ALCMY™ Intern Diaries – A newbie’s first week at ALCMY™

Who are you?

Hey, my name is Menilek and I’m a competitive grappler, aspiring vegan, bookworm and now a newbie Software Alchemist at ALCMY. Allow me to share my journey.

After finishing a year in industry and returning to complete my degree in Computing Science at Aston University, I had a lot of questions running through my mind. While I did learn a lot and make good connections during my year of work there was still something missing. I’d envision the ideal role submerging me in a state of flow, enthralled in expertise, always contributing and growing but how would I go about finding something like this?

I decided to go out in search of this mythical role. At the time I had been developing a system based around the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of my individual project for University. It would monitor water levels and visualise the data using a single board computer and a stack consisting of Python, Flask, PostgreSQL and D3. After scouting events on Eventbrite and Meetup, I ventured out with a few questions and my project as a talking point.

From my experiences in web development, I’d have to admit that I do have a sweet tooth for the JavaScript front-end frameworks. Messing around with Knockout.js and running through tutorials on Codecademy peaked my interest, however, I set my sights on React and Node and lo and behold I met Amon. After explaining my project to Amon he began detailing the stack he uses at ALCMY and I was hooked. This was exactly what I was looking for! We swapped contact details and fast forward a few weeks and I’m now an Alchemist.

What have you been up to at ALCMY?

Since joining I’ve been working alongside Amon, the Chief Technical Alchemist (in charge of turning code into gold) on the technological front. Coming in, I thought that the level of understanding I’d acquired at University would put me in good stead but Amon had really shown me the depths of technologies and advancements taking place in the industry. Getting up to speed with ES6 was eye-opening and working my way into React was even more exciting.

As the newbie making mistakes is expected but Amon has really challenged and encouraged me and I’m all the better for it. I started off with a simple Tic-Tac-Toe game in React. Grasping the concepts within the JavaScript library alone was a test but explaining my understanding of concepts such as dumb and smart components followed by Amon filling in any gaps really helped me consolidate my knowledge. At one point I was explaining the project using diagrams, who would’ve thought!

I have split my time between two offices depending on what needs to be done. The Natwest Accelerator incubator is a space full of teams of driven entrepreneurs, walls you’re encouraged to draw on and last but not least, Pitch Club! The first rule of Pitch Club is that everybody pitches. Yikes, right? I was lucky to be let off the hook the first time but I can’t lie, it’s got me sweating. Hearing pitches ranging from art and e-commerce to sports coaching captivated me but what was really mind-blowing was the level of feedback the entrepreneurs received from the business advisors. From the word count to inflexions and accents influencing the sound of words, I was wowed!

The Studio is home to the spirit of the ALCMY collective and it’s my personal favourite. There’s something about being here that gets me going, I believe the French call it that ‘je ne sais quoi’.

Closing thoughts

After having spent one week here at ALCMY I can say that I have definitely levelled up! Being thrown into the deep end on day one has exposed me to a multitude of activities and processes that take place in a Customer Experience and Technology agency. I knew little about business development but expanding my skills outside of coding has been invaluable. Learning the basics of React and only days later presenting my understanding of the JavaScript library wasn’t something I’d think I was capable of a week ago but here I am! I’m excited to see where this journey will take me and I hope you enjoy the ride.