Every New Beginning Comes from Some Other Beginning's End
February 23, 2017
Well, folks. Fullstack's officially over. (In fairness, it's been over for almost a week now, and I just haven't quite gotten around to writing about it.)
It's...weird. You do this thing for 60+ hours a week for almost five months straight, and you see the same 15 other faces in little squares on your computer every day. And then you drink some wine and sit around with your classmates for a few hours and then on Monday you wake up and realize that you have all the time in the world. (And simultaneously somehow, no time at all.)
I was a little nervous about joining the first Remote Immersive cohort (it's always scary being the first!), but having come out on the other side, I can most definitely say it is and will always be one of the best decisions I've ever made. I made lifelong friends and mentors, learned an incredible amount, and definitely grew as a developer, a teammate, and a person.
I've waxed poetic and sentimental about my experience at Fullstack many times before, so I'll follow the principle of DRY and briefly just reiterate the quality of everything about the program. The curriculum was intense and challenging and sometimes made me want to cry, but it was also incredibly rewarding and enlightening. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to have spent the past five months with, from my classmates and teammates who made working long hours a pleasure, to my instructors and fellows who constantly pushed us and encouraged us and weren't afraid to admit that they sometimes didn't know what they were doing either.
Throughout Senior Phase, we definitely had our ups and downs. In our Grace Shopper project, we learned how to work as a part of a team, how to use Git and GitHub without deleting our entire codebase (although we might have come close a few times), and how to create something substantial from end-to-end. During our final Capstone project, we learned about WebRTC and race conditions (So. Many. Race conditions.) and using the entity-component-system and how to use a technology that's on version 0.4.0 that none of us had touched before.
One of the key lessons I'll take away from Senior Phase and working collaboratively is that I don't give enough positive feedback. When I gave code reviews, I had a habit of glossing over the positives, even though I thought them in my head, and focused instead on what I thought could be improved. When people spend hours grinding away at something and then are courageous enough to show the world (or at least, the other people working on the project), it can be a very vulnerable thing for them. Make those people feel welcomed, and valued, and point out the good things they did, along with the things that you think could be improved. This is also vital to the mentoring work that I'm doing as well; coding is already somewhat frustrating endeavor, and it's nice to know that you're doing a thing or two right even when it seems like everything that can go wrong is going wrong.
We worked hard, but we had some fun, too. One of my favorite memories was on a Friday afternoon, towards the end of Capstone, and all of us were overwhelmed and tired and maybe going a little crazy. We ended up having a team happy hour, where we grabbed our respective drinks and sort of did work but mostly talked about our lives and our hopes and our dreams and our view on politics and controversial issues. As a cohort, we also had a few spontaneous late-night conversations after the day was done, and I always enjoyed those thoroughly. We had game nights and Hot Seat and amazing (and sometimes embarrassing moments) caught and forever preserved on video.
David and Nimit, Fullstack's founders, by virtue of who they are and their efforts and the people that they've found to be on their team, have created something very special. Fullstack is one of the most inclusive, friendly, supportive, and fun environments I've ever been in, and in light of the tech industry's ongoing issues with diversity and inclusiveness, that's always an amazing thing to find and to be able to come back to. I'm sad to have my experience come to an end, but I'm incredibly grateful that I was able to become a part of the Fullstack community and that I'll forever get to be a part of it.
So, what's next?
I'm officially on the job hunt! My primary focus will be in the Austin area, but I'm definitely not opposed to moving for the right opportunity. If you know anyone looking for junior devs, I'd love to chat! And if you don't have or know someone who has jobs, but have advice that you want to offer, I'm all ears. :)
More importantly, I have a few fun things in the pipeline:
A few personal projects — first up will probably be a rich-text-with-spell-check-to-markdown app that I was considering doing for my Fullstack hackathon project. More details TBD. I also really want to finally actually learn Elm and C#/Unity (I know, those are two very different things)...but the whole 24-hours-in-a-day thing is inconvenient.
I'd like to get involved in an organization like Code for America or Tech for Campaigns or something where I can use my technical skills to enable civic engagement. I still need to do some research and see how I want to proceed with this, but it's most definitely a prominent part of my agenda.
Continuing to be a part of Women Who Code, giving talks, and mentoring women who are just getting their feet into the coding waters. Come join me at a Women Who Code event around Austin! I'm also in the process of expanding my meetup scene a bit, so if you have suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them! I'm not looking for anything in particular; mostly just an easy-going community who likes to geek out about code.
I've signed on to help a classmate, Rachel, with a project she started at Fullstack that she's now turning into a legitimate non-profit. It's called Working Women Advocates. We hope it'll serve as a place for women to find and connect with advocates and allies to help them through being a woman in the workplace, whether they're actively facing challenges like discrimination or harassment, or they just need a woman's ear to vent to. While doing research for this project, Rachel was suprised to find out that nothing like this really existed — so here we are! I'll be focused primarily on the dev/tech side, and we have other people who are better than me at other things to do those other things, but we're definitely still looking for more help. Come check us out, and let us know if you're interested in offering your skills or a small donation! (We're in the process of setting up a legitimate non-profit, but unfortunately we can't offer tax-deductible donations at the time!) We've received a lot of positive feedback so far, as well as a lot of interest in helping us, and we'd love for you to be a part of it!