This interview was conducted by Erica Freedman, Content Specialist at SwitchUp.

Yowon Yoon currently works for Raizlabs as part of their web development team. In college he studied Biology and Music, but felt not knowing how to code would hinder his professional future. Determined not to be left behind, Yowon kickstarted his coding education at Firehose Project. Now he can build applications using Python, Javascript, and React-Native. Learn more about his journey with Firehose Project below:

Your educational background is in Biology. What ignited the switch to Software Development?

I am a double major in both Biology and Music and have half of a masters in Music Composition. I left the academic music world as it was too difficult for me to wrap my head around, and software development is a field where I can apply my affinity for creating things, but without nearly as much headache. Additionally, I felt that not knowing how to “code” at the present time was akin to being illiterate before widespread education, and I didn’t want to be left behind.

Do you feel Software Development and Biology are related? If so, how?

Not really, I think software development for the majority of people working in the field is either about having a very high aptitude and propensity to learn new things or having a high dedication to the field and passion for it. Obviously, these two personas would likely be successfully applied to any field, but software development has a lower barrier to entry.

How did you decide to attend Firehose Project? What made it the right program for you?

I was teaching myself how to code without too much structure, and a friend of mine who was doing the same suggested we enroll in Firehose Project together.

You currently work as a Software Developer for Raizlabs. What does this title mean and what does a normal day at work look like for you?

I’m a member of the web team at Raizlabs. My normal day at work consists of writing some code, reviewing others code, or learning about new technologies to use in future projects and give internal tech talks. For example, recently I’ve been building some basic AR applications in React-Native using Three.js and ARKit in javascript or building a custom NLP engine using spaCy in Python. I specialize in front-end development in javascript but also hop on projects that utilize a variety of backends including Node or Rails.

Have you faced any challenges trying to become a Software Developer?

Not particularly, admittedly any big career change is going to present challenges, but I focused heavily on CS foundational knowledge and programming in preparation for technical interviews on my own. I would say the biggest challenges facing “bootcamp” grads today that were just starting to form when I was making the career switch have to do with the stigma on folks who have meticulous Github’s and personal sites, but can’t learn new things unless given to them in tutorial form. I believe that my personal prep work helped to differentiate my candidacy, and Ken (the co-founder of Firehose Project) was informative and guided me in understanding this stigma when I was applying for jobs.

Has Firehose Project helped you to get a job in your field? If so, how?

Absolutely. Web development is a fast-moving and a nebula of conflicting opinions, and having some structure and accountability (e.g. paying tuition) is beneficial to navigate the path to a career in software development.

Where do you see your career heading in the next 5-10 years?

I’m excitable and motivated about building products the right way and building the right teams to do it. I want to be a part of creating environments where this can happen.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice before pursuing this track, what would it be?

Focus on the fundamentals and be more selective about the opportunities that you will get. There are a lot of software jobs out there, and making sure you find yourself at a place where you can continue to learn quickly and have good mentorship is paramount.

Curious about what other students have experienced at The Firehose Project? Check out what alumni have said about us on SwitchUp.


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