Back into the Java Virtual Machine

I have about a month left of the fall semester. I am doing better than the previous two, though I’d like to boost my grade in InfoSci up to at least a B. Stupid study mistakes on my part led to a C on the midterm— being sure you know something and actually knowing it are two different things. Even if you go over it a million times, it doesn’t hurt to study it again.

As far as Web Dev class? I have an A. I am scoring As on just about everything I touch in that class. This semester, I should have around a 3.0+. Not what I wanted, but it will do.

Next Semester

Next semester I will be taking Intermediate Web Development. I am excited for this. We get to dive deeper into building things programmatically instead of fooling around mainly on the front-end with HTML and CSS. We will also be digging into databases.

I am also going to take CS 0401 again. This is an Intermediate Programming class using Java. I took it in the spring but had a nervous breakdown and stopped in the middle. So it is back into the Java virtual machine

I have been thinking about this class a lot lately. So I went back to our old repo and looked at our first assignment, which I struggled with terribly. And you know something? It was super easy. I don’t know if it was my emotional state, getting the F on the final project in Intro class the previous fall or what, but wow. How did I not know any of this?

Granted, I am a better programmer now. But. It just gives me confidence going forward. In case you’re curious, here is what we had to do.


Pretty simple Java stuff, no?

Recruiting News

I have some news on recruiting I’d like to share.

We can all agree: recruiters suck.

Whenever you mention recruiters in Slack channels, there is a collective ugh. That is usually followed by, I hate recruiters.

And if you take a look at articles from insiders, you see there is a real problem.

I Hit the Recruiting Jackpot

I noticed on the Holy Grail of tech recruiting vehicles, LinkedIn, that I got a message from a recruiter.

She was young, black,1 and spoke to me as if they were truly interested in getting to know me. I could tell something was different about this. It wasn’t the same as the other recruiters who message me.

It was odd to me that she wanted to know if we could chat and what time would be best. I told her 3 PM the following day. No call. I was beginning to think it was a quota fill after all.

That Friday. she messaged me, a day after she was supposed to call me and asked if we could talk that day. Another feather in her cap. And she actually called me.

I was super nervous and began stammering, like I do when I am nervous. Need to work and soon. I may not be able to finish Pitt because of dwindling aid. The sooner I can work the better.

We talked for about 25 minutes. She asked what I was interested in, going corporate or working for a tech company. Then she asked what I was looking at as far as compensation.


Let’s talk about compensation as a side note. I grew up poor. Still kinda poor. So when she asked me about compensation, I wanted to really low-ball it. Would like a damn salary above what I am currently making. But I didn’t. I said between 60k-70k. Figured that’s what juniors get in Pittsburgh.

There was a job working for a local medical system/hospital here and the salary was really competitive and around what I was asking. Said she didn’t think I would like it. She told me that is was 20% programming and 80% learning their medical system. 2 I’d also be locked into a contract. With that kind of thing, depending on how long I worked there, I wouldn’t be growing my skills. I’d be known as a medical systems developer, essentially.

I didn’t let her finish when she said 20% programming and lock-in . I said, No right then and there.

The Finish

Finally, she asked me to shoot her my resume. I told her she wasn’t like other recruiters; it was weird. Her company’s philosophy sounded interesting, just what I want. We may even meet. She asked me if I had a problem driving through the Squirrel Hill tunnels or any other things I may not want to do during travel. I was shocked.

I sent her my resume. We will talk on Tuesday.

Not certain what I did to get this kind of treatment. And I can’t tell you how lucky I am to have this happen right at the end of my Pitt career, if it comes to that.

  1. Black and female, considering I am black and female, is a bonus. I think this company did their homework. ↩︎
  2. Am I developer or a medical assistant? ↩︎

Resolved to Be Better



I am really excited to be going back to school. I wouldn’t have said that a couple months ago but I really mean it.

I am getting emails almost daily now that the school year is about to start and it gives me a warm feeling, like I belong to part of a community. The Pitt staff are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and are genuinely helpful.

I got my appeals approved and so this semester is just a confidence building semester. When I stepped foot on campus for the first time last fall, I was super excited and confident. I may have been about to break emotionally, but I was feeling good about Computer Science and my chances of success. I wasn’t wrong.

I did extremely well. The mini-quizzes I studied for I did really well in. The ones I didn’t I did fair in; could have done better. The projects started out easy and then got harder but I was still maintaining a B average. For my first CS class no less!

Then, the final project.

It was hard. Not impossible, but hard. Implementing algorithms was completely new to me and I was also working on algorithms for Free Code Camp. They baffled me. Divide and Conquer, what? Object-Oriented Programming what?

I became paralyzed with fear. And I choked. I didn’t finish and even though she was giving out generous curves I failed. I didn’t implement anything correctly. I could have gotten a C with a half-finished project. I got a fat F.

Spring Semester and Too Much Crap

I was starting to buckle under the weight of my failure in CS- I got a C but I was demoralized. My depression and other things were starting to grip me. I went into CS 0401 full of fear. Some of the assignments weren’t hard but I overthought all of them. The pressure crushed me.

I had the podcast, which editing took hours, I had this blog, Programming in Progress, That Mac Nerd, Free Code Camp, Treehouse, and so much other stuff on the side. I buckled under the weight of all of it. I had a pretty bad nervous breakdown. I quit school. Anxiety was too much. I wasn’t leaving my apartment, not even to take out the garbage. It was very, very bleak. I lost my mentor in the process.

New Beginnings

So, this time around I have a plan. Podcast has folded. I don’t have the time to edit it, or the money to have it professionally edited.

No Free Code Camp during the year, or at least until summer and winter break. This blog, That Mac Nerd, and Programming in Progress will be written for but less that usual (though lately the blogging has slowed down as I work on more projects and learn more things). Steel City Maker will have to wait until summer.

Also, as I wrote before on a post about tracking your learning with Trello, I have made a couple public Trello boards for my schooling. They are accessible to anyone, and I want it that way. I want a way to stay accountable. I am putting myself out there for scrutiny and, to some extent, help. I will post my grades, resources I am using, etc in order to track how and how well I am grokking the stuff I am learning.

Here are my Computer Science Mastery (B.Sc)


and Mathematics Mastery



Let’s Get It

As all the meatheads I know say. I say it too, especially when I am tired and am headed to the gym. Which is something all of us could stand doing, or walking. I find that a little bit of exercise has the power to lift my mood like nothing else. So, get out there. Learn. Walk. Be the best you can. I am trying my hand at this again and this time I won’t fail.