after-hours homework groups, and nighttime TAs create study hall video conferences so everyone can see and talk to each other.” 

And with students from all over the country, you’re going to connect with people you never would’ve met within the confines of a classroom. These peers could even be the very contacts who help you get you hired.

By recruiting industry professionals who are also gifted instructors to lead courses, students are taught how to translate their knowledge into in-demand skill sets that employers need. Sycamore-Smith explains that the involvement of GA’s career coaches doesn’t end after graduation; they’re invested in their students’ long-term success.

She says, “Career preparation sessions are very discussion-based and collaborative, as all of our students have varied backgrounds. Some are recent college graduates, others may have had successful careers and experienced a number of job hunts previously. Everyone has unique ideas and insights to share, so we use these sessions to really connect and learn from one another.” 

Merced is enthusiastic about his GA experience and quickly landed a great job as a developer. “Finding work was probably the area I was most insecure about going into the class,” he confessed. “But the prep sessions really made the execution and expectations of a job search much clearer and I was able to land firmly on my feet.

Conclusion? Make Yourself at Home

After years of teaching in front of a brick-and-mortar classroom, Huntington was a little wary about his move to digital instructor, but his misgivings quickly gave way. 

I was surprised to feel just as close to my virtual students as I did to my on-campus students, he said. “Closing down our virtual classrooms and saying goodbye on the last day of class is so much more heart-wrenching online than it ever was for me when I taught on campus.” 

Huntington’s advice to a student wondering if online learning is right for them: “Go for it! It’s just like in person, but there’s no commute and it’s socially acceptable to wear pajamas!”

Learn About Our Immersive Remote Programs

Alumni Story: Brian Flynn Goes from Developing GA Courses to Web Developer

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Brian Flynn

Brian Flynn’s story at General Assembly starts from within GA itself. “I joined GA’s Instructional Design team to make our first online education courses,” says Flynn. “In my two years there, I produced courses in web designdigital marketingdata analysisuser experience design, and JavaScript.” Working with subject matter experts day in and day out to develop curricula, Flynn dove deep into a huge range of topics. It was his “love of the material” that led him to take a string of night courses and weekend workshops at GA: Front-End Web DevelopmentProduct Management, Intro to Photoshop, and much more.

“The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn,” Flynn says of his numerous GA courses. “After learning Ruby on Rails … I was confident that I wanted dive deeper into web development.” That confidence and his faith in the Web Development Immersive curriculum gave Flynn the courage he needed to make the tough decision to leave his role with GA and jump into the program with both feet.

In the WDI, Flynn tore into complex programming languages like JavaScript and Node.js, and built a robust array of other web dev skills that would help him transform his career. The hands-on nature of the program really helped him start thinking like a true web developer. “I loved the projects. Getting to put the skills I learned into practice was always my favorite part of class,” Flynn says. They also brought him closer with his classmates, creating peer, professional, and mentoring relationships that are so vital to post-graduation success. “I really appreciate the friendships I made with my classmates and teachers, many of whom I’m still good friends with today.”

The GA Alumni community turned out to be Flynn’s path to his next adventure and first web development role. Though not a GA alum himself, Joshua Brueckner of Air Tailor (an online service that helps users effortlessly have clothes tailored and repaired) found Flynn through a GA alumni list and brought him on as technical co-founder. In the summer of 2017, they were part of the 1% of companies accepted into the Techstars accelerator program, a program for emerging startups that gives founding teams access to funds, facilities, and guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs.

In the end, Flynn’s experience at GA — both as an employee and a student — improved his ability to adapt to changing situations: “When building a new tech startup, founders have to wear a lot of hats. The classes I helped build and the classes I’ve taken have given me a broad set of knowledge and a network of smart, creative people to look to for guidance.” His new day to day might pull him in a lot of different directions, but Flynn says he’s happier than ever: “My favorite part about my job is developing new digital features for our customers and retail clients, but honestly, I love it all. The responsibility I get to have working on a big idea with a small team pushes and inspires me to keep learning and growing, and has challenged me to be a better person in a lot of ways.” Between the training, support, and post-graduation connections, General Assembly Flynn’s comprehensive solution for education and tech-world success.

