Exploring the Python World Part 1

This is my first blog post of the Spring 2018 Chicago’s Python User Group (ChiPy)- Mentorship Program. I will take you back in time and tell you a little bit about myself and how I ended up as a mentee.

Discovering ChiPy

In the past year, I’ve been thinking about learning programming, but I only had general ideas of how and what I would learn first. My main motivation is to dive into a new career path, and freshened my days with the challenges of learning new technical skills. After doing some online research, I kept finding articles about Python. This was the first programming language of many, and its users don’t hesitate to express how much they love it. On top of all that, it is open source!

In the early Fall of 2017, I was searching for “techy” clubs in the Chicago area, when suddently, I came across the ChiPy meetups. I signed up because it was the most straightforward way to find out more about the Chicago Python community. But I have to admit, I had some reservations before the first event, which mostly came from my newbie instincts. I guess I saw it as an exclusive circle, and believed once I brought up how new I was in Python, I was going to offend somebody.

Backup plan…

My first impression of ChiPy events: fairly casual networking atmosphere yet they showcase a wide variety of interesting Python related topics through the monthly presentations (I have to mention, there’s also free food!). I kept coming back!

Later on, I attended the meetups where Spencer and Rob (former mentees) presented their projects. -“I then thought… I can do more, I should get more involved.” A couple months later, there I was, submitting my application for the Spring 2018 Mentorship Program.

My project

This is just a rough idea, but what I have in mind is an application to give users the ability to search for different jobs, the main objective is to serve as a tool for people who want to start a new career in tech. Featuring:

  • Top list of skills in x or y profession/position and resources available to obtain them.
  • Type of education attained by these professionals.
  • Projected demand/growth for the future.(Using numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

How did I come up with this idea?

Growing up, I never had a mentor to help me develop skills for certain industries. I was raised in a small town in the Northern Pacific side of Costa Rica (side note: the mainland doesn’t look like what you seen in Jurassic Park), I didn’t have enough influences in my life to talk about coding, STEM majors or the tech industry. There were no “techy” clubs at my high school. At that point, I only knew teachers, including my dad, and people who worked in the tourism industry. Now that internet access is widespread, it has become a lot easier to access information, which is where my project idea comes in.

Why should anybody care, who could see any benefit from this?

  • Many in the public school system with little to no extracurricular opportunities or finances to enroll in additional courses.
  • Many like me, with a college degree but wanting to change their career path and tired of hearing from recruiters about call center or administrative jobs.

How am I going to achieve this — the most common question is — how much programming/Python do you know?

Hmm let’s see… my background, well I have a Bachelors in Business Marketing, but no programming was involved there. As far as coding goes, I recently finished an HTML & CSS certification. After all the memes I have seen, I’m well aware those are not programming languages. But it gave me some hands-on practice with text editors, crashing and fixing my code, and that’s also why I opened my GitHub account.

Python? Yes, OK, I have tried some introductory online courses (Codecademy, DataCamp, Learn Python The Hard Way).

But let’s look at the big picture, what are my overall goals for the ChiPy Mentorship Program

The main areas I would to learn more of, or complete during this program:

  • Backend & Frontend, how they work together to create applications and websites — to understand the behind the scenes.
  • I would like to end the program feeling more comfortable using Python — installing and using different packages.
  • Get the foundations of my project in place, and work my way up to make my application worth using, and later keep incorporating web frameworks and Front-End tools. This will continue to grow after the mentorship program ends.
  • Make more connections in the Python world.
  • Get a new job!!!

My progress after week 1

Currently…

I discussed my project idea with my mentor Jordan, after that I decided to narrowing it down. He suggested to find a database for Tech jobs, and even consider narrowing it down further by focusing on Python related jobs. A Python Career Explorer. Jordan also suggested to get a good grasp of different tools and concepts in order to get a good foundation of my Python knowledge, such as:

  • Syntax of Python 3.
  • Set up a Virtual Environment and learn why this is a good practice.
  • APIs, this is a very useful concept to incorporate to my project. I’ve been trying to find public APIs of job postings, that consistently show skill levels.
  • Learn more about data structures.
  • More Git, because you never know enough of it.
  • Flask for now, and work my way up to Django.

Resources I have been using

  • How to Think Like a Computer Scientist (book by Allen B. Downey).
  • Automate the Boring Stuff (book by Al Sweigart).
  • Flask Web Development (book by Miguel Grinberg).

Thanks for reading, come back for more details in the upcoming weeks.

…TO BE CONTINUED!