print(“Do you want fries with that?”)

It’s no secret that I’m new to programming. After 8 years of working in a career that I didn’t exactly enjoy, I decided in mid-2016 that I was going to do something about it. At the time, aside from some basic familiarity with a few html tags, I knew nothing about coding, yet for some reason I thought it was a brilliant idea to quit my job and learn to program. In early-2016, I’m quite certain that I could not have even named a programming language, let alone written some code in one that actually did something. To get myself started, I tackled some online tutorials, learning basic Ruby as I worked my way through the introductory assignments for DevBootcamp.

I emerged 6 months later, absolutely in love with programming…But, with only 6 months of experience behind me, I still struggled to sound like someone who knew what they were talking about in a job interview. Heck, I didn’t have any idea what I was talking about.

Interviewer: “Can you explain how the internet works?”
Me: “Yes, but I need to consult my friend Google first.”

But, what I did know: How to learn. For my final project at DevBootcamp, I had 8 days to teach myself Python, and I did…to a certain extent. Could I talk about any of the stuff that I had taught myself though? Nope, certainly not. But, I could code for hours and figure out how to make things do things. That’s all that matters, right?

Enter ChiPy.

Right off the bat, my ChiPy mentor told me that I needed to learn how to talk about programming. After a bunch of failed job interviews, I couldn’t have agreed with him more. He asked me what topics I’d like to present to him for practice, and I stammered, trying to think of things that could possibly be worthwhile. Eventually, he organized my thoughts enough to figure out what subjects would benefit me. I presented my first assigned topic to him a few weeks ago (SOLID Principles), and then he helpfully critiqued my horrible attempt at delivery.

My next presentation is coming up (client/server interaction), and I hope to knock a few items off of his list of critiques. I don’t think I’ll be presenting at any coder conferences any time soon, but that’s hardly the goal. I just want to learn and to improve, which he’s pushing me to do. I’m learning a lot through the research, and I’m filling in the gaps of my understanding. In addition to strengthening my Python skills through continued work on my Tic Tac Toe API (which is coming along nicely by the way — See figure 3.1.), I’m also learning to talk about programming in general. Both are incredibly important skills to have in this field. Recently, I’ve begrudgingly had to admit to myself: As valuable as spending hours problem-solving and Googling for answers is, it won’t help you in the middle of a job interview.

Figure 3.1: Flask API responds with its moves.

Additionally, my mentor has also assigned me a blog post (not this one) about config files…since those are also kind of important.

Minor, insignificant, tiny, little side-note:

Oh, did I fail to mentioned that I got a job this week? Well, I did!

They don’t use Python. (I know. I was sad about it too.) But, it was much easier for me to navigate the config files of their Java programs thanks to my ChiPy mentor urging me to research them weeks before I landed the job. Otherwise, my first day may have looked something like this:

Supervisor: “Open up the config file.”
Me: “Erm…”

Instead, it looked something like this: