MAXX Potential

''Find a way, now, to do the sorts of things you want to do at the job, later." - Words from Alumn, Jess Izen

Jess Izen

Jess worked as an Apprentice for almost a year and exited MAXX Potential as a distinguished Alum, making it all the way to level 4.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

I used to manage a local bicycle courier company, Quickness RVA. We contracted with a small web agency, KNOWN, to build an online ordering platform. I ended up joining the agency as a project manager. I was drawn in out of curiosity mostly. The problems seemed diverse and challenging, there were always a million ways you could accomplish a goal. It also seemed very stable compared to service industry work.I shifted from project management to coding because that was the most interesting part of projects to me, writing business logic and dealing with servers.

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

I work on AWS's web application firewall (WAF) service. WAF is a layer 7 firewall that sits in front of customer services to inspect request content and apply security rules. My team owns bot control, captcha, account-takeover, and other detection-related features. Dealing with bots is cool because it is something of a cat and mouse game. You can get better and better at detecting and mitigating bot traffic, but bot makers are also always evolving and disguising their networks. And the targets are very diverse - web crawlers/scrapers, account takeover bots, scalpers, etc.In my day-to-day, I do a good mix of cloud architecture/design work, application coding, and DevOps.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

We own and operate our service, with no separate ops team. So building a feature isn't just writing some code, it's figuring out where it lives and how we deploy it and make sure it is working. Not to mention, pinning down what our users need and what would be most impactful for us to build. And because of the scale we're working at, there are a whole new set of challenges around orchestration, monitoring, performance, etc. It really keeps you on your toes and makes you learn a lot of new technologies.

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

Mostly through work. I make sure to take jobs where I will learn new things and continually be challenged. At somewhere like MAXX, you are exposed to something different just about every project. Frontend work, security work, APIs, native apps, robotic process automation - I did all of those in my time at MAXX. You get really good at jumping into something new and figuring out your way around. You don't get quite as much variety if you aren't at an agency, but you can still stay sharp and seek out opportunities to bring in new technologies.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

Find a way, now, to do the sorts of things you want to do at a job, later. Donate work to a local org, build something for a friend, contribute to an OS project, etc. I see people who just study and study, have a portfolio full of practice projects or went to a boot camp. But in interviews, employers want to hear about problems you solved and how you did it. They are trying to figure out how you work. You need to have a way to show that to them.

''Find a problem that needs solving'' - Words from Alumn, Benjamin Alloway

Benjamin Alloway

Benjamin Alloway

Benjamin worked as an Apprentice for just over a year and exited MAXX Potential as a distinguished Alumn, making it all the way to level 4.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

Before MAXX Potential, I was a Licensed Mortgage Loan Originator at a local family-owned Mortgage Brokerage; if you needed to refinance your home loan, or get a loan to buy your home, I was your guy. My decision to finally move into technology, specifically web development/software engineering, came after many years of giving multiple other industries my full attention and energy without really feeling accomplished or rewarded for my time and effort - I was finally burned out. My brother, CTO at goHappy Hub, reached out to me and convinced me that the world of technology, specifically in Richmond, VA, was different. "The water is warm," he said, "Come on in!". I was in.

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

At Fuel Digital, I get to be a part of many different projects, deliver various solutions for differing industries and work in many different tech stacks & code-bases. Presently, I'm working with a client who delivers legal SAAS, and I'm building integrations for their services to other products like QuickBooks. What's cools is that some of their clients need integrations with QuickBooks Online, and others with the QuickBooks Desktop Application. So I get to work on Web Api's, Web Apps, as well as a Service Bus and Desktop Programs!

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

I love that I get to have the opportunity to be a leader, to serve others on my team by helping them learn and grow as Software Engineers and Consultants. I'm excited for future plans within Fuel Digital, that will allow me to build a team and help grow our company.

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

Find a problem that needs solving. It doesn't matter if it's big or small (maybe start with the small ones first). And solve it using whatever technology interests you. Finish what you start, if you keep working at it and finish your App/Website/Api/Service, you will have learned SO much about solving real-world problems. The critical thinking and application of knowledge that happens during building, you NEVER get from just reading and watching tutorials or blogs.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

From a developer's perspective: find an industry, a technology, or a problem to solve that excites you. If you're more people-oriented, look at roles/companies that have good collaboration/culture. It's crazy how two companies in the same industry, in the same city, can have such drastically different models on how their team collaborates.

''The best thing you can do is try different approaches''- Words from Alumn, Diana Liubimova

Diana Liubimova

Diana Liubimova

Diana worked as an Apprentice for about one year..

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

I was a tech recruiter back in Russia. Because I was surrounded by brilliant technically minded people, I wanted to work with software and solve challenges and issues with applications, but I was convinced that a woman without a tech degree couldn’t get into the industry. When I moved to the U.S. I started learning to code. I heard there were people who got into the industry no matter who they were, what their background was, or whether they had degrees or not. If they could do it so could I.

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

I support and update legal recovery applications.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

I know that I can solve challenging issues with our software and team. The business and my manager are grateful for that and they value my work.

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

I'm always taking an online course or on some learning path. I also have a list of courses I want to take. I use Codecademy and Udemy courses.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

If you get frustrated because you can't solve a problem or don't understand a concept or run into a piece of technology that seems too complex, don't worry, everybody faces that from time to time. The best thing you can do is try different approaches and take baby steps, and eventually, you’ll solve it! Just don't stop believing in yourself!

''Learn as much as you can from others''- Words from Alumn, Anthony Werner'

Anthony Werner

Anthony Werner

Anthony worked as an Apprentice for three and a half years.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

I was a Network Operator (0651) in the USMC prior to joining MAXX Potential. There I discovered my passion for IT and technology. This passion has continued my desire to further develop my skills as an IT Professional and to advance my career in technology.

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

I am currently in the process of taking the Thycotic Privilege Manager Certification. Once I have passed the certificate, I will be shadowing a team of Thycotic engineers in installing Privilege Manager for a client, then managing the solution once implemented. Some of my responsibilities include taking requests from my project manager for my previous project and implementing them in the client's installation of Thycotic Secret Server. As well as shadowing Thycotic Certified Consultants on their projects to further progress my requirements to becoming a Thycotic Certified Consultant. I am currently in the process of taking the Thycotic Privilege Manager Certification. Once I have passed the certificate, I will be shadowing a team of Thycotic engineers in installing Privilege Manager for a client, then managing the solution once implemented. Some of my responsibilities include taking requests from my project manager for my previous project and implementing them in the client's installation of Thycotic Secret Server. As well as shadowing Thycotic Certified Consultants on their projects to further progress my requirements to becoming a Thycotic Certified Consultant.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

I would say the most rewarding thing about my current role is learning more about the PAM solution products that I am working with from experienced co-workers. The more I learn, the more I am better equipped to help customers and team members in implementing and maintaining cyber security programs.

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

I keep up my skills by spending time outside of work, working on my personal projects. This allows me to practice things that I have learned. My favorite way of learning new technologies is taking details notes then getting hands-on experience (either in a lab or in a dev environment). Finally, by creating documentation so someone else would be able to follow the same steps to accomplish the same task. This re-enforces what I have learned and provides documentation to later review or share.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

The best piece of advice I can provide is to learn as much as you can from others and choose your mentors from those people.