Nicole Chung, Freelance Programmer

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Freelance Front-end Developer

“In IT there is always something new to learn. The people are really creative!”

Nicole was the lead developer for an amazing simulation called Inside the Haiti Earthquake. This is a 3D-like “choose your own adventure” virtual experience. You can be a survivor, journalist or aid worker.  “I did all the flash development.” Nicole took the writing and wrote the code that makes the simulation work. In other words she wrote the code, that when you click on an icon (for example make a choice to be a survivor) it takes you on that journey. If you choose to be a journalist you go a different direction!

CareerMash

When she was in high school her parents wanted her to go into business administration and/or computer programming. “I went into film school at Ryerson. I learned pretty quickly that in order to finish my assignments, I would have to do a bit of everything myself - shoot, record sound, and edit. That DIY mentality really paid off when it came to becoming a web developer.”

A Day in the Life

Nicole’s favourite thing is to build games: SumFish and CircleSubtract. She also likes to make videos. But for work she does a mix of web projects. “Anything to do with code or images interests me.”

Being a freelance editor means going to a different office for every new contract job. But she likes the variety. She’s worked at some very cool and innovative places. “Some places I’ve worked at have things like fair trade coffee,organic milk and a really social atmosphere!” When Nicole was working on one game, the boardroom was full of actual character drawings everywhere. “It was amazing to see the drawings all around me and then be part of them coming to life.”

Why this Job Rocks

“Being a front end developer is super interesting and addictive! It’s not a normal office job.” Nicole enjoys learning new skills in each project. Some of her favourite jobs are animation.  “It’s great when I work with animation and then make it interactive.”

Nicole will get a design with some amazing graphics. She writes code so it moves and interacts with the user. She feels the user connects with the content more when they are part of it—that it draws them in. “It’s rewarding to create that interaction.”

Roadmap

  • Nicole graduated with a BA in image arts from Ryerson.
  • She received a certificate in new media design at Centennial College.
  • Nicole started making short films. She was also a production assistant and daily grip on various film projects.
  • Nicole took a job at Bank of Montreal in their financial corporate intranet department for four years.
  • She has been a freelance front-end developer since 2009.

Speed Bumps

Nicole used to work at a bank in the corporate web department. She even made corporate videos. “The pay was good, but I decided to leave and do more creative work, in particular to make casual games for children.”

Tips for Success

  • Be a weekend warrior. Have a weekend project where you build an app or a game or just your own website! Showcase something you care about. And you can start small. It’s better than working on a project that doesn't pay just to build up your portfolio.
  • Be a reader. “For making games, you have to know a bit of trigonometry, vector math and Newtonian physics. But it's not as much as you think.” Nicole thinks it's more important to know how to type and how to read. “It's really hard to write code if you have problems spelling.”
  • Be proactive. Nicole thinks if you are interested in her kind of work it’s good to start learning programming skills in high school. Try to build a simple game (like Pong, Asteroids, Hangman or Tic Tac Toe) or do something with music visualization (like those animations that appear on your computer when you play music).