From Zero to Django Hero

Django, education, Learning, Python, software engineering, Teaching, Women in Tech
django girls regalia

Unicorn Colors

In November, I participated in my first Django Girls event.  At the time, I was learning Ruby on Rails.  I remember being astounded by the differences between Rails’ and Django’s design patterns.  Although I didn’t get to write much Python that day, I was hooked.  In four hours I was able to write and deploy my first Django blog.  I decided to write my capstone project for Ada Developers Academy using Django and React.

Since then, I have become more involved in the coding community.  I received the PyLadies scholarship to PyCon.  At the last monthly PuPPy event, I gave my first lightning talk about my experience at PyCon this year.  I have become friends with the fantastic founder of She’s Coding (Nathalie Steinmetz) and have volunteered at the Tech Women Rising and WIT Regatta.

As my five month internship at Tableau winds down, I have been realizing that I’ve been doing and learning a lot this past year.  So far, I have moved across the country, graduated from Ada Developers Academy, learned Python and Ruby, dabbled in AWS, started my career in tech, and run my first marathon.  That isn’t even all of it.

When I heard that there would be another Django Girls event.  I decided that it was time for me to give back.  I promptly told Nathalie from She’s Coding that I was interested in volunteering.

I’m here today and I was able to help a woman named Georgia on her coding journey.  With my assistance, she was able to complete her first blog in Django.  Congratulations, Georgia!  We started with some Python shell calculations and learned about data structures. It’s great that I have been able to come full circle and help someone else learn Django.

Learning and teaching Django

Learning and teaching Django

JavaScript Frameworks Everywhere

JavaScript, Learning

I can’t believe I have been at Ada Developers Academy for over four months.  Time is really flying by and I’m astounded daily by how much I have learned.  Today is the day that I’ll find out which companies I’ll be interviewing with for possible internships.  The past two months, everyone at Ada has been working their mental muscles by practicing whiteboarding and interview questions.  I’m so proud of these hard-working people and I know our efforts will be rewarded in the near-ish future.  The opportunity for interviewing with Ada’s phenomenal sponsors is an opportunity that I’ve been waiting for since I stepped my timid foot in the door.

This week at Ada, we have been getting into Backbone, the JavaScript framework.   I’ve been told that Backbone is used by Trello and Hulu.  We’ve learned about underscore templates, collection events, structuring data, and models.  Like with other frameworks, the abstraction is a bit confusing at first.  Our larger project is working with APIs, making calls, and viewing data in the browser.

In my limited spare time, I have been taking a JavaScript and React course for developers from Udemy.   The impetus to take this Udemy course happened through Twitter when Cassidy Williams was offering a deal on the course she had just written.  This course takes a different approach to teaching JavaScript from my classroom experience.  The Udemy course, so far, has been concentrating on JavaScript in the browser which makes it more interesting.  Since I’ve only had three weeks of JavaScript courses, I know that I could benefit from all the help that is offered.

Later this afternoon, I’ll attend an event from She Codes Now (Seattle).  Here I’ll get an intro to React (which will help with the Udemy course) and eat some pizza.  Pizza is key.

Last week was the Thanksgiving holiday and I spent a lot of time with my mentors.  I have two of them.  There is an industry mentor from the Puget Sound Python Programming group and a previous graduate from Ada Developers Academy.  Both of them have been instrumental in shaping my future as a software engineer.

 

Diving in to JavaScript

JavaScript, Learning

This week begins the deluge of JavaScript.  Looking back on the week, I can see how far I’ve come.  Although this is my first experience coding in JavaScript, I found it to be easier than I was anticipating.  I can thank my wonderful teachers at Ada Developers Academy for that.  They have given me a great foundation to build upon.  Recognizing patterns in languages that I’ve never learned is becoming easier and easier every day.

The week started with some JavaScript syntax.  It progressed into explaining the nuances of ES6 and how it has helped the language by seemingly making it more semantic and object-oriented.  I find that calling ‘this’ in JavaScript is not second nature to me yet, but I hope that It will be soon.  Our class was given the task of doing a project that we had done several months prior with Ruby.  Tasks that previously seemed daunting now looked more than manageable.

Now that we were comfortable coding in Javascript just a bit, they introduced JavaScript in the browser and then the library of jQuery.  Again, here we are standing on the shoulders of giants.  We have these fantastic tools at our fingertips.  I can’t wait until we start learning JavaScript frameworks.

Front End Web Development Week

Learning

For the past week, I’ve been having fun with HTML and CSS.  The week started off slowly with lectures on HTML.  HTML is a straightforward, semantic language.  If you remember to close the tags, you will survive.  CSS on the other hand…  well, I was having difficulties at first.  After working with Ruby for a while, I forgot that there are artistic options when it comes to coding.

The developer’s tools app for chrome and using the “inspect” option on webpages gave insight into the mind of developers.  I was able to see in real time how to change my code so that it adhered the aesthetics that I was striving for.

A fun project that we did in class is called “Meowspace.”  We were given a HTML file and had to style it as close as possible to a wireframe.  A wireframe is a schematic diagram.  Although I didn’t know about it at the time, flexbox for CSS would have made my project a whole lot easier.  For our weekend homework, we had to come up with a personal static site.  Because of this project, I learned that many filters can be placed on pictures and that you can change the shape of boxes in CSS.

