Learning about code, learning about myself.

Since graduating University in December 2011 with a degree in Information and Decision Sciences, I’ve carved a specific niche for myself in doing data work on a contract basis for nonprofit advocacy groups. Over the years, I found myself craving bigger, more tech-oriented projects within the private sector. Being tired of it being just a daydream, I made the decision to begin my career transition.

During this transition, I noticed I most enjoyed was taking ownership of whatever product or campaign we’re building, and doing everything in my power to make it come alive. As part of me building relevant knowledge, I’m the Product manager for the development of a Know-Your-Rights mobile app for immigrants in the Chicago Metropolitan area. However, I knew that to successful Product Manager, I had to go beyond my data and marketing experience to learn how coders work.

I’ve always been attracted to writing code, due to the way coders logically solve problems. With that being said, I don’t imagine myself as a full-time developer — I see myself as more of a support person, advocating for and helping all the people in my team.

I took a chance and applied to the “Grow With Google Challenge Scholarship: Android Basics” program hoping to learn more about developing Android apps so I can better work with my future teams. I was delighted to have been accepted to this chance to achieve a personal goal of mine.

I started the classes, and I immediately started running into my fears and anxieties. I was feeling a real sense of imposter syndrome when I had to watch the lessons two or three times to understand them. These thoughts kept growing, especially after a failed update caused Android Studio to more or less break. I felt like I was not worthy of being in this cohort.

What got me out of this funk is recalling a quote from Adventure Time, a popular cartoon, in which one of the main characters states:

“Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” 
― Jake the Dog

It helped my thoughs fall into place, realizing that nobody is born an expert. What differentiates the experts from me is that they didn’t quit. Keeping this in my mind, I perservered. Along the way, I learned I can be mentally stronger than I thought, and I can recover from setbacks. Along the way, I even learned about version control using GitHub to better keep track of my code — just like a real coder.

This morning, I finished the final exam of the lesson: a quiz app. I was able to use everything I learned, while learning new things on my feet, such as working with conditional statements in an unfamiliar scenario. I was so proud of myself for having completed the challenge, as well as learning something new. Having this reassurance in my skills reignited my confidence in applying to a new job, after a long rut. Along the way, I’m going to teach Android basics to my students at Latinx Code, a nonprofit I started so I can be the resource I never had to these Latinx youth.

All in all, thank you Google and Udacity, for helping me feel like I’ve leveled up in real life.