An Experience Like No Other

Marcell Urbina

As the summer of 2017 comes to an end, it has become a bitter-sweet moment. Ten weeks ago I never thought that I would have the perspective I have now acquired through being part of the pilot cohort for <dev/Mission>. I always knew that I loved computers but never did I think I would change my career pathway to dive into the tech industry as I am doing now. When I applied for the <dev/Mission> program, I never imagined to have been accepted nor actually graduate from the program.

For those that don’t know, <dev/Mission> is a non-profit that focuses on training untapped young adults for careers in technology so that wealth and prosperity can be built in our local diverse communities. Wanting to work in the booming tech industry in San Francisco, I decided to research what options were available to help me get a better footing in the industry. I reached out to Leonardo Sosa, the Founder and Executive Director of <dev/Mission>, and with no hesitation, he passionately introduced his program and his goals. Due to this passion, I decided to apply. I had no idea the wealth of knowledge, education and network I would create being a part of this program.

On the first day of the program, I sat in my seat nervous and excited of what was to come. I knew that my programming skills in HTML and CSS were rusty and I did not know how in-depth the program would dive into the subject. What I did know was that I was starting my journey of a minimum 144 hours of intense classes in the fundamentals in IT support as a technician, programming using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript, and finally career skills. Before this intensive program I had never opened a computer in order to take it apart; never had I imagined being able to create my own working website let alone learn how to make apps for both Android and iOS platforms.

My overall goal for myself in this program was to be able to have a fully functional website by the time the program ended to show to potential employers. Little did I know, the amount of time that I would be putting into building my website outside of class. It became frustrating looking through lines of code and trying to understand why a specific feature was not working, but the satisfaction of finally debugging the issue was a feeling like no other. By the time 5 weeks had gone by, I was 80% done with my website while I also learned a lot of other topics by working with software engineers on a regular basis. My knowledge of computers expanded rapidly and I loved everything that I was learning. One of the most important things that I learned in this program was not something that was taught in class, but, rather, it was an idea that I learned by immersing myself into my work. That crucial idea that was the well known cliche, “you get out of it as much as you put into it”. I had heard this cliche over and over again in my life but this time, not only was I hearing this play back in my head, I was experiencing it in real time as well as sharing this idea with my fellow “debugs”.

Although I learned so much while being part of the <dev/Mission> program, the experience I gained and the connections that I made with my fellow “debugs”, mentors, staff and partners was something I could not have had any place else. The most important part of this experience was that this was only the beginning. Although the pilot cohort of the 2017 Summer has officially ended and I am now a <dev/Mission> graduate, there are so many options that I need to explore. Many doors have been opened and I need to cross them in order to continue to expand my knowledge, satisfy my intellectual hunger and pursue the career in the tech industry that I am working so hard for. I came into this program knowing that the journey was not going to be easy but also found myself immersed in a memorable journey like no other. Even though I already have experience in the workforce, I have now also gained skills that will only make me a stronger candidate while I look into job positions as I start my professional journey into the tech industry. I have become an even more well-rounded individual and will continue to be hungry for opportunities and experiences that will allow me to grow educationally, mentally and emotionally.

As this summer comes to a close, I reflect back at the experience I have gained and the events that have transgressed. I want to reach out and thank Leonardo Sosa at <dev/Mission> and Sam Moss, Marcia Contreras and Tony Bear from Mission Housing Development Corporation for allowing me to be part of this program and making this opportunity possible for me as well as my fellow “debugs”. At this time, I urge anyone reading this to pursue your dreams and find programs that will prepare you to obtain those dreams. Know that the journey isn’t easy and nothing will be handed to you, but the journey is only half the fun. To my fellow “debugs”, keep pushing forward, make sure to never lose touch with everyone you have met in the <dev/Mission> pilot cohort and continue to expand your network. Finally for me, I will continue to live by the rule to “always learn something new everyday” because the day one stops learning is the day one loses their joie de vivre.

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