Day 5: First Line of Code

I know in order to succeed at any goal,  you have to put forth consistent effort. There is so much to learn in the tech field.  I’m also learning how rewarding it is to visualize the fruit of my labor. I started an intro to HTML course through Khan Academy and it’s proving to be most helpful. I like their step by step and interactive approach to teaching this class. This is like learning a foreign language, but in the end, I’m sure the results will yield much benefit!

I think once I understand the concepts of coding, it will become easier day by day. I’m a visual learner so watching someone do the steps and then by me taking notes and practicing it on my own, seems to be the best way for me to grasp this new language. I’m debating if I want to go back to college and get my masters degree in Information Systems or continue on this path. If you’re an Engineer,  do you mind sharing your beginning experiences and ways you learned to master coding? Thanks! ūüėä

https://www.khanacademy.org/computing/computer-programming/html-css/intro-to-html/p/challenge-write-a-poem

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8 Second Thoughts: To Be or Not To Be?

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At what point in a person’s life do you feel they are prepared to be a mentor? Should you be a mentee first? I believe in the power of mentorship and if at all possible anyone who is capable should take on this responsibility and pay it forward.

Let’s talk!

8 Second Thoughts is a platform of short but sweet conversations between you and I every Wednesday on various topics. Lets stay engaged!

Day 4: Connecting the Dots

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I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about how people with totally different careers transitioned into tech and love it! Its amazing how the skills you acquire from one field can transfer into another so seamlessly. I’m sure there is a learning curve and foundational skills you have to grasp, but for the most part it appears the change is well worth the work. I read how a chef, artist, and a teacher made the switch with no thoughts of going back. It all got me to thinking how can a Writer and Quality Assurance Analyst like myself make the switch? What skills do I possess now that are relatable to becoming a Software Engineer in the near future? I researched the skills needed to becoming an Engineer and compared them to what I already have. Here’s my list of skills:

Communication: Writers, QA Analysts, and Engineers have to have excellent communications skills–written and verbal. All have to have attention to detail when expressing ideas, speaking with customers, and writing down anything relative to the job.

Concentration: All have to be able to concentrate for periods of time. Depending on the job itself, deadlines must be met and you have to therefore focus on the task at hand. I know first hand, as an Analyst it can be a very tedious job that requires long periods of sitting and staring at paperwork and the computer. You definitely have to be patient and make sure to break up the time by simply getting away from your work to breathe. Being able to focus with little to no distractions is the ideal work environment.

Technical: You must have knowledge of how to work a computer, but of course Engineers are more focused on leaning certain technical program languages that Writers and Analysts are not required to know.

Teamwork: Again depending on the job itself, all require working in a collaborative environment.¬† If you are a freelance writer, you primarily work alone but if you work as a writer at a company, you definitely have to have a¬†team work attitude. As an Analyst, team work is imperative to completing tasks and understanding the nature of the business. I’m learning most if not all Engineering jobs require working collaboratively with others–teammates, management, and clients alike.

Customer-Focused: All have to keep the customer in mind. As a writer, you have to engage with your readers. Always ensuring you are keeping their interest by writing relevant and intriguing articles. As an Analyst, the customer is your “bread and butter.” Especially with larger clients, the expectations are higher to deliver results; therefore the responsibility to make the customers happy is a number one priority. As an Engineer, the customers are a primary focus as well. Delivering top-notch products and services ensures the profitability and even the longevity of the company.

Interpersonal: All have to have excellent listening skills in order to interact and work well with others. Being approachable, flexible, and able to resolve issues is critical for the team’s and customer’s success.

I find that connecting the dots in my current roles makes my transition to an Engineering role more feasible. I appreciate all that I’m learning and all that I will continue to learn on this journey. Have I missed anything on my comparison list? If so, please leave your comment. I value constructive criticism and people sharing their experiences and voice.

Day 3: Let’s Do Coffee!

To be quite honest I¬†don’t¬†particularly care for coffee, but its not about the coffee. Its about what happens during the conversation at the table. I learned in my professional career that people in general like to chat over¬†something to drink, be it coffee or tea. They also enjoy sharing their stories with those who admire them. Both of these little¬†idiosyncrasies have served as a win in my life. As an introvert, I used to find myself in a¬†quandary when I¬†wanted to ask a complete stranger a question. I would¬†always secure a seat¬† in the back of the room so as to never be noticed or called on. I would never raise my hand even if¬†I had a burning¬†question to ask. As¬†I grew older and started to move out of my¬†own way, I ventured to the¬†front of the room and made my presence¬†known by raising my hand. Here lately, with my new found passion for tech I’m finding myself in rooms with¬†engineers,¬†mathematicians,¬†developers and the like.¬†I’m¬†intrigued by everything¬†I’m learning and the people I’m meeting along this journey of career changing. The tech world is an extremely¬†different one than corporate. Sneakers, jeans, bring your dog to work days, and team projects are the norm. That doesn’t go to say being in tech is all fun and perks, but it definitely has it’s advantages.

