The Resident program at The Alliance Labs was designed to create opportunities for Chicago’s dedicated and talented youth who have overcome adversity and aspire to greatness and leadership through careers in technology. These future workers are given real-world, employable skills that are practiced, challenged and perfected through the work The Alliance Labs does for its valued clients. One of the program’s current residents is Birhanu Mihretie.

Birhanu is from Ethiopia, and moved to the United States in 2013. After spending time as a lawyer at Americare Tax services, he discovered his passion for technology.

What led you to The Alliance Labs Resident program?

I originally began my journey when I met an alum from i.c. stars who told me about the opportunity. I was looking for a deeper knowledge of how web development, computer science and business works, so I applied and was accepted. 

When I finished the i.c. stars program, The Alliance Labs came in and presented us with something called “Zombie Chase.” It was a series of assignments that covered website development and coding pages. If you didn’t complete the assignment before the deadline, that meant you were caught by the zombies and didn’t pass. Five of us finished, which meant we got to be interviewed by The Alliance Labs. I was so happy to be accepted!

What have you been involved in so far?

In addition to my front-end development internship at The Alliance Labs, the other residents and I are involved in the regular Code Review class. Andrew gives us regular assignments about coding, quality assurance, WordPress and many other related topics. Every week, we present the progress we’ve made on the latest assignment and receive peer-to-peer and teacher reviews to help everyone learn. Sometimes we get portions of other projects that we have to figure out to simulate the work of an actual web developer.

What are you hoping to learn from The Alliance Labs?

I am hoping to get as much experience as possible from the other students, professionals and teachers here. We’ve been given a lot of practical and real-world experience, in addition to the real client projects. I want to use all of the tools they give us so that I may become a better front-end web developer.

What Was Your Favorite Project?

My favorite project was assigned to me during a Code Review. The task was to build a full page for The Alliance Labs website. I particularly enjoyed the project because I was able to be creative and build a page by myself simply through my own experience and knowledge.

What are your plans after The Alliance Labs?

I want to take this practical experience and find a good job as a front-end web developer. Hopefully, that job will allow me to grow and learn more about my career. In the future, I want to start more community service programs to inspire others. For example, I would like to offer and lead free coding nights to teach young people and minorities – who never got the chance to learn more about web development or computer engineering.

How has the Alliance Labs helped you build a career?

The Alliance Labs has really showed me what it’s like to be a working professional. I’ve learned how to present my work and actively engage with others working in the field. Not only that, they also offer resume building workshops to help people learn how to construct one, how to give a good first impression and how to handle an interview. All of these things are giving me a chance by giving me actual working experience to help increase my chances of getting outside jobs and interviews.