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.

Ask a Question About Our Coding Programs

ALUMNI PROFILE: ANGELA MAUGEY, RECIPE FOR TECH SUCCESS

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Angela Maugey

Angela Maugey was burnt out on the culinary world. After seven years as a chef and a stint teaching cooking skills to hospital patients, she realized that her future was not in the kitchen. Having a coder for a partner, she was exposed to the wonders of Raspberry Pi — a small computer used to learn basic programming through practical projects — before taking some free online courses. “I was spending increasing amounts of my spare time in front of the computer, enjoying what I was doing,” Maugey says.

With a coding career in her sights, Maugey began researching programs near home. On a friend’s recommendation (who happened to be a General Assembly alum), Maugey looked into GA and saw it offered not just great instruction, but a supportive community. After chatting with the team at GA London and attending an open evening, Maugey discovered she was eligible for a scholarship that could be used for the full-time Web Development Immersive (WDI) program. That sealed the deal: “I was pretty anxious about making such a big change to my life … but the scholarship was way too big an opportunity to turn down, so I went for it!”

As Maugey puts it, “the course was intense.” Designed as a full career accelerator, WDI taught her both vital coding skills — including JavaScriptAPIs, and Git — and how to problem-solve for bigger projects. The collaborative learning environment also provided the support needed to succeed and grow her network of coding professionals. “I made some great friends and excellent contacts to take with me through my coding career,” says Maugey. “We formed our own homework club and coded out problems together. We really helped each other.”

After the rigors of the Intensive came the challenges of the job search process. Maugey says that she was nervous, but knew she wasn’t alone in her job search, backed by support and guidance from the GA Outcomes team. “I was pretty anxious about writing CVs, interviews, and the like,” she says. “But there was an endless amount of resources and always someone from Outcomes available to give advice.” Eventually, Maugey found her first coding role at an on-site Meet and Hire event hosted by the Outcomes team. As a junior software engineer at OnCare, a company aimed at solving the elderly care crisis through tech, Maugey builds software that helps in-home care workers do their jobs more easily.

In addition to a 36% pay increase from her previous role, she also enjoys more satisfaction from her work: “I love the feeling I get from breaking down a problem and finding a solution, and the sense of pride I have seeing my code being used live in the 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.

Ask a Question About Our Coding Programs

Alumni Story: A Force to be Reckoned With

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Student Andrea Kennedy

Like millions of us, Andrea Kennedy (Web Development ImmersiveLondon) grew up a Star Wars fan. Flash forward to 2015, when instead of watching The Force Awakens in the theatre, she was rubbing elbows with its cast at the European premiere. A graduate of General Assembly’s second-ever Web Development Immersive course in London, Kennedy works as a front-end developer and technical project manager for the London-based creative studio Powster. When the firm was tasked with creating the official U.K. home page for the film, she played a major role in building out the styling, animation, and functionality of its pages.

Kennedy turned to coding while working as a historical research consultant. “I was frustrated by the lack of permanent positions in the heritage and museums industry,” she says. “I wanted to skill up without going back for a second master’s degree, so I started looking at tech programmes.”

That’s when she found GA — and the Force. “I definitely wouldn’t be at this company, working on the Star Wars site, without having retrained through General Assembly,” she says. “It’s made a huge impact on my life. Learning to code opened so many doors to an industry I was previously completely uninvolved with.”

Kennedy has also leveraged her skills to teach budding developers at GA’s London campus. “I’ve had the experience of going from total newb to competent developer, so there is an element of being able to relate to what is often a pretty shocking coding-learning curve,” she says.

Ask a Question About Our Coding Programs