Alumni Spotlight: Fong Fan

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At Bloc, we’ve taken note of how impressive our student body is. Just when we think our alumni have done it all, we hear from several more about how they’ve built incredible products, successfully pursued entrepreneurship, or transitioned into newer, better careers. We had the opportunity to interview one of our many outstanding graduates, Fong Fan, who recently joined the Adorable team as a developer.

Tell me about yourself, Fong! Who are you, and how did you end up enrolling in Bloc? What were you doing before you enrolled in Bloc?

  • I was working at Epic as a technical services engineer, solving technical software problems for hospital organizations. The problems ranged from operational to technical and I gained a lot of exposure to hospital policies and workflows. The philosophy of customer success drove a lot of the corporate culture and was heavily incorporated in my day to day decisions. Overall, I gained a wide breadth of experience in technical problem solving, project management, and customer service through my tenure at Epic.

Tell me more about your new job as a Developer after Bloc! Where do you work and what’s your role?

  • Adorable is a software development consulting company that delivers web services backed solutions. We work directly with clients to ensure their success, whether that means developing a product for them from scratch or providing them with some of our extremely talented engineers to work on building out new features or addressing their pain points.
  • My role so far has been mainly focused on learning the technologies that we specialize in and getting up to speed on them. I have only been there for a month so far but I’ve been focused on honing my front end skills by learning React.js as well as prototyping a project to determine its fit in the market. I have also been helping out with YWeb  (a web development career training program for underrepresented groups in the technology field) as well as the local Ruby on Rails Meetup group – both of which are sponsored by Adorable IO.

Are you excited for this opportunity?

  • I have been really grateful for how welcoming the team has been as well as the emphasis on mentorship. I’ve definitely learned a lot in my first few weeks and I’ve been exposed to a lot of stuff I otherwise never would have seen (at least for a while). I definitely have a large mountain to climb but I’m glad I’ll be doing so with the team at Adorable.

How was the job-hunt process?

  • Grueling. Most of my online applications were probably filtered out or flat out rejected. I had more success with referrals and companies that were familiar with bootcamp students/had an onboarding program. In the end though, I found Adorable through the local meetup where I was able to establish a relationship with Jim (founder of Adorable).  To be honest, this aligned with all the various articles I’ve read regarding job hunting – it’s not necessarily what you know, but who.

What are your next steps?

  • I’m going to spend a lot of time at work and outside of work continuing my education and building my skills. At work, I focus on pairing, working on projects, and learning from the wide breadth of knowledge of my co-workers. Outside of work, I listen to podcasts (Ruby Rogues, JavaScript Jabber, TEDTalks), practice on Upcase, read blogs, and talk shop with some developer friends. But don’t worry – I still play volleyball, watch TV, and grab drinks with friends to keep my sanity. 😉

What’s something you know now that you wish you would’ve known when you started Bloc?

  • Learning is hard. In school, we learn to pass exams and then forget it all (mostly). In real life, we have to learn and continue to build on pre-existing knowledge and experience to continue pushing the boundaries of what we can accomplish. This is a different mindset that I learned to adopt as I progressed through Bloc. I realized that a good curriculum and a great mentor can only take you so far. If there’s a concept or a technology that you want to learn to use, you really need to have the grit and passion to learn it yourself.

What was the hardest part of your learning journey?

  • (basically what I had above – that learning to create software is not going to be simple and straightforward)

What advice would you give to other Bloc students?

  • Don’t expect anything to come easy. It’s a tough career with lots of challenges and roadblocks. Despite having a formal education in engineering and having taken a few computer sciences courses, completing the curriculum at Bloc required me to spend a lot of time studying. I spent several hours a day (balancing a full time job in a challenging role) learning and struggling through the exercises.

A lot of students, while they go through Bloc, often feel defeated when they’re at the toughest part of the learning curve. If you could give any words of encouragement, what would it be?

  • Stick with it. Grit is often the defining characteristic of successful people. This means debugging, researching, posting on Stack Overflow, reaching out to the slack community, or talking with your mentor – whatever you need to do to get the job done.
  • I liked watching/listening to motivational videos on YouTube when I felt unmotivated. Nothing like listening to CT Fletcher or Arnold Schwarzenegger to get pumped up about writing some code! One of my role models is Elon Musk so I get motivated listening to his talks about his inspirations and motivations.

Where do you see yourself in one year?

  • In one year, I better be looking back at the code I’m writing now and thinking “This is some damn awful code. Who wrote this? Oh… me”.      

At Bloc, we’re driven to help individuals change their lives by transitioning into careers they’re passionate about. We offer mentor-led online programs comparable to in-person bootcamps. To check out the programs we offer, go here. If you’d like to read more about students’ experiences attending Bloc, this is the best place to find Bloc reviews.  #hacktheplanet

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