Today’s spotlight is on Alvin Sewram. Prior to enrolling in Ironhack he was a retail store manager with a passion for graphic design, tech, and a hunger for learning new things. After completing Ironhack’s 9 week full-time Web Development Bootcamp at Ironhack Miami, he was able to build a fulfilling career as a Software Engineer.
Alvin learned the top frameworks used by development teams, how to code for long periods of time, and became comfortable with using the Ironhack community for support during challenging times. The knowledge he gained from Ironhack helped Alvin realize what he was able to accomplish in a short amount of time. Check out his story.
Hey Alvin! Tell us about yourself and what life was like before enrolling in Ironhack.
Hey everyone, my name is Alvin and I am an Ironhack Alumni, briefly an Ironhack Assistant Instructor, and now officially a full-fledged Software Engineer, but it was not always this way. In fact I didn’t even know it was a career path I wanted to pursue just 2 years ago, but I am super grateful for this decision and everything that has come along with it so far. Prior to this change in passion, my work life could be divided into two separate parts, sales and art.
Starting with sales, for most of the time I’ve been employed in general, I have been a salesperson. In my first sales job I was employed by a manager that took selling a little too seriously. It was tough, but he drilled into me some core fundamentals that apparently made me attractive to other sales employers as well. I didn’t consider selling a passion, but my experience did give me some value in being able to sell myself, negotiating, and to be a less timid person in general. I eventually took a position at my company at the time that wasn’t sales related, but dealt with the maintenance of operations and auditing of the locations within the district.
The next aspect of my work life prior to Ironhack revolved around art. This started ever since I was a child watching anime and cartoons, trying to capture the exciting moments on paper. This then naturally grew into a fascination for graphic design, where I was given an abundance of new tools to use to bring my artwork to life. In an attempt to turn this passion into a more lucrative one I began freelancing this skill. This led me to take part in a lot of projects I was not accustomed to at the time, which included several UI/UX design work.
It was at this point that I decided that I wanted to take my art to the next level, so I gathered a few friends to assist me in opening my very own clothing brand that would showcase some of my work. The entire process of setting up this company and being able to create something that I could bring to life in the form of a product or shirt was very rewarding to me. I eventually had the opportunity to sell my products at a vendor booth at a convention which was a huge personal milestone.
Within a month after the convention is when the Covid quarantine began, which gave me some time to reflect on my current path. As I was still in the motivational momentum from the event, I wanted to change my main job into something that could accelerate the growth for my company. With the idea of programming implanted by a friend, and my prior experience with UI/UX work making me somewhat familiar with at least the visual layout of what I’d be embarking on, I decided at that point I would try my hand at Web Development. I did not, however, expect to enjoy this path as much as I did.
What was the catalyst for changing your career?
After several months of back to back personal projects and online courses, I began getting a feel for the material. However, even if I could manage my way into a completed project, I felt that there were gaps in my overall understanding of what I was doing as a whole. I needed to hone in on my fundamentals and the foundation of my skills before I propelled myself forward. When explaining this to the same friend that encouraged me to start programming in the first place, he told me about IronHack, a bootcamp that several people he knew went through and heard good things about.
This to me felt like the natural next step I needed to take so I decided to pull the trigger and here we are. Roughly one year of work that transformed me from a retail employee to a Software Engineer.
I thought when I started my programming journey that I would be in it alone. But having a community that I can lean on for support and advice really does make all the difference.
Why did you choose Ironhack over all the other bootcamps and what was your experience like?
My overall decision to join this particular bootcamp came from a friends’ recommendation.
Since I joined with a degree of prior knowledge, a lot of the topics in the beginning felt like a very in depth review and helped me to really understand what I was doing. Also, even when we were going over topics I felt comfortable with, the sheer amount of time of nonstop programming and immersion definitely helped. I feel like one of the very underrated takeaways from this course is how you get accustomed to programming for long periods of time.
As for my mindset, after being introduced to new topics during the bootcamp and having to learn and apply them on the fly, I have gained a lot of confidence in what I’m able to accomplish in a short amount of time.
What are some of your biggest takeaways after completing Ironhack Miami’s Web Development course?
My biggest takeaway probably would be the community I am a part of now. I thought when I started my programming journey that I would be in it alone. But having a community that I can lean on for support and advice really does make all the difference. My advice in this area would be not to be shy when it comes to connecting to other Alumni. Everyone I reached out to was very eager and willing to help a fellow Ironhack member.
Some advice I can share is that you get out of these programs what you put in. If you are in class and you are confused about a topic, you can’t be shy to ask questions or reach out to the instructor outside of class time. All of the instructors I've met are passionate about helping their students, but they can only do so if they know you need help.
Another thing that I felt helped me during my time was to acquire knowledge on the material prior to the bootcamp itself. I’ve seen Ironhack help many people that started with no knowledge in the field, but studying ahead of time definitely makes things more comfortable as the topics get more involved and complex.
My last bit of advice when it comes to Ironhack would be DO NOT SLOW DOWN after graduation. Your work doesn’t end until you find a job. After graduating I was arguably busier than when I was in the program. My days consisted of algorithms in the morning, applying/interviews midday, and personal projects at night. Also, commit every bit of code you do to GitHub. You do not want to lose momentum especially when you’re now starting to speak with individuals in the field and convincing them to give you a shot.
Immersing yourself in programming, backed up with helpful staff, a supportive community AND the career services after graduation were all huge catalysts in helping me break into this field.
What’s it like working in tech as a software engineer and where would you like to take your career next?
Because I inherently enjoy programming, I really enjoy my role developing sites and mobile applications for my current company. My current position consists of managing multiple project deadlines for clients, assisting other employees, and of course, non-stop on the job learning about new frameworks, languages and other different aspects of the tech field. I am actually very impressed with myself for being able to keep up with this intensity in spite of the Imposter Syndrome I felt early on. In a matter of a few months, I can confidently say I am leagues beyond the programmer I was prior to this role and I am grateful for that.
If I had to think ahead to my next role, I think it would be exciting to be a part of a company that is developing its own products and/or services. Also one with more peers I could learn and gain experience from. I personally enjoy being a small fish in a big pond because then it allows me the opportunity to grow as an individual and as a programmer.
What do you love the most about working in tech?
There are so many perks to being in tech that I never even considered before. The biggest perk to me is the ability to work remotely, which I never considered how big of a benefit it was. I have already taken trips to Orlando, Daytona, New York and I’m planning a few out of the country this year. I am able to enjoy all of these experiences without missing a beat at work.
Why would you recommend Ironhack to others?
There are many reasons why I feel Ironhack is a great choice for anyone thinking of becoming a developer. Immersing yourself in programming, backed up with helpful staff, a supportive community AND the career services after graduation were all huge catalysts in helping me break into this field.
If you are someone that wants or needs to change into a career that’s rewarding, in demand, pays well, and enjoys learning more about the software industry, I believe Ironhack has the right tools that will start you on your journey.
A big thanks to Alvin for sharing his story and advice. It’s amazing to see how he used his previous experiences, time, and dedication to build his career in tech. We’re so proud of him, and wish him the best in everything he does!
You can connect with him on Linkedin here, to follow his journey.
If you’d like to follow a similar path as Alvin and are looking to change careers, we encourage you to check out our Full-Stack Web Development Course in addition to our UI/UX Design and Data Analytics courses.
We look forward to seeing you in class!