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Tony Salazar
Tony Salazar

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I said, "I am a designer, not a developer."

This is a story about the Hack Challenge that changed not only my life but my perspective on coding.

While working as a Production Designer at a Hack Challenge event was held. It was a 3-week event that aimed to improve processes and give employees a chance to present innovated projects. I quickly signed up eager to improve a tedious process our Production Designers experienced daily.

Our designers spend a lot of time with art files importing and exporting them from Illustrator and Photoshop. Traversing this bridge was time-consuming and was challenging to teach to new employees. I felt creating an Adobe Script that automated these steps would be the best way to improve this process.

The problem was...I did not know how to write JavaScript.

To me, coding was terrifying. It’s all numbers and alien looking symbols. I thought to myself, “I am a designer, not a developer.”

However, in order to help my team, I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and into the realm of a developer. So, I began to learn and teach myself the basics of JavaScript during my lunches and at home. I only had 3 weeks to deliver my submission, so it was necessary for me to learn exactly what I needed to create the solution I wanted.

I began testing my code on art files at work. Tweaking it and asking co-workers what I can do to improve it. Sure enough my script was working. The script was able to take the original 20 step process and cut it down to 4. The Illustrator and Photoshop Scripts ran with the click of a button and were easy to teach new employees how to use them.

One week later I learned that I won the Hack Challenge event for my department. It was calculated that my script would save the company $50,000 dollars annually. It felt great to develop a tool that helped my team be more efficient and productive.

Not only did I learn about the power of JavaScript, but I learned that coding is not scary!

This ignited a fire in me.

If I could learn JavaScript what other coding languages could I learn? I then turned my focus to learning Java on my own. After learning the Java fundamentals, I then gravitated to Android development. And that is where I discovered my true passion. Mobile development.

I realized the mobile space is a place where I can utilize my design and development skills to deliver apps that bring positive value to people’s lives.

Later on, I went on to publish an app in the Google PlayStore, received a Google Android Associates Certification and will be graduating from Udacity’s Android Nanodegree program this month. I have now set my focus on bringing my talents, skills, and knowledge to the mobile development industry.

That Hack Challenge changed my life forever. I highly recommend anyone try one. Even if you don’t know how to code. Team up and bring your ideas to the forefront. Win or lose, you will learn something new. And that alone, I believe, is worth it.


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