2018 was a wild year of transformation and I was determined to ride that fire this year. As some of you may know, I come from a non-traditional background with no prior exposure to computer science. I was always more into the arts and history and definitely wasn't mathematically inclined so I never considered a career in STEM to be an option. Nevertheless, I stumbled upon coding while browsing the internet seeking a better life. Learning on my own instead of going back to school or enrolling in a boot camp, I learned to filter through the vast majority of learning resources in order to develop my own curriculum. I didn't really know what I was doing. Like I said I didn't have any experience with coding whatsoever.
My journey wasn't perfect. I relearned concepts like DOM manipulation over and over until it somewhat made sense before I moved on to the next topic. I studied hard and ultimately accepted my first role as a Web Developer on July 18, 2018. I relocated to Seattle, WA from Orlando, FL to start a new adventure.
When I first learned how to code in 2017/2018, my goal was to simply land a job. 2019 is different. I want to dive deeper into content creation (blogging about the projects I build, writing and recording tutorials, etc). Why?
An exceptional developer possesses the ability to articulate their decision making process fluidly. They are able to communicate and break down technical concepts in a way that others can understand. I want to practice and strive to become a great communicator of code.
I'm also fighting my social anxiety and natural introversion by becoming more active on social media and blogging. An introverted writer at heart, I've always been very guarded about my thoughts and social media has helped me gain confidence in myself. Due to how open and welcoming the tech community can be on Twitter, I've been able to come out of my cocoon and truly express myself.
As far as my learning goes, I have chosen to focus deeper on accessibility and progressive web apps. The reason I've chosen those two subjects is because I am deeply dedicated to helping make the web more accessible. I wholeheartedly believe that no user should be left behind due to poor network connection or possessing visual impairments or disabilities. We should never code for ourselves and just assume that the conditions of our end users are an afterthought, to say the opposite is to admit that you could care less about user experience. I want to take the time out to thank Marcy Sutton, an accomplished Accessibility Expert and woman in Tech, for introducing me to web accessibility and her encouragement and support!
I'm also gaining a side interest in ThreeJS and WebVR in general so let's see how that goes.
Taking efforts to address my mental health and practice more self care. But you wouldn't know because I don't tweet about it as much as I should.
When you're an ambitious woman with the desire to take advantage of opportunities, sometimes you forget to take care of yourself. I suffered burnout repeatedly and had to take breaks from coding, which did nothing but feed my imposter syndrome. I felt like I had a lot to prove because of where I came from and was determined to take advantage of every opportunity to not go back. I often questioned why I exist in this industry but I kept it inside because I was raised to believe that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. I was never really shown empathy as a child if I displayed emotion so to this day I battle with being able to express myself at times. However I'm starting to recognize that there is strength in vulnerability and am beginning to show more compassion towards myself.
...continue to prioritize efforts towards making software development accessible for everyone.
I want to see more people-both experienced and not-become unafraid to admit their gaps in knowledge and to grow together.
I also hope to see more individuals and companies drop the mentality that we need to work 80+ hour weeks including weekends in order to prove ourselves worthy to be in this industry. This is very discouraging towards people such as working parents or those with mental/physical illnesses who simply shouldn't have to sacrifice their livelihood in order to feel accepted in the tech world.
More ways that we can make the tech community more inclusive is through being transparent about our journeys, be a bit unafraid to share our failures, and share our resources. I would also like to see more of us check our own biases and be more understanding of the plight of others. There are those of us who can't afford a laptop, Udemy course or we may possess a disability that may hinder our learning. Compassion and transparency will lead to a better and more inclusive community.
I have great things to look forward to that I'm proud of. I've been chosen to give technical talks at four conferences on building accessible user interfaces with React and React Native. I also want to continue livestreaming my attempts at learning different things related to code on Twitch.
For 2019 and beyond, let's all put our self care first, build dope things, share knowledge and give back.
Follow me on Twitter && let's grow together ♡