A lot can and will happen in a year

When I decided to move down to South Florida and fundamentally change my life, I was meant to share the burden of change with a partner who was going to change his life as well. Before moving, we broke up, and I am currently doing the “life change” alone. Looking back, if I knew I would be alone during this process, maybe I would not have taken the giant leap of faith to move here, away from friends and family. It is lonely, and I find myself wondering what would have happened if I stayed up north. That being said, not seeing snow for the first time during winter was fantastic!

After Wyncode, I was under the impression that I was going to land a Junior Development position that paid $45,000-$55,000. After living with poverty-level income for the last few years, this idea is what has driven me to take such a drastic leap of faith. Immediately after Wyncode, I was offered a job with a start-up that paid a salary and had benefits! As a musician, this is almost unheard of, so I accepted the offer. That being said, I had a very bad feeling in my gut, as they were never very transparent about what my duties would be, my title, or the amount of hours they expected from me. I was very clear, in the beginning, that I gave up a lot to be a coder, and once I found out they were going to ultimately keep their off-shore developers, I decided to leave that job. It was an “Operations” position; something similar to what I did back in Chicago, part-time, for 7 years in a law office as a supplemental job to my music career.

If I gave up my first love of music, something that has been a vital part of me since age 8, sold all of my furniture, rented out my condo, shelled out $10K to go to a coding school, only to end up working 50 hour work weeks in a job doing “Operations”, what was the point of doing any of the above?! I took an extreme risk to change my life for the better, not to disturb my work-life balance doing something I did not even enjoy!

About 2 months ago, I expressed my frustration to someone who has been able to help me along in this learning process. Needless to say, I left the Operations gig and am currently working, part-time, for a start-up as their Junior backend developer.

The first week on the job was invigorating. I’m finally a “real programmer”! This is the path that I gave so much up to be on! As I met my teammates, who are all very professional, kind and encouraging, I figured out how to set up my environment. I played around in VIM, downloaded iTerm, and read about nginx server configuration.

From there, we quickly moved on to building APIs using Ruby on Rails. Since I’ve started exploring programming, I have been attracted to the Ruby language, and especially the Rails framework. The learning curve is steep when one is learning to think differently and program, but it’s rewarding to learn new things on a daily basis. Just last week, I spent a lot of time reading and trying to implement RSpec tests into one of the APIs. I can’t say that I suffer from “impostor syndrome”, because I truly believe that anyone can learn anything if they are shown or taught in a way they can understand. If I don’t know something, it is simply because I don’t know it, yet! Basically, I can only know what I know.

Almost 3 months into this job, and only really 6 months of programming experience, I can honestly say I have learned a lot and would very much like to continue this path and really master this field, like I mastered my “other career” as a musician. Maybe, one day, the two will converge.

In the meantime, I need to figure out these errors….

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Why I want to be a software engineer

It’s been a while since I’ve written a new post. Wyncode cohort 7 has successfully graduated, and we are currently deep into job search mode. After 9 weeks of intensive 12 + hour days learning how to code, I am absolutely certain I want to become a software developer.

It’s been a whirlwind of constantly learning new concepts, figuring things out, and solving problems. This feeling is very similar to my decade’s worth of experience as a professional musician; the same parts of the brain seem to be stimulated!

This past weekend, a group of us from Wyncode travelled up to Fort Lauderdale to participate in the ITPalooza Mobile App & IoT Hackathon powered by AT&T. We hacked away for 24 hours, with minimal “naps”, and ended up tying for first place at the end of it! That experience, alone, of working together on a team, figuring things out, and creating a tangible app that can be used one day confirmed to me that I can do this, and I really want to continue doing this.

We were even in the Miami Herald !

Coming from a musical background, I get “oh, we should JAM sometime!” or, “can you write me a jingle?” People seem to be fundamentally unaware that, even though it is a creative field, the classical musician’s brain really functions similarly to an engineer’s brain. We analyze the structure of a piece, a lot of repetition is involved (in practicing and perfecting our craft), and we are constantly learning new techniques in order to optimize our experience. It is also important to communicate effectively with an audience. Coding is absolutely the same. We need to effectively communicate with a machine, as well as with other coders who will need to read and understand what we are trying to communicate.

This is just the beginning of my journey, and I hope that luck and experience are on my side as I move forward in this new career. Keep coding!