Justin Curry

The Architect of His Future: Justin Curry Leverages Hack the Hood tools for his Success

Our commitment at Hack the Hood is to support our young Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and AAPI learners to navigate and discover pathways into technology careers. Whether it be connecting students to continued learning or degree pathways , supporting them to apply for an internship with a tech partner company, or using their skills in tech for good in their communities, we consider it a success when we empower our Alumni to be agents of change in the world.

We caught up with Justin Curry, a Hack the Hood 2018 Alumni, a mentor to our learners, and a Full Stack Engineer at Everlane, about his journey from Hack the Hood into tech, how he’s using the tools he learned from Hack the Hood, and how he’s changing the face of tech.

What was your journey like from the time you left Hack the Hood to when you landed at Everlane?
Justin Curry: After completing the bootcamp at Hack the Hood, I landed an internship at Cruise Automation, which I learned about through Hack the Hood. My time there was great and it was also a humbling experience because I realized that I had more to learn and was motivated to take the next steps in my technical skills. With the encouragement of Hack the Hood, I enrolled in a 3-month coding bootcamp at General Assembly. I learned so many new skills, which helped propel me into teaching software engineering. I taught for 9 months at Hackingtons, prior to the pandemic, and came across an opportunity at Everlane. I interviewed, got the job and have been there ever since.

Why did you first decide to join a Hack the Hood program and how did we help you on your journey?
J.C.: I learned about Hack the Hood from a family member who thought that getting into the tech culture would be a great opportunity for me. I could never have imagined how much of an impact an organization would have on me. One thing that stood out to me was visiting tech companies with my cohort. I remember visiting Braintree and having an aha moment “Wow! I could work with these people everyday. These people, this environment, it’s highly collaborative… I’d have no choice but to grow everyday being surrounded by so many amazing people.” The sense of community that Hack the Hood had a huge impact on me. For the first time in a while, I was able to be my authentic self. I was able to grow into the most confident version of myself. HtH equipped me with the tools I needed to fuel my success, like public speaking and a laptop. I used my laptop to pass my technical interview at Everlane.

Are you still mentoring Austin (Hack the Hood Alumni) and or anyone else? Are you still in touch with Austin?
Yes, I am still mentoring Austin. We’ve been meeting weekly, every Friday for a little over a year now. He’s recently been offered a job, which is exciting. I’m very proud of him and how far he’s come. I will be getting another mentee through Hack the Hood’s mentorship program this year, I’m really excited about it.

How long have you been at Everlane? What are you currently doing in your position?
I’ve been at Everlane for over a year, almost two. I’m a Full Stack Software Engineer, and I work on the front end of Everlane’s website. I also do some back end work, like processing user information and payments.

Describe a typical day at work.
I do a stand up (a team meeting or check-in) with our team at 10am and check in; then pick up a support ticket if I’m not already working on a project. Our team is very close knit. We stay in touch and check-in throughout the day via Slack. Our Slack bot posts random questions during the day, like “What is your favorite book”. It really helps to build community and encourages us to take breaks.

Has your position changed?
My position hasn’t changed, but my roles and responsibilities can differ from week to week or based on projects that I’m assigned. I’m super thankful for my managers who give me the flexibility to experience and try different things. I want to be an engineering manager or an engineering -lead in the future, so they give me different tasks to get the experience I need to lead others and progress in my career.

Are you applying and using skills you learned at HTH to your job?
Hack the Hood empowered me to be my authentic self, to be confident in myself, and that it is ok to ask for help because everybody needs help. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you are going to fail, fail forward. I take those teachings with me every day.

What’s been something surprising you’ve learned being in the tech work space?
The culture of switching companies after 1 to 3 years was a bit of a shock to me. My mom went to work at Kaiser straight out of college and she was there until she retired, and a lot of my family did the same.

Another thing that surprised me was learning that some of the smartest people, the best engineers, need help and they aren’t afraid to ask for it. I’ve had senior engineers tell me that I’ve taught them something new. Those moments are really enlightening because people that I think highly of are willing to listen and learn from someone just starting out in their career. It truly is a collaborative environment.

Are you a part of any ERGs or attended any conferences/ meet-ups that were inspiring to you?
I’m part of Ever-Black, at Everlane, for Black employees. It’s a super inspirational and supportive community. I’ve attended a few virtual conferences, and I had a chance to hear Jem Young, Engineering Manager at Netflix, speak. I love hearing him talk.

What are your favorite apps or new technologies you’re using?
Recently, we’ve been doing redesigns in Next.js. It’s really cool because we get to do a lot of learning and have some fun. I was still learning React and Javascript when I started, and then layered on Next.js. It’s been rewarding to see my progression from when I first started to where I am now.

Do you have any words of advice for new students and alumni at Hack the Hood? Any words of wisdom you want to share?

Take advantage of your community. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people at Hack the Hood who are willing to help, me included! This journey is not an easy one, and no one got to where they are today without the help of others. We believe in you!
Thank you (Hack the Hood) for continuing to be a great resource for me and for all the young people you serve.

Hack the Hood takes pride in being able to provide our learners with the resources to further their learning and begin their career pathway into tech. Through our programs, mentorship and career development opportunities, our learners are able to see themselves in tech fully..

Are you interested in becoming a mentor and supporting the next generation of technologists to reach their goals? Fill out this form here. Sign up and be part of Hack the Hood community, and be first to know about upcoming opportunities, events and program sessions. Learn more about our programming here.

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