Four years ago, I wrote my first line of code ever. This code wasn’t very amazing. I was simply trying to get “Hello World” to appear on the screen. It was a simple task, but this was the beginning of a brand new chapter of my life and the start of my developer story.
When I enrolled in Skillcrush web designer career blueprint in 2015, I had a feeling that learning how to code would change my life. Although I didn’t know what would lie ahead, I knew that surprises and experiences were coming and would shape my story. My instincts were spot on. There have been many surprises that have happened along the road to being the developer I can be. These surprises have come in a variety of different experiences such as speaking at virtual summits, starting an online community on Elpha, and the opportunity to share posts I’ve written on different platforms within the tech community.
I’ve grown a lot since I wrote “Hello World” back in 2015. These days I’m working on improving and refining my frontend skills while learning how to build the backend of web applications. In addition to learning brand new skills, I wanted to start building the habit of building more projects. During the summer, I started an second round of 100 Days of Code and used the challenge as a way to update many of the projects I’ve created in the past. A few months later, I participated in Hacktoberfest so I could become much more confident contributing to open source projects.
This year, I am getting even more focused on my developer job. After looking at dozens of job postings for front-end web developer jobs and doing my first ever tech job interviews, I set goals to learn skills to help me become a better candidate in job interviews. This includes learning skills I often have seen on job postings to including more algorithm practice to prepare for interviews.
So what helps me continue to code four years later?
One thing that keeps me grounded on my coding journey is the coding community. There are so many great coding communities for developers to join from Twitter chats, Slack groups, and Facebook groups. Last year, I created a coding community on Elpha. Elphas Can Code was released as part of the launch of the Communities feature on the platform. It is a place where all women in tech at all stages of their coding journeys came come to get help and support.
If you are a newbie just getting started learning how to code, this is one of the first things you must do. Having a supportive community is a very important resource you need to have along your coding journey. This isn’t a place where you can go to ask how to fix your code. An amazing community is going to be your biggest cheerleader along your journey and celebrate your successes with you. They also help you tune out the negative voices telling you to quit and give up.
There are going to be a lot of negative voices that pop up during your coding journey. These voices don’t just belong to people who want to see you quit. Many times these negatives voices can be the ones come from your head from impostor syndrome. Don’t listen to these voices! What helps me keep my negative voices at bay is something Jillian Michaels always says in her workout DVDs. When things get tough during a workout, she tells the viewer to remember the why. Just thinking of your reason why is going to help you focus and tolerate any how life decides to throw your way.
Another secret that keeps me coding is scheduling time for coding. I set aside 25 minutes to doing coding tutorials and learn a new skill. Then I set aside an hour to work on a coding project. I use the Pomodoro technique to split up the time so I get a little bit of a break in between each session. I encourage all developers to do a coding challenge like 100 Days of Code, 301 Days of Code, or my own coding challenge Disney Codes Challenge. A coding challenge isn’t a great way to just build good coding habits and make projects for your portfolio. These challenges are a great way to learn about what your strengths and weaknesses are as a developer. You can think of coding challenges as your way to check up on where you are now as a developer and what you need to work on.
Scheduling time to code just helps you make time for coding. It has allowed me to make more time to do other non-technical things in my life. In 2018, I discovered I was spending way too much time on my computer and not making time for hobbies I wanted to do. This made me feel stressed since I wasn’t making time to allow myself to relax. So I began scheduling parts of my day so I could do some crafting, read a non-technical book, or learn a non-programming topic. These were positive steps towards achieving a healthy balance I was looking for and getting me back on track.
Throughout my coding journey, I often think about my high school version of myself and what advice I would like to give her if I ever had a chance to talk to my younger self.
The advice I would give my younger self is to use this time to learn about myself and figure out what I want. I would have encouraged her to read the book What Color is Your Parachute and do the flower exercises to start thinking about what career is the best fit for her. I would also encourage my younger self to try new hobbies and use this time to learn new skills. I’d especially tell her to try things she’s doesn’t think she might be good at because she might end up liking it.
Most importantly, I would have told my younger self to stop comparing herself to other people and trying to keep up with what other people are doing. Instead, I would encourage her to compare herself to a past version of herself to see how much she has grown and accomplished since then. I would also encourage my younger self to be less worried about what her future should be and concentrate on just being the best version of herself she can be and not trying to be perfect.