We are elated to have Alissa Renz join the Rithm instruction team! You can find her teaching and supporting students throughout the course as they take the leap into full-stack web development. Here we learn a little bit more about Alissa, her role on the team and her advice to all aspiring web developers (starting with, "you got this!")
What is your role at Rithm School?
I’m the newest Lead Instructor! Since I’m a recent addition, I’m currently getting up to speed on the curriculum and lectures, as well as supporting students during their time in the lab. I’m looking forward to expanding my responsibilities to include lecturing and figuring out even more ways to set our students up for success.
What were you doing before you came to work here?
Before coming to Rithm School, I was working remotely as a full-stack engineer for Pattern89 (formerly Quantifi), helping to build a system from the ground up that paired machine learning with social media advertising. Prior to that (and up to its implosion), I worked for the infamous Geofeedia: the controversial intelligence platform that associated social media posts with geographic locations and recorded every. single. one.
Before I made my pivot to tech, I was the Enrollment Supervisor at a leading English language school in New York City, taught English as a Second Language to students ranging from 6 to 60 in both Spain and Australia, and even slung espresso as a barista while attending the University of Michigan (GO BLUE!!).
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
The lightbulb moments: when someone really gets something for the very first time. We all learn differently and at varying paces, so I enjoy helping students think about topics and challenges in unique ways that will help solidify their knowledge according to how they learn best.
What advice would you give to an aspiring web developer?
You got this. It doesn’t matter the age, or what your past experiences may be up to this point: if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, and you’re excited about the work, you have what it takes.
That said, take it one day at a time. Given how fast this industry moves, it’s quite easy to feel as though you’re falling behind. But if you’re better today than you were yesterday — even on the days it may only be slightly — then you’re well on your way.
Finally, learn to fail gracefully, if not enthusiastically. In web development, it happens often. And it should! Failure means you’re stretching your knowledge and abilities: if you’re not failing, you’re not challenging yourself nearly enough. The sooner you can embrace failure and realize the positive implication of its presence, the stronger you will become as a developer (and teammate!).
What’s one interesting fact or story about you that current students would be surprised to learn?
I’m a diehard gamer at heart. At age 16, I built my own gaming rig in a day with the help of a book and funding from a terrified father that fully expected the components spread out on the dining room table to remain that way. The Realm, Diablo, Ultima Online and EverQuest all elicit memories of late night raids and the early days of MMORPGs. I’m ridiculously nostalgic.
These days, when I do carve out time to game, you’ll find me on the PS4, playing titles from series like Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, Final Fantasy and The Elder Scrolls (though I have a soft spot for indie games like Firewatch and Life is Strange). That and impatiently waiting for more play-worthy VR titles to emerge.