Jake Hong: leading development of our website, working with new frameworks, and growth as employee #1 of a startup

Junseong (Jake) Hong is our first employee and full-stack engineer. He has an incredible background: he studied cognitive science and artificial intelligence at Berkeley while pursuing additional computer science projects on his own. Viralspace became his first job out of college, where he’s gotten to work directly with the CTO, grow in new areas such as back-end development and working with new frameworks, and lead the development of our website. In his own words, he gets to work with brilliant people and grow from the challenge of building a website on his own.

What was your background before Viralspace?
Before Viralspace, I was a undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. I initially started as a chemical engineering student but at the end of my 3rd year, I decided that I wanted to pursue computer science and changed my path to cognitive science and artificial intelligence. Although it took me an extra year to finish college, I was very glad that I had made that decision and got to study computer science. Before graduating, I got interested in building websites and so upon graduating, I dived deeper into it and studied further on my own.

Why did you join Viralspace?
After graduating from UC Berkeley, I was looking to gain a breadth of development experience, so I sought a role in full-stack development. Luckily, that’s exactly what Viralspace was looking for. I quickly learned that this wasn’t a typical full-stack role: I would be leading the development of our entire website in a fast-paced startup environment!

Then, the next thing that really got me was the fact that I will be working directly under CTO, Apoorva. This meant I would get to manage and learn about how the whole product is made from start to end and get to learn directly from an expert so much more knowledge and experience than I did. This seemed like a huge learning opportunity as an engineer.

What do you work on at Viralspace? What have been some of the most exciting and challenging moments?
As a full stack engineer, I am currently in charge of building the whole front-end side of our product, which clients get to see on their computer or phone. The most challenging part so far has to be building the whole product using a new framework that only I, out of the whole team, knew about. This was when I just turned full time after 2 months of internship. This took a long time and asked for perseverance. For days, I went back to working after dinner. I read through multiple documentations, posted questions on stack overflow, or asked people for tips. After many days of hard work, the website was running from new framework and that became one of the exciting moments at Viralspace.

What have you enjoyed about building Viralspace?

  • Definitely working with such brilliant people. They are all experts in their own field and it’s very fascinating to see how they work as a team. There are a lot to learn from them everyday, from how they manage to break through roadblocks to how they work so hard and diligently.

Turning a design into a working website can be a long and tough process which requires a lot of endurance and persistence. However, seeing the website growing with more functionalities and more beautiful design makes me feel like I am raising a child. This is definitely a unique experience that I am getting at Viralspace.

What are you passionate about?

  • I have always been passionate about building things. When I was about 4 years old, I already had a drawer full of legos. In elementary school, I got into making plastic kit models such as tanks, submarines, gundams, etc. If my little brother hadn’t broken them, I would probably have a shelf about my height full of those. And now, I am passionate about building websites.
Jake and the team at the Viralspace Thanksgiving potluck

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