Written by Alex Struck, iXperience '14 (Coding), University of Virginia
Now working with Mckinsey & Company
When I applied to iXperience last spring, my goal was to learn the technical skill-set that would allow me to read, write, and understand code. By the time I left Cape Town, I believe that I accomplished this goal; however, I now understand that the true value I derived from the program far exceeds the technical skills I developed.
Above and beyond learning how to code, iXperience taught me a new way of thinking and gave me a competitive edge even when applying for non-tech jobs.
Ultimately, I was able to secure an internship with Accenture Strategy in San Francisco doing exactly what I want to do.
As I went through the interview process for consulting internships this winter, I consistently found that my experience in Cape Town helped me better structure my thoughts and tell interesting stories that set me apart from others. It wasn’t until I began practicing business cases that I understood how much learning to code impacted the way that I think. I found that coding made me break ideas and problems down into basic elements in order to find the best solution, something I have since found useful in various environments. Even though I decided to not pursue a programming or engineering job, I found that the background iXperience gave me helped immensely in learning how to solve business cases for consulting interviews.
Furthermore, iXperience gave me an opportunity to explore exciting places and meet new people. While I found that many of my peers were forced to talk about their experiences working in cubicles during the interview process, I had a repertoire of adventures I could pull from that helped me stand out from the crowd. Whether I talked about climbing Table Mountain, diving with Great Whites, or bungee jumping off of Victoria Falls Bridge, I have no doubt that these stories allowed me to be a memorable applicant amongst large pools of competitive candidates.
The thing I value most coming out of iXperience is the network of awesome and inspiring individuals I was able to meet. I consider both the CEO, Aaron, and head instructor, Salman, personal mentors of mine who have played really crucial roles in my life. Moreover, I became close friends with brilliant students from across the world. I am even living with someone from my iX class this summer in San Francisco!
Finally, the sense of personal fulfilment I gained from taking a simple idea and bringing it to life is truly special. Creating a platform that others can use to interact was an invaluable experience that I constantly draw from when I am deciding what I want to do with my life. Learning how gratifying it is to build something from scratch is a lesson that I will never forget.
Overall, whether you are looking for a professional edge, personal development, or an opportunity to make great friends and have the time of your life, iXperience will surely deliver. The time I spent in Cape Town was one of the most transformational times of my life and I am certain that the lessons I learned and friends I made there will continue having an impact on my life for years to come.