My last post was not an update post. It was more like a “Hey I’m back and I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff behind the scenes” kind of post. This is an actual update post where I share what’s been happening in my “programming life” and beyond since the last time I provided a real “Weekly Update” post.
What’s the 411?
- I’ve been leveling up as far as my programming skills, languages and tools
- I’m still working extra hard to launch my freelance business
- I’m also still looking for full-time work
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been dedicating so much time to learning. Last year I spent a lot of time getting reacquainted with front-end programming. It was overwhelming after a lot of starting and stopping but I stuck with it.
But I think I also spent a lot of time not really believing in myself. I was already very proficient in HTML and CSS. I’m far from a beginner with my usage of various tools like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, but I felt like I needed to learn so much more to take clients or start applying and related jobs. Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely started applying, but after the initial interviews I wrote about last year, I have not had any additional interviews. With each rejection (or rejection by silence given the lack of responses), I really started to wonder if this was the right path. I started to question my abilities, my past work experience, and everything leading to my current state of un/under-employment. I’m still questioning and having to figure out how stay positive in light of everything that has happened.
I know that I have a lot of offer. I know that I’m smart and a quick learner. I know what I am passionate about. I’m just not sure why it’s not coming across in my resume or interviews. That said, I’ve managed to stay on this path. I officially decided to take the plunge and transition from media to development exactly one year ago and I’m still going strong.
I’ve learned so much in the process and proved time and time again to myself that I made for this shit.
- I’ve learned how to configure my Windows 10 machine for web development (which is very difficult in 2017) because so many developers are using Macbooks. But now that I have a nice little setup, I’m not sure I want to even go down the Macbook route. If anything, I’ll get another machine and load Ubuntu (or figure out how to dual boot).
- I’ve customized my command line tools. I have cygwin and git bash on my machine and I use them both through cmder. I also set up the Bash on Windows program, but I’m still figuring out. I’m so much more comfortable using the command line, when a year ago I was wondering “what for?”. Funny how time can change things.
- I’ve learned more about web development tooling which involves gulp, browser-sync, node, npm and so much more. I ended up going down the front-end tooling rabbit hole because I wanted to use the Nunjucks templating engine to create a static site and I would need to use gulp to assist with compilation of the Nunjucks templates into HTML.
- I built three whole websites using this tooling and I am proud of myself for it. The other two sites are: AkudoChigozie.com and 52weeks.Akudo.Codes (which of course had to take a backseat with my work schedule and part-time classes).
That said, my foray into Nunjucks and tooling added an additional layer of confusion to my learning program. I spent so much time doing it, I started to wonder if it was worth it. But I found that great quote from Gina Trapani, who has been developing longer than I have, sharing similar sentiments which just let me know I am not alone.
“getting set up will feel like it takes you as long as building the app will. The sheer number of tools and plugins and packages and dependencies and editor setup and build configurations required to do it “the right way” is enough to stall you before you even get started.”
With the help with Google, videos on Youtube and Lynda.com and various blogs, I was able to figure it out. Like Gina said, once I have everything setup, it definitely feels good and it’s completely worth it.
That leads me to my next point…
Over the last few months I’ve really been able to hone in how I learn best. Last year I spent a lot of time watching videos on various tools or programming languages. Sometimes I would take notes and pause the video and it would take forever to get through the content but I felt like it really helped me.
There is a lot to know and I won’t know everything but I want to know enough to at least be dangerous and productive. There is another great quote from the article I previously referenced including Gina Trapani. In it she says:
I knew that was something I was missing in my learning program. While I’ve joined various groups including Women Who Code DC and Hear Me Code, most of my work and learning is done in isolation. And while everyone says they’re open to questions, the community can feel hostile to someone like me.
So far I can say that it is definitely helping to fill in the gaps in my learning. We meet twice a week so it is not as intensive and as comprehensive as the Web Development Immersive experience but I definitely feel like I’m get something from it and hopefully at the end of the program, the additional certification will get a few more eyeballs to take me & my resume more seriously.
I’ll eventually share my thoughts on the program and my experience in it when things settle down. Right now I’m super busy trying to keep up with the coursework and work and looking for a full-time job and launching my own hustle … so I’m very very busy.
Staying Optimistic About the Future
With everything that I have going on, it has started to feel like there might not be any light at the end of the tunnel. But I have to keep at least hoping there is and putting in the work, which is why I’m still trying to get this small business off the ground.
It is also why I’m trying to count the small victories in my learning progress. Learning something new as an adult is hard. Learning anything new is hard, but when you’re older and more establish, it can definitely cause you to question your entire existence and everything you thought you knew about yourself. So the last year has been a whirlwind for me.
Luckily there are a lot of people going the course and they have shared words of wisdom.
- Zell wrote a post about “learning well” instead of just “learning fast” which really spoke to me. When you’re in dire straits and need a job, of course the focus is on covering as much material as you can and internalizing enough of it that you’ll be able to get the job you want soon. In our rush to get to that end goal, we’re probably overlooking some core skills that we need to develop. He suggests that we focus on learning fundamentals and also actually building things from scratch that many others would suggest you not bother wasting your time on. These projects help you see the things you’re learning in a different light, as I can attest. I often call it learning the hard way because deep down I know that what I’m doing feels like a waste because there is a solution out there, but I know that I have to see it for myself to really truly know it.
- Nicole wrote about using the wrong resources, facing your learning deficiencies, and how losing focus on your original goal can block your ability to push through those difficult moments. As I mentioned before, I realized I like videos and while they are not the only way I can learn, tailoring my learning and finding resources that fit my personality will help me reach my goals faster than just trying anything and everything… especially just because it is free.
- As to losing sight of my original goal, boy have I gotten all the way off the path. I’m still trying to really figure out what I really want because so much has changed, especially over the last 6 months, especially after endless interviews and interactions with companies and recruiters with horrible practices. I’m starting to wonder if going back into an office environment is even something I want. As my goals continue to evolve I have to check in and figure out the best steps to take.
I’m taking everything one day at a time. It took about a month to completely get this new site design loaded and I’m still refining it as we speak. It took all summer last year to create my first iteration of the She’s Gotta Develop It website. But with every project, I’m improving my efficiency and developing faster so hopefully I can open up the second iteration of She’s Gotta Develop It soon and bring in clients.
If you made it this far, I think you for reading. I’ll always appreciate the kind words of support, even when I am still struggling to truly embrace them.