I started my path to tech by accident when I was 12 and spent all my free time on the Internet. I spent most of my time on Neopets and MySpace which are two websites that allowed anyone to update layouts with some basic coding skills. While on those websites I discovered a community where I found girls my age updating their profiles with background music and cute online graphics. I was so amazed at the fact that my peers were building websites that I was inspired to build my own website too. I learned the basics of HTML and CSS through a kid-friendly website called Lissa Explains It All (http://www.lissaexplains.com/) and continued my journey from there.
Throughout middle and high school I used tools like Wordpress and Photoshop to build websites. Even with this newfound hobby I never took Computer Science (CS) courses in high school because the math requirements intimidated me. When it came time to go to college I decided to major in something related to computer science in order to turn my hobby into a career. In 2010 I became an IT major at Marymount University, a college 2,000 miles away from my hometown of Las Vegas, NV.
After graduating, I was grateful to have a job in tech as a Configuration Management Analyst that I received through a college internship. I was also grateful that this first job taught me how to use Git version control and command line (two skills needed for any tech job). Despite learning these skills through my analyst position, I wanted more and still yearned to turn my childhood hobby of building websites into a full time career.
Though I did some web development through small hackathon projects with my first company, it wasn’t enough. I took it upon myself to use some of my free time outside of work (approximately 3-4 days a week, 1-2 hours each day) to become a web developer on my own.
Fast forward to a year and a half after that bootcamp when a former coworker forwarded my name to a few tech recruiters. I did the work, reached out to each and every recruiter that wanted to meet with me and landed that front-end development position I had been working toward ever since graduation.
Communication is my most important “soft” skill. Specifically, I’ve learned to properly communicate what debugging measures I’ve tried and why they failed when I need help from another developer. I’ve also learned to communicate limitations respectfully, such as needing more time to finish a task or letting someone know when a feature is too much for one ticket.
The following are the resources I utilized and continue to use in my ever-evolving tech journey.
For specific skills:
For keeping up with tech news:
For tech interview prep and algorithm questions prep:
I’ve experienced some microaggressions in the workplace as a minority woman in tech and/or as a new developer. My immediate solution is to shrug it off because I know I worked hard and earned my position. My long-term solution and recommendation for those who are facing difficulties in their career is to find work environments that are more respectful and supportive.
These are some of the questions I ask in interviews when trying to find a supportive work environment:
If you feel comfortable with the interviewers, I also recommend asking the following:
The Women Who Code DC Github repo is a great resource for additional questions to ask interviewers: https://github.com/womenwhocodedc/organization/tree/master/interview-resources
I’ve also had (and still have) issues with technical interviews. It can be daunting to try and find time to make a test project or take time off for an interview. For take home projects, I write down (in pseudocode or English) what logic to write from the requirements. Then I spend the weekend doing projects since I can put my sole focus on the project and not have to worry about my current workload. For algorithm problems I use sample problems from different websites to practice.
I wish someone would encourage teenage Marian to take those computer science courses in high school and encourage college Marian to explore a senior project on web development instead of data science.
While I don’t regret any choices I’ve made when it comes to my career, (I just consider missteps lessons) I do wish someone told me that on the road to success, it’s ok to take some risks and look out for my own interests.
Final pieces of advice:
It’s not exactly a step by step guide, but each project listed in the repo gives a guideline on what programming concepts can be used in order to achieve the tasks needed to finish the project. As always, feedback is appreciated!
Made with ❤️ by Veni Kunche.