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And Despite It All, Shayna Coded

As with most of my posts, I'll probably ramble quite a bit, get lost in my own train of thought, and eventually tie it together in an unsatisfactory way.

But this, my lovely DEV friends, is the story of how I started coding, and got to this point of my life. Or, as I like to call it - how Shayna, became Sharkie.

It Begins

Let's start with high school. I went to school in Ontario, and to get your high school certificate you had to have a few different science credits - 2 mandatory, and a third.

Look. I was horrible at science. Physics? Chemistry? What is this wizard language you speak?? So... yeah, I would take any loophole to not do those classes.

Lo and behold, there were options! You either took a normal science, construction tech (trust me, you don't want me NEAR a saw) or... web design?

At this point, your gal was a Media Arts aficionado, starred in pretty much every theatre performance we put on. EVERYBODY thought I'd go to post-secondary for theatre. Everyone.

But with my Media Arts background? Web design is a natural next step.

And it just... clicked.

I was the only girl in the class. Everyone kinda just... ignored me. Other than the teacher. He was THE REAL DEAL, man. He inspired me, he pushed me to be the best I could be, and I owe a lot of my career choices to how kickass he was. Thank you, for introducing me to this career and for never counting me our.

Sentimentality aside, god damn I loved coding. We learned the very basics of HTML and CSS, and he even taught me some JS. I was hooked.

So when it came to choose colleges, I had a choice to make. Did I do theatre? Or go with tech?

Well, theatre is a very rickety thing to try get into. You never really have a solid career. Tech... well, that's more reliable.

So as I was scrolling through the college courses available in my college of choice, and I came across Interactive Media Design? You're damn right I was sold!

This was a crash course of web development, UI/UX Design, Graphic Design, Marketing, Photography, Videography, Animation... literally so much of what I loved in one program. I couldn't not.


Ahh, college. Sometimes I miss it, sometimes I'm glad to be out.

As I kind of touched on, it was a massive program when we learned A LOT. This has been both beneficial and hurtful - it's hard to find a job as an Shark of all trades, because people want specialists. And... I'm not.

But I loved it, generally. I loved everything I was learning, I was getting some pretty great marks... it was a great experience, honestly.

And I learned SO MUCH.

By the end, you had two paths you could take - Web Dev, or Video. I spent so long trying to make this decision, and to this day I'm not sure if I made the right one.

Obviously, I chose Web Dev. And I met more profs who taught me so much, and I'll forever be grateful to them. But once my video prof found out I wasn't going video... man, he actually came and wondered why I wasn't, and said he wished I was, he was disappointed, blah blah blah. And I felt bad, but not bad enough to attempt to switch - my films really aren't that good. I can use a video camera but never, ever ask me to be a director.

And then I graduated, and... here I am. But before I get to the looking back part, let's go through some silly college stories:

The Term from HELL

Picture this: fresh and new college students arrive, ready to face the world... and what do they get? Projects upon projects, so much so that if you had a job, you had to quit it to keep up with schoolwork, and even then you were usually up till 4am working on projects. And then back up at 8am to finish up the project due at your 1pm class.

It was torture. I barely slept, lived on coffee and pain, and spent 90% of my time in the computer lab specifically for our program. But don't worry, I wasn't alone - there was always someone pulling an all-nighter in the lab.

It was so bad, we collectively, as an entire program, went to our program head and told them something needed to change.

And it did! The last 3 terms were lighter, and we only had to pull 2 4am nights instead of 5!

Even thinking back to that term gives me shivers.

Camera Woes

Obviously, when we're doing photography and videography, you needed your own DSLR. And you took it with you EVERYWHERE. You never know when a great opportunity will show up.

(To be honest, I still have it with me a lot of the time. It's become habit.)

But I was sitting in class one day, near the beginning of the term, and my camera was just sitting on the table not far away.

And a fellow classmate.

Dropped it.


Oh my god. I saw my life flash before my eyes. I had fo buy a new lens, I didn't have the money...

And so for about a month I did every photography project with my long lens. Every. Single. One. We had this camera test with our prof which I almost failed because I couldn't do 90% of the things with my long lens. But he let me slide because I was nice or something.

And then I bought a new lens and it's the same one I have now. Heck yeah.

The Terrifying Coding Exercise

So we had these little coding exercises every few classes where we went in, were handed a final project, and were told to recreate it. No code provided, just write it yourself.

Usually, these were easy and I was out in ~ an hour. But the one time... everyone was struggling. We were there 4 hours at minimum, and that's about when I finally solved it and left.

And that's when the texts started piling in. All about the one question we were all stuck on.

Is it a + selector, or a ~ selector?

I answered them all, and within another hour everyone was done and left.

Let's never do that again, please.

Reflections, Comments, and a Conclusion

This isn't your normal path into coding. It's odd, like me. It's what shaped me into the human I am today, and I wouldn't change it.

I sometimes wonder what life would've been like if I'd chosen theatre. I probably wouldn't make it far now, because I irritated a phrenic nerve in my throat and randomly hiccup. And nobody wants an actress who can't control when they hiccup.

But at the same time, I miss the stage. I yearn for it, and possibly I'll get back there eventually. Who knows what life will bring?

And for now? I'll continue trying to carve out my spot in the tech world. I know it's there, just waiting for me to find it. And I will. It just make take me a bit to get there.

Top comments (4)

justsharkie profile image

"Divine developer devotion" I like the sound of that.

He created a big fuss over how it "wasn't his fault" and he "couldn't afford it" (like i could?). It was easier to let it drop than argue for a year.

missamarakay profile image
Amara Graham

It’s totally there. And when you find it, what a fulfilling place that will be!

justsharkie profile image

Exactly! Just gotta keep working towards it. ❀