Although it was fun to learn HTML and CSS, I’m excited to announce that I’ve started learning Rails!  Many people have told me that frameworks such as rails will teach me to be a coding wizard of sorts.  Right now, I’m in over my head, but I trust that my interest in the subject and my awesome teachers will lead me and the class to victory.

Keeping Busy

Learning

It seems as though all of my hours are spoken for these days.  I’ve been working on pair projects, doing homework, and doing solo projects.  All of this is using the Ruby language.

Monday is when we really get into HTML and CSS.  I’ve had introductory lessons in these languages, but I’m excited to put my knowledge of Practical Object Oriented design to work.  We’ve had weekly reading homework from this book, and I’m slowly coming to understand the important concepts.

I’ve been continually going to the Seattle.rb group.  They had a wonderful monthly social meetup where we attempted to make “Battleship” programs.  I was partnered up with a senior engineer because I am extremely new.  The programmer gave me some valuable lessons in servers.

Another group that I find to be welcoming is the Puget Sound Python group.  I met many people, including the author of Fluent Python, Luciano Ramahalo.

Next week I plan to attend the Google Cloud Summit. I’m grateful to live in a city where I can diversify my knowledge in tech.

 

Starting Computer Science Fundamentals

Learning

It has been a hectic week and a half.  The amount of information that has come my way is astounding.  If I had to give last week a name, it would be “method week.”  I spent all weekend doing homework that wasn’t even required.  Understandably, I was frustrated, but also exhilarated when I came to the correct answers on my homework.

This week is saturated by test driven development.  When working with tests we do something called, red, green, refactor.

1.) Red – Write a test that fails.  You do this to set up the standards which your code has to adhere to.

2.) Green – Make the code pass the test.  Break down what it is that the test requires and make it work.

3.) Refactor – Your code should be as efficient and clearly written as possible.  Ask yourself if this is the case.

Homework for this weekend at Ada Developers Academy isn’t getting any easier, but that’s the beauty of the program.  Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Shruti Van Wicklen is starting to teach our cohort computer science fundamentals.  The skills that I’m learning will elucidate the parts of computers, their languages, and memory that I haven’t had the joy of meeting.

night sky and trees

Night Sky and Trees

Other than class, I’ve been attending meetups with Chick Tech Seattle and Seattle.rb.  They’re both welcoming communities.  I prefer Seattle.rb for a quiet place to do some homework with the option to speak to experts in the Ruby language.  The Women in Tech SelfCare Series  was held at The Riveter, a bright, airy co-working space for women.  In addition to these, I volunteered to be a representative for Ada Developers Academy at a tournament at the Redmond Ridge golf course benefitting Ada as well as Year Up.  It was a lesson in networking and a source of renewed enthusiasm.

First Day of Class

Learning

I wake up at 4:30 AM and stare at the ceiling of my school bus which has been my dwelling for almost a month now.  It’s parked on the side of the road in the suburbs of Seattle so that I won’t get any tickets or undue attention.  Zac (my partner), and Mr. Tickles (the cat), and I have gone on an epic journey in this school bus named Odysseus.  We’ve crossed every major mountain range in the United States.  I learned how to drive a manual.  Friends and family made for welcoming pit stops along the way and we drank in the beauty of nature.  Odysseus is starting to feel like home and that thought scares me a little bit.  Although I know that I have an application submitted for an apartment, for the moment I am technically….. homeless. The thoughts of how the day would play out streamed in my head like some dramatic Netflix show.  Will they pile on an overwhelming amount of work right away?  Will the Adies be friendly?  Will I find out if I will be sleeping under a roof soon?  Will I fall asleep because I’ve gotten up so ungodly early? After the usual scrambling around in the morning, Zac fought his way through traffic and navigates to the Ada Developers Academy Headquarters.  Stepping out of the car, I realize that I desperately need caffeine.  The Starbucks had a line out of the door, but the Cafe Migliore in the financial building where the headquarters is located looks inviting.  With my coffee in hand, I head to the elevator to the tenth floor.  Inside the doors is my cohort.  I’ve never met a lovelier group of people.  Everyone is a new story with unique experience.  Everyone feels as I feel: apprehensive, excited, ready.  Introductions are made and we go through our first day in class.  Near lunch time, I get a text letting me know that my apartment lease is ready to sign.  Success.

As I lay down on my air mattress in the bus for a final time, the buzzing and whirring of vehicles passing on the highway was a comfort, because I know that tomorrow is a new day and opportunity is knocking.

Scholarly Developments

Learning

I’ve been a bit apprehensive when it comes to writing this announcement.  There are some great things on the horizon for me, but I still feel as though it may be a dream.   I have been accepted into the Ada Developers Academy.  There, I said it.  Does that make it any more real to me?

In February, I submitted my application for cohort 8 of the program.  It’s a selective program, but I was optimistic.  The essays that I had written were read and reread until I was satisfied that they were perfect.  Then I got invited for the code challenge of phase II and interview in phase III.  My confidence was slowly growing.  I found that my biggest obstacle in most things was my overwhelming doubt.  By completing the challenges, teaching myself to learn, and utilizing my resources, I could accomplish almost anything.  I told a few close friends at work that being accepted into the Ada Developers Academy was a possibility and kept my plans to myself for the most part.

Finally, I got the notification that I had been accepted.  I bought the mandatory Apple Macbook and am learning to use it day by day. I’ve got to move to the other coast of the country in a month and I couldn’t be happier.