My Seismic Shift To A Dev Career

In a similar vein as to how programmers mangle and tame finicky code, let me express how difficult it is to mangle and tame our own lips and/or fingers to produce a beautiful sonic output, and the theoretical foundations needed to do thus. In response to a conversation about the beauty, simplicity, even elegance that Vim adds to a programmer’s workflow, perhaps I could mention the intrinsic reward after you’ve spent a 3-hour rehearsal focusing on stylistic accuracy in Bach’s Musical Offering:

I used to think I would be a full-time professional musician.

I distinctly remember writing that I would major in either piano or flute performance in college when I was in 4th grade, as part of some reflection activity for Mrs. Thoftne. Fast forward and there I was, a college sophomore and fully committed to the degree. In a way, I was a music major not just 4 years in college, but the 9 years beforehand since making my 4th grade pact to the conservatory gods.

I studied off-campus in the ACM Chicago Program and there gained an interest in education.

In the Chicago Program, for part of our Core Course we looked at all the factors that go into deciding which school your kids get to attend. Although I went to a public school myself, it was clear CPS students, parents, and teachers were being cheated out of a lot. I picked up a minor in Education Studies, and my graduation coincided with the 2011 closings of 100 CPS schools. My next step was to serve in CPS with City Year Chicago and help 9th graders with their math.

Putting in 10+ hours of Python practice for the mentorship program has not been an issue. The challenge has been shifting from a practice-focused emphasis to a project/performance-focused emphasis.

Tutorial after tutorial was reminiscent of learning music — just following the method books would suffice. That said, there were some key moments where ideas I had for bringing my learning to fell flat on their faces. I don’t blame my ideas for that, but I do blame myself in missing their execution.

It was when I tried veering off the tutorial train tracks when I first crashed and burned. I remember following a Youtube tutorial for getting started with Django, but because I was so intent on customizing the material to my own goals, I threw myself off course, and in attempting to start over I lost my momentum and motivation for that project.

Image Credit: Youtube: DevelopmentThatPays

I’m not sure I took the correct approach in my last blog.

Let me officially announce that ‘JK’, I’m not going to continue the sarcastic styling I used in my last blog (as you have surely noticed by now). That was heck of a lot of fun to write, but it was admittedly not Pythonic — at least not intuitively so. Why use Python like a word processor if there are a million ways to write meant for just that — writing.

Courtesy of Thug Life Shirts

Since joining up the mentorship program, I have taken some serious strides toward the web dev career path.

I am currently enrolled in General Assembly and am laying the groundwork in a career as a web developer. The most interesting part of entrepreneurship to me at this stage is the infrastructure of an organization’s data, and key to this is the consumer-facing and organization-facing parts of the business — mainly the website. I love that websites today are not just a marketing tool but a place for clients to spend actual (or at least a close simulation of) quality time. And that goes for employees as well. The frustrating inconsistencies in my experiences with computers and the internet have often been turned around and made into fun, game-like experiences. Perhaps my and my friends’ childhood dreams to become game designers is closer to reach that I once thought.

New Adventure, even within coding

Right up until enrolling in and beginning General Assembly, the world of front-end development really started opening up. I had not previously understood that HTML and CSS are essential to any sort of front-end work, and JavaScript had always eluded me in what it could be useful for.

The assessment followed by the intense pre-work for the class could have been ugly.

I had a quick 4–5 day turnaround to get finished with both the interview process, assessment, and the average-40-hour pre-work required. But as I began the assessment, I realized how the approach was as caring as it was demanding — every step of the way was the right level of learning for me and only assessed my ability to follow along and to apply the concepts to my own versions of their tutorials.

The 40 hours sounded daunting as heck. I knew I would have to get started right away.

On Wednesday night I officially decided on the program and by Thursday I was started on my marathon spring to complete a week’s work in a few days before the program started that Monday.

I was balancing this on top of the end of my time with Americorps. My leadership agreed, this was right for me and it would make sense to finish up my 2nd year of service a couple weeks early, in order to jumpstart my next step, which is one of their goals for Americorps members in the first place. So I said goodbye to my comrades, my fellow team leaders, my own team, each of them so ready to take the reigns into the end of the school year. I accomplished a lot in these last two years, but I am thus all the more eager to push on toward the frontiers of coding! Onward!

By the time I hit hour 32–34 of the pre-work, it was still only Saturday. Hurrah! Finishing up in time to relax a little bit the day before General Assembly was to start! Little did I know the brick wall I would hit with the DOM in JavaScript. It reminded me of my learning in using classes in Python. Attributes and methods, all over the place in both languages, but the syntax and specific tools differed so much from Python that I struggled and used much of Sunday to complete unit 11/11.

I was tired out but definitely proud to complete the pre-work, and doing so with such vigor has sent me into General Assembly with momentum and motivation — any down time I have I am preparing upcoming projects and even writing versions of class code in Python to compare. What a blast it has been, and what a beautiful welcoming into the web-develop career path.

Looping back to Python tho

How can I keep up my l33t Python chops? When will I get a chance to use Django if I’m in an immersive web-dev bootcamp that focuses on a much larger breadth than just 1 ORM?

Well, that’s just the kind of challenge I feel like my life up to this point has suited me up for. What does music have to do with tutoring math? What does tutoring math have to do with developing websites and software somewhere down the road? What does it all have to do with itself? I don’t know, stop asking so many personal questions! Personal space! Anyway, at a certain point it’s makes more sense to focus on the capacity to serve through such tools. With music you influence people’s nerves with organized sound waves, with pedagogy you deliver continuously improving algorithms to suit peoples’ learning styles, and with web development, you bring to life humankind’s best ideas.

Python has tremendous capacity to help service in any of the ways I listed in the previous sentence, so I know I will be incorporating it along the way, even if just as an extra challenge.

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