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Cover image for Kara Luton went from ballet and public relations to developer and other things I learned recording her DevJourney (#158)

Kara Luton went from ballet and public relations to developer and other things I learned recording her DevJourney (#158)

Tim Bourguignon πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ
Host of the DevJourney podcast, Mentoring πŸ₯‘ & Engineering Leadership β™₯ Chief Learning Officer @ MATHEMA
Originally published at timbourguignon.fr ・3 min read

This week, I published Kara Luton's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:

  • Kara's first passion was ballet. After high school, she moved to New York to train as a professional dancer. But after a while juggling her trainee program and school, she realized that she wasn't as much into dancing anymore. So she moved back home, passed a degree in public relations, and worked as a music publicist for a few years. The work was fantastic and glamorous, but she had no work-life balance, and the tasks were very repetitive. She didn't feel mentally challenged. And that's when she discovered CodeHackademy. At first, coding was "like a game she could do for hours." Kara quit almost on the spot and enrolled in a Bootcamp.
  • Because of her past in PR, Kara is an excellent networker. When she applied for her first job, she crafted emails that helped her stand out. She got quite a bit of pushback because of her Bootcamp education.
  • When you are interviewing for a company, you are as much interviewing "them" as they are interviewing you. Kara asked them, for instance, "how do you take time for your junior developers to keep growing in their careers?"
  • During her first job, Kara played catch-up, trying "to be on par with other developers, to level up her Javascript skills" for instance.
  • Kara tried many different learning mediums: books, text tutorials, but she discovered that she is a visual learner. Thus, she maximized the video and in-person learning experience. That's also why Kara is heavily involved in communities. Kara co-created the Nashville chapter of TechLadies and took over the leading of the Nashville Women Programmers group.
  • Working remotely as a junior programmer, Kara felt isolated, but her current employer encouraged her to pair-program a lot. And just before COVID hit, she was about to join a Women-Only-Coworking space.
  • Kara wants to help others grow; that's why she is pursuing an engineering management career in the long run. The company she currently works for, CrowdStrike, has a clear engineering ladder, with a path split at the senior engineer level. That's where Kara sees herself in the future. She has made this clear with her manager, who has been helping her get ready for this, for instance, helping with onboarding and guiding interns.
  • Kara reaffirmed the importance of feedback. When she was dancing, she was getting feedback constantly. In her first job, Kara was not getting enough of it. Now she found a way to work with her manager to get feedback every week.
  • "More diversity doesn't mean just having more women on your team."

Advice:

  • Be patient; you are not going to be the best developer out there out of your Bootcamp.
  • "It's going to be hard, but you can do it, it's going to take a while, keep practicing and keep going at it, and it will get better"

Quotes:

  • "I just quit and started coding; for some reason, I dove right in and had no fear"
  • "You're from a boot camp, you're too green - hey, I learned all this in 3 months, imagine what I can learn in the next three months at your company!"

Thanks, Kara, for sharing your story with us!

You can find the entire episode and the show notes on devjourney.info or directly here on DEV

Did you listen to her story?

  • What did you learn?
  • What are your takeaways?
  • What did you find particularly interesting?

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