Kara Stubbs — Software Engineer

Kara is a Software Engineer at MOO, organiser of Queer Code London, ex codebar student now coach 🙌🙌 , avid table football player and a big Jeff Goldblum fan.

You can find Kara on the internet at:

@kiraarghy | Github

What did you want to be growing up?

I know it sounds boring, but I really wanted to be a dentist. I was attracted by the skill that came with the job, and to some degree the prestige. I however soon realised the sheer amount of work that was required to study for it, and as a generally unmotivated teen I decided to study biochemistry instead.

At what age did your interest in tech started? ​

As a millennial, technology and the internet has always been there. I dabbled a bit in programming at college but was ultimately discouraged from doing a Computer Science degree as you had to be good at maths to do it. It was only during the last year I have become really interested in it.

What made you want to transition to being a developer?

I had originally intended to go on to law-school after I finished my masters degree, provided I saved enough money. After uni I went into the NHS and worked as a clinical trials administrator for two years. Unfortunately after working in admin for two years, another job where I wrote and read documents all the time didn’t seem that attractive.

I thought about jobs that I would enjoy in the long term, they had to be creative and challenging. In the end this became a decision between becoming a developer, or learning how to weld bikes.

After several months of codebar, an internship, and two months at MOO, I know I made the right choice.

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

This monstrosity: https://goldblumsimulator2017.glitch.me/

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why? ​

I have really good memories of writing my first React app at codebar, and thinking to myself: “wow, I made it do that?!?!?!?”

My favourite project was the work I did at Bite the Ballot on the redux of their Verto app [not released as of yet.] It was the first big codebase I worked on as a developer. I think the coolest part of it was we designed the interface to be a fully accessible [use of native elements and Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) attributes.] It taught me some really important things about writing accessible code which I have taken forwards into my work.

How did you get involved with codebar? ​

My friend Hannah went along to it, and she persuaded me to come. I think I did the Intro to JS tutorial with Sofia, and just continued from there.

Why do you keep coming back to codebar? ​

The main reason was that I knew coming to codebar regularly meant that even if I only coded at that codebar session, I had at least learnt something for that week. The other was the great community, everyone was regularly checking in on you, interested in what you were doing, and offering help.

What are your plans for the future? ​

I intend to work at MOO for a while, I really love my job there and the challenges it provides. I think in the future it would be cool to have the freedom to work freelance or in a software co-op.

In my free-time I want to continue to mentor at codebar to give people the same chances that I had. I regularly host a meet-up called Queer Code London though try to balance the aforementioned with my own projects and learning.

What is one thing you found terrifying when learning to code, how did you get over your fear, and what do you think of it now?

API calls!! I saw them as some code abyss that I never wanted to touch. I ended up going to my MOO interview with very little idea of how they worked, and of course they asked me a question about them. After the interview I looked into APIs so that next interview I wouldn’t be so afraid. Now I’m mostly over my fear, and use them daily at work!

What advice would you give to any aspiring developers who are reading this?

Quickfire 5:

  1. You don’t have to go to a bootcamp to learn how to code. It’s harder to learn on your own but it’s cheaper, and makes you sound cool when you tell others.
  2. Stay in contact with people you meet at codebar, they can be invaluable for support, and networking when you’re looking for a job.
  3. Meetups are super good for meeting new people, learning new things, and keeping you inspired.
  4. Code regularly, it helps to reinforce lessons, and is good for keeping your interest up.
  5. Most controversial: Don’t be scared of frameworks, I learnt most of my javascript in React, it was a lot easier not having to interact with the DOM as much, and made me very attractive to employers.