Computer science student and aspiring mobile developer. When I’m not working to connect people with the information they need, you can find me cycling through the East Bay hills or coming up with a new craft cocktail to add to my collection.

My Personal Story

When people ask me what my favorite part of High School was, my answer usually surprises them; glassblowing. Glassblowing is tantalizingly challenging because it requires a mastery of the material in so many states. Nothing had challenged me like that before, while still allowing me to think like an artist. By the end of that year I was the student teacher, and had set up a side business selling my work to help pay the rent at home.

While I never wanted to be a full time artist, working and thinking creatively has always been a part of me. While I could have chosen to pursue a liberal arts degree, what I really wanted was a career that allowed me to bring together many subjects, in a way that fulfilled my creative needs. I spent the next five years studying Biology, Psychology, Genetics and Mechanical Engineering before finding my home in Computer Science.

While my education in school played a role in shaping me into who I am today, my work outside the classroom has been equally important. I have worked full time since I turned sixteen, and have approached each day as a learning experience. In that time I have been able to pick up new skills, make new friends and grow both myself and the people I work with. My years in sales and customer service taught me communication skills and patience in a way no class ever could, and my time as a supervisor showed me how to not only direct a team, but work alongside them in a compassionate and inspiring way. Balancing these two worlds, in addition to my amateur cycling schedule, has honed my time management skills, and pushed me to stay motivated and dedicated to the task at hand.

Throughout this past year LinkedIn has been a wonderful tool for me to connect with people in a much more meaningful way than just exchanging email addresses. Breaking into a field like Software Development without a degree from a top level school is difficult, but through LinkedIn I have reconnected with old friends and coworkers, many of them now working successfully in the tech industry. I know I have what it takes to be successful in this constantly evolving market, and I look forward to proving it.


My Journey into Programming

While my first experience with programming was a course on MatLab I took two years ago, I didn’t begin pursuing it in earnest until I saw an ad for a App Academy on Facebook. It touted its twelve-week path from beginner to full time developer, with no cost up front. I immediately began researching the requirements to apply, and began teaching myself Ruby. I spent the next couple of weeks researching other bootcamps, and I finally decided that if I was going to go the bootcamp route, I wanted to apply to the best one: Hack Reactor. It was a JavaScript only camp that singularly focused on web development, and had the highest placement rate of any bootcamp. The downside was their acceptance rate, a measly 2%. I decided to channel my inner Hans Solo and thought “never tell me the odds,” and began teaching myself JavaScript, HTML/CSS and the beginnings of algorithms. The next semester I signed up for Intro to Programming and Intro to Computer Science courses, and started teaching myself data structures and algorithms. The more I learned about the subject, the more I fell in love with it. After years of searching I had finally found a subject that allowed me to work on challenging problems in a creative and interactive way. I took every course on JavaScript and HTML/CSS on Codecademy, then found CodeWars and HackerRank to do practice problems. When it came time to interview with Hack Reactor the two hours flew by, but the week until they got back to me felt like a month. When I finally heard back, I had a mini heart attack. I had been accepted.

Now that I had the acceptance letter, I began thinking about the next steps, so I started talking to the two people in my life who know the tech industry better than anybody else.  Both my roommate and stepmom are long-time Google employees, and have steered me through my computer science education. They congratulated me on my progress, but had the same thoughts as to what my next steps should be. While attending Hack Reactor would be a great option, since I was able to make that much progress in under six months, I would be better off teaching myself the rest of the way, and really learn the fundamentals of Computer Science. My roommate advocated for Android development in particular. When I looked into the subject, I found a wealth of resources online, most notably with an organization called Udacity. They have a number of courses on Android Development, starting with the very basic and continuing through to much more advanced topics. I began taking them asap, knocking out six month courses in a month or two. I have built a number of apps through these classes, and have learned a ton about software development in the process.

While diving deep into specific technologies has been both challenging and  rewarding, I have never lost sight of the bigger picture. Languages, frameworks and devices change, but the knowledge of how to structure a program doesn’t. A point my mentors drilled into me from the very beginning was that a great software developer can work in any language on any platform, because they understand design principles and hardware interactions at a deep level. Mastering this is my goal, and I know I will succeed.