2017 Wrap-up and 2018 Goals

Wrapping up a year is never a thing one wants to do. At least I don’t.

2017 was an amazing year; I built a full-stack app I was proud of with a course and started another. I was a perfect 12/12 months of blogging for the second year in a row. And, at the end of the year I scored an internship with The Practical Dev.

The beginning of this year has been the total opposite: I am being evicted as my apartment building is renovating and will not be renewing my lease and the shine of the internship has worn off as I struggle to find a place to live and get moved. I’ve made some pretty horrendous errors in the face of all this, after a strong start. I am probably not getting offered. I am okay with it now but wasn’t when I got my 2/3 of the way performance review. I was super depressed for a week or two.

But this is not what I want to talk about. I want to recap the year and look ahead for this one and what I can do after I move to turn things around.

2017 Highs After 2016 Lows

Isn’t it how it always is though?

The Good:

  • I completed a full course on web development without a break. I went through the colossal Web Developer Bootcamp with Colt Steele and built YelpCamp which I am not really developing anymore but am tweaking a bit here and there.
  • I started my own full-stack JavaScript app called Check Yo Self which is still in active development. If I am without a position for a little bit while I get settled into my new place so be it. I’ll continue to work on this app.
  • I got offered the dev.to internship.
  • I gained 300 Twitter followers which opened up a whole new network to me I didn’t have previously. This has been a boon to my job search.
  • I was on the Developer on Fire Podcast. It was super fun talking to Dave Rael again.

The Bad:

  • Couldn’t finish school.
  • That’s it!

Goals for 2018

I am currently looking for positions outside of dev.to. I enjoyed my time there but if I am being honest the way I utterly messed up after they gave me a chance…not even sure if I can look them in the face. I will have to, but it will be hard. Really hard1.

I am not a quitter though so while this is a setback it is a minor one and thanks to my friends and mentors Craig Lang and Pablo Rivera I am not dangling off the edge as much as I was. They’ve been instrumental in lifting my spirits.

Without further ado, goals.

  • Get hired as a junior developer working with a primarily JavaScript stack. Rails is okay as I built a Blog app in it, simple CRUD without auth or limiting certain interactions with certain users2. I’d prefer JavaScript though as I am more familiar with it3.
  • Move to a nicer home. This place is shite. So I am glad I need to move. It is just finding a place within the amount of time I am allotted that is the issue.
  • Stop worrying about vanity metrics for the blog. Pablo explained to me that if I’m not selling anything, looking at my analytics isn’t going to do anything for me. Traffic without a product is all but meaningless.
  • Learn: React, Redux, Angular, Typescript, Vue, Vuex, built-in JavaScript APIs and other JavaScript frameworks. I just bought Wes Bos’s React for Beginners course and am excited to dig into it.
  • Gain another 300 followers.
  • Finish Check Yo Self. I need to find time to work on side projects without burning out.
  • Create some interesting and useful libraries and open source them. This will be interesting considering everything I hear about women getting shut down in open source. We’ll see.
  • Dive more into animations with CSS and WebAnimations API.

There Are Probably More

But I am tired and can’t think of them right now. These are the main things I want to get done this year.


  1. Saying that made me start to cry. I’ve been crying a lot lately. It’s been really hard to know your shot at developing full time is dashed for a bit. I’m down, but not out. 
  2. For instance, anyone can delete a post by any user. Any user can delete a user. It was basically just an exercise for me to show I can navigate around a Rails app and am able to use my theoretical knowledge of OOP and MVC to a real world app. 
  3. I plan on learning other stacks as well. Learning Rails has been a fun experience even though it isn’t my preference. 

First Feature and Pull Request

 

I spent a good week working on our CodePen Liquid Tag feature. It was my first time working with a team on a feature for an app that wasn’t solely mine.

I was nervous. But it was really fun.

Mac, our Senior dev instructed me. He remarked that it didn’t take me long to pick it up and off I went, getting the feature built with time to spare1.

Shortly after, I created my first PR. I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to make a PR on a project I believed in. I got that chance and it went well.

Feature and PR

I find that, since I spent a lot of time learning JavaScript, Mongo, Mongoose, Node and the like, that digging into Ruby, Rails, ActiveRecord, and things like this aren’t too difficult.

One of the things that helped me was when Mac and Ben told me to look at another file. I was able to discern what to do, and cobbled together a basic framework of the feature. I then built upon that and continued to ask Mac questions which he patiently answered.

I submitted the PR and it was merged shortly after.

Yassssssss

I submitted a PR to another project but it wasn’t merged. I wasn’t ready then. But now, I have had two PRs merged and am working on a third feature.

Work Is Fun

The team is great. The perks are great, even for an intern like me. And I absolutely believe in what we’re trying to build.


  1. We don’t have hard deadlines, though, unless it is a critical bug or security flaw. 

The Simplicity of Ruby

When I first started this blog, I was learning Ruby and I loved it.

This was before starting freeCodeCamp or Zed Shaw’s Learn Python the Hard Way series 1.

