I Cried After Completing my Nanodegree And It Was Worth It—My Udacity Journey

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The Start of the Journey

It’s hard to think that almost a year ago I was applying for a Nanodegree. I was not on the hunt for scholarships or looking to enroll in a bootcamp or nanodegree. I saw the opportunity on social media and almost did not apply. Afterall, I thought, I knew how to code—I had been learning to code for years! I was mostly self-taught but I was employed as an email developer. There were people with similar backgrounds as me who were struggling to find something—anything—in tech. I thought that I didn’t deserve the scholarship and this was before I even applied!

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I owed it to myself to apply. There is no good in self-selecting. After thinking about it for a few days, I took a chance and drafted an application.

The Office | You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Michael Scott (Wayne Gretzky)
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Michael Scott (Wayne Gretzky)

Since I had a background in front-end development, I took a chance and applied for the Mobile Web Specialist track. It looked like it could be challenging, but I was excited about the idea of learning dynamic front-end languages. I did not come into the scholarship with a goal except to do my best to learn from the experience. If I made it to the second phase—the full Nanodegree—amazing! If not, at least I did not self-select and would walk away knowing more about mobile web technologies than I had before.

In early January, two months after applying, I got an email. My application had been accepted! I was one of 50,000 people who had been selected for the Grow with Google scholarship. I told everyone—including my Mom. To say that I was excited was an understatement.

What Was Accomplished Along the Way

Since completing the Nanodegree, a few people have asked about my experiences in the program. I was honest. The program was more difficult than I expected. Coming into it, I knew enough Javascript to be dangerous, but ES6 was a whole new world. I had never heard of promises outside of elementary school secrets and I certainly did not know Javascript classes existed. As I worked through the course material and learned new concepts I realized there was way more to coding for the web than I realized.

Service workers? Nope. Never heard of them. IndexedDB