Donna Zhou — Developer

Donna Zhou is a developer who decided to leave the big city for a life in Berlin. She is currently running the codebar Berlin chapter as well as continuing her journey as a developer. You can find her online at:

dancingTeeth | dondonz

What did you want to be growing up?

I wanted to be a stand-up comedian.

When did your interest in tech start?

Tech was always a hobby of mine. Mum bought a second-hand computer when I was 5. It had the processing power of a biscuit. I learned the ‘cd’ command to boot up video games. Despite the auspicious start, it would be another 20 years before I started programming.

Tech was always a hobby of mine.

You recently became a developer, what made you want to transition?

I used to be a banker (please forgive me). I learned a lot, but I didn’t enjoy my job.

My next gig was at a young tech company. I thought the developers were having the most fun. My colleagues encouraged me to read “Learn Python The Hard Way”. I was completely hooked! Not long after, I enrolled in a web development bootcamp.

What is your favourite thing about being a developer?

I loved coding as a hobby. To me, coding is puzzle solving. It’s different to a sudoku or crossword puzzle, because you have an infinite range of solutions. With so many possible solutions, you have the space to be creative.

It’s nice to be paid for my hobby.

Whilst learning to code what was a fun project or thing that you built?

When I started learning JavaScript, I was challenged myself to build a game. In a few days, I wrote an extremely irritating Flappy Bird game. It was very satisfying to see my friends enjoying the game. My friends were soon playing hundreds of times to beat someone’s new top score.

How did you get involved with codebar?

I first joined codebar as a student. It was awesome. I learned a great deal and fixed a major bug in my app! It’s fantastic to be able to create the same welcoming and relaxed learning environment in Berlin.

What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to become a better developer, which means more learning in my own time. Outside coding, I am trying to improve my German. I am a beginner so everything feels like an enormous achievement. I cannot articulate in words how exciting it is to understand an episode of Peppa Pig.

What advice would you give to aspiring developers?

Ask for help. There are so many free resources online, it is hard to know where to start. Come to events like codebar and ask coaches for resources and help.

Any new endeavour is always hardest at the beginning. Don’t be shy to ask for help. You will be surprised by how many people want to help you!