When I decided I wanted to program for a living, I found some meetups and went to my first one in 2014, Code & Supply where Ruby was the topic; getting it set up on our systems and writing a pretty simple Ruby program.

Ruby was so simple. Take this, for example:

class MyClass
  def initialize(name, age)
    @name = name
    @age = age
  end
end

If you know anything at all about OOP, you know what is happening here.

Where the beauty of Ruby lies is in its eerily easy to read syntax.

class MyClass

creates a class where we’ll hold all our objects and methods.

def: define. Here we are defining a method initialize with two local variables
name and age. We assign them to the instance variables @name and @age in order to use them outside of the object’s scope. We end the method and class with the end keyword.

Outside of the OOP instance variable syntax, this is super easy to read and understand.

First Day Feels

It is 10pm and I really need to get to bed soon. But I just wanted a chance to write about how patient the team at The Practical Dev has been with me as I learn the ropes.

On-boarding was a breeze and I have already started digging into the codebase.

My first day was fraught with nerves and expectations that I had for myself 2.
Remembering that I am not the sole developer on a project and I have a team to refer to is taking some getting used to. The team is great and I definitely ask questions: have never been shy about that. I am just so damn shy and quiet. This is something I am working on.

They even purchased a lower lumbar cushion and keyboard for me, which I can purchase when I move on.

It has been a great first week so far and I am looking forward to the weeks to come.


  1. LPTHW is quite opinionated and I am not sure if it is still recommended to new developers. 
  2. And very little sleep. Trying to fix that. 

I Am Now Doing This Thing For Real

I have recently joined the The Practical Dev as an apprentice software developer.

Remember when I said that good things were happening? That was one of the things.

Ben reached out in a Twitter DM and it kicked off.

I filled out the required application. We had a video conference yesterday and today they made the offer.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be joining the team 1. This transcends just being in tech or having a career.

There is so much I would like to day, to be quite honest. There are some things I can’t or don’t want to explain but.

I have lived a miserable existence, from the day I popped out of my mom’s womb. She was an addict. I was adopted but that drug use left me with some residual side effects.

I spent my youth and teenage years in a very bad state. Emotionally I was a mess. I was a bright kid, a great student. Things came super easy to me. But because of trauma and emotional issues, I couldn’t really go to college after high school. I eventually went as a 24 year old. But, as it was, emotional issues, depression, angst. All that prevented my from being successful.

When I was 22 my grandmother died. She was my rock. She was in my corner, even when I was a little shit. She was there. She protected me.

I was in a place where I could remain safe when I was in my early 20s. I was poor and out of it. She died and I felt like I let her down; I wasn’t much of anything. I was just another listless 20 something black girl from the hood drifting in and out of placements and falling through the cracks. I always felt like I let her down. I couldn’t help it, but the guilt has followed me.

I didn’t start feeling like I had something to live for until I was 28. I had been through hell and back, an emotionally violent relationship, I had been through the ringer. But something came around for me as a 28 year old young woman starting to realize that yeah, life is shit. It really is. But you literally crawled out from the jaws of death and now what are you going to do with your life?

30 Something…

I went back to school when I turned 30. I was a humanities major. I was still pretty poor. Making ends meet was hard.

I went to school, making good grades for a while. I decided that tech was where I wanted to work. As much as I liked to write, I liked tweaking my sites even more. I also knew that I would remain poor as a humanities major because I didn’t want to teach.

I got a Mac in 2014, a code editor, and I was off to the races.

I went to Pitt from 2015-2017 as a CS major. You may remember it.

Starting the University of Pittsburgh

Had a breakdown in the middle of those two years.

I couldn’t go back to school this year and instead dove head first into every project on my GitHub that isn’t for school.

I’ve built some pretty cool things that I am proud of and am working on even more things.

But now I get to do it for real.

Whew

I have not been eating much. That is how bad it has gotten for me. I am not complaining though. I have good friends and family. They have helped me through the rough times I have been having. I have been really coding for my life, not just for a cushy job. It means so much more to me because of that.

I have been searching for a couple months now. I was using a little Chrome extension called Streak CRM to track the process. Rejections would come in. Now, I have a CRM with an offer that I accepted.

Mom

My mom is 71. She told me she would like to stick around long enough to see me be something. She qualified that with, “Well, you are already something but. Still. You know.”

I knew what she meant. We haven’t always been on good terms. But I love her and I, too, wanted her to see this. I didn’t want another regret of letting another important woman to me see me floundering.

I bought my mom a little something from Amazon and added a note and gift bag that said:

“Mom, I did it. From now on Xmas for you will be special. I’m grateful for your support. Love you. Tiffany”

Makes me feel good.

Thanks, Ben and Peter

I mean, really. You two have taken a chance on an old lady who doesn’t have a degree but has a fire in her belly to actually learn and grow as a developer. I can’t thank you two enough. Truly. Thank you.

Well

Everyone has a story. I am glad mine is ending up like this. I hope for happiness and success for anyone who is on the outside looking in in tech. You got this. ???


  1. I am old. I am the oldest person on the team. Haha. I am young at heart though. Goes to show someone pushing 40 can break into the industry if they work their asses off.