In my “moving out of my own way” journey, I met two lovely women who agreed to become my mentors. I invited them out to chat over coffee. This is the beginning of something powerful. It’s funny how life works out. We picture ourselves being one kind of person… doing one kind of thing and then you find yourself doing a 360 in your life. Making yourself vulnerable and humbling yourself to ask someone to help you is all apart of growth. I believe having one or even two mentors affords you the opportunity to get multiple perspectives, ideas and experiences; which is priceless! Both of my mentors work in two completely different roles at two different companies and that’s what makes it so fascinating. I get to build authentic relationships with women who are in the tech world, who I admire and are working in their purpose. Just think, not too long ago I sat in the back of the room and now I make it my business to find my seat in the front row. The moral of the story is: find your purpose, believe in yourself, raise your hand and ask for what you want. You never know who you will meet or who will add value to your life over a simple cup of java.

Yes, We Do Exist!

I had the pleasure of attending a tech talk on Thursday evening for African American women. It was a game-changer for me. Since I’m new to tech and admit I get a little intimidated in meetings where I feel like a new girl on the block, I didn’t feel so out of place. Not everyone came from a technical background,  but we are all enthusiasts of tech.  It’s amazing to walk in a space with the likes of powerful women who are known for their leadership and expertise as technologists. I learned that black women are indeed coders, engineers, educators, mentors, and so much more in the world of STEM. We had a very open and honest dialogue about our position as women and more importantly, as black women in this growing field where we are under represented. Technology is all around us and in almost all facets of our lives. Behind and in front of some of the most powerful businesses, ideas and start ups lies an African American woman blazing the trail for her fellow sisters.

Along this journey of finding my place in tech, I keep returning back to the movie Hidden Figures as my personal motivation. When I first saw the movie I was intrigued to learn a part of history I had never knew existed. Now, when I watch it the meaning is far more significant. Knowing those three women made sacrifices so that women like me today can dream of what was once impossible is immeasurable. I feel a great honor and duty to live up to my fullest potential as an emerging developer. Whatever direction my career goes, now I appreciate the fact that there’s women who came before me, ones on my path and those who will come after me who will disrupt technology as we know it!

Day 2: Like a Fish Out of Water

Some days I feel woefully out of my depth. Like a fish out of water, I’m out of my element. I attended a very intriguing tech event yesterday and I came prepared, or so I thought. I had my resume and business cards on deck. I sat up straight in my blazer and at full attention, but as I discretely looked around the room, I noticed I was the only one who looked like me! Everyone else looked “comfortable.” You know, laid back and casually dressed. I keep hearing most tech companies aren’t with the whole suit and tie get up. They prefer to work in a more relaxing environment.  I’m slowly learning the truth of this. I come from corporate so short sleeve shirts and sneaks aren’t the norm except on business casual Fridays, but I’m more than willing to adjust. 

There were engineers, developers and some non tech humans in the room, but for the most part I was amongst the few who brought zero years of tech experience to the table. I need to embrace that and get over it, but it’s a little intimidating in all honesty. The little cynical part of me kept asking if I’m making the wrong move. If I’m really cut out for this world I’m about to step into, but then I quickly remembered my reason for being there. I was there to learn, to network, but most of all, to reconfirm my mission. I’m going to disrupt the status quo of tech. There’s a clear and evident disproportionate number of women and especially minority women in STEM. That has to change and it has to change on all levels within the small start ups and within the large corporations who pride themselves on diversity and inclusion.  It has to start with women like me who are ambitious enough to shake up this culture we live in. It starts with changing our mindsets and the way we see ourselves immersed in tech. We have to expose our little girls to this world so they realize the possibilities for their own future.  We have to create more programs and environments where women can learn, be mentored and feel comfortable raising their hands even when they have little to no idea what they’re doing like me. Regardless of how many rooms I’m in and how many times I feel uncomfortable, I refuse to give up. This journey I’m on is so much bigger than me. When I look back on Days 1 and 2 years from now it’ll all be worth the slight discomfort I felt yesterday!