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The Alliance Labs Resident Spotlight: Iryna Korchynska

The Resident program at The Alliance Labs was designed to create opportunities for Chicago’s dedicated and talented young adults who have overcome extraordinary adversity and aspire to greatness and leadership through careers in technology. These future leaders 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 Iryna Korchynska.

Iryna moved to the United States from Ukraine where she secured a job as an office manager and customer service representative, which lead to the discovery of her passion for technology.

What led you to The Alliance Labs Resident program?

Before I heard about The Alliance Labs Resident program, I learned about i.c. stars from one of my best friends. After completing the program at i.c. stars, The Alliance Labs came to me with an opportunity to participate in something they called a “Zombie Chase,” a series of assignments that covered website development and coding pages. If you fail to complete any of the assignments before the deadline, you were caught by the zombie and did not move on to the next round of assignments. I passed all of the assignments, earned an interview and subsequently a spot as a Resident in The Alliance Labs program.

What have you been involved in so far?

I am currently involved in a lot, as there is so much to learn. I have a full-time job outside of The Alliance Labs in quality assurance. The developer creates the code to build an application, and then I write codes to test it to optimize the application. I enjoy this job because it is related to the back-end language of website code. I hope to combine my experience at this job with The Alliance Labs to one day be a full-stack developer. Within The Alliance Labs, the other residents and I are involved in regular Code Review classes, which meet every Thursday. Andrew Hicks will give us regular assignments about coding, quality assurance, WordPress and many other related topics. Every week we present our work to receive peer-to-peer and teacher reviews. Andrew also gives us the opportunity to do an extra assignment each week, which I always want to do so I can learn the most from every opportunity that I am given.

What are you hoping to learn from The Alliance Labs?

I am looking to receive any and all experience from The Alliance Labs. The projects that they assign to us are full of such valuable information and learning experiences. By showing up to every Code Review and doing extra assignments, I am hoping to learn as much as I can about front-end and back-end web development.

What Was Your Favorite Project?

Honestly, I can’t choose a single favorite project. I really like them all. You can always learn something new and each project is a reminder of that. All of the projects are challenging which is great for learning. While projects can be frustrating when you’re trying to figure out the solution, but it is unbelievably satisfying when you finally find the solution.

What are your plans after The Alliance Labs?

Hopefully in the near future I will be able to find a job as a full-stack web developer. I am trying to learn as much as possible from my QA job and my time at The Alliance Labs. Through combining my experience, I’d like to start my own business one day. I graduated from i.c. stars one year ago and had no idea about IT, and now I feel like I’m pretty knowledgeable on the subject. However, there is still so much for me to learn.

How has the Alliance Labs helped you build a career?

The Alliance Labs has been a huge resource for me. Everyone there is super friendly, upbeat and fun. Every time you come to class it’s always interesting and very informative. I can’t learn enough from these classes. They are always helpful and can answer all of my questions. It’s always a very welcoming and accepting environment where everyone wants to help each other.

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Search Engines Want You to Do This…Why Aren’t You?!

The content on your website is written for people to read, right? Wrong. Pretty words are all well and good, but they don’t do anything for your business if your target audience can’t find your website in the first place. To make sure search engines are understanding all of the good stuff you’ve put on your well-designed site, you have to learn how to speak their language.

Write for the Spiders

While you’re writing for the proper target audience, the first “person” to read your content is actually a machine. All of your hard work is useless if it is not found by visitors, and if your content is not written so that machines can interpret its meaning, then your brands, products and services may be invisible to the web. What do we mean by machines? Search engines employ spiders (yup, spiders) to crawl the web to increase the accuracy of delivered search results. If that wasn’t enough, don’t forget that as technology continues to evolve, so does the way consumers search for things. Increasingly, they are using alternative devices and platforms for search, including mobile and virtual assistants, like Siri.

SEO is So Not Cool

HTML, the widely used language to code websites, doesn’t describe the meaning of the content that is written on websites — no matter how many keywords you stuff in there. Regular SEO practices need an update, and one way to do that is through the addition of semantic, structured data code. This code is an elegant addition to — not a replacement for — HTML. It’s code that describes the meaning of things on a site rather than how they should look. For example, when you post a photo of your favorite pet, Google doesn’t see a picture of a six-month old, cuddly, tabby kitten named “killer.” Using structured data markup, you have to explicitly tell the search engine bot those specific details about a certain JPEG file so they can find that picture of a cute, cuddly kitten that people will waste hours sending to their friends.

You Need a New Dictionary

For years, search engines have been asking web developers to describe their content for machines. Back in 2011, Google, Yahoo and Bing took a big step by developing Schema.org. The collaborative community behind schema.org creates, maintains and promotes schemas for structured data on the internet. By infusing search engine-friendly language into the backend coding of a website, this semantic, structured data will drastically change the way a site appears in search.

To take advantage of this largely untapped opportunity, The Alliance Labs has partnered with Smart Data SEO, a company skilled in advanced technologies to improve web presence. As technology advances and the web continues to expand, developers need to publish content that can be interpreted by machines or risk becoming lost. Providing what search engines have explicitly asked for can make big changes to the visibility of your website.

Eric Franzon, Principal of Smart Data SEO, spoke in greater detail about this and other topics during a free training event we held on Jan. 17. If you’d like more information about your SEO or potential for improvement with Semantic markup, call us at 312-278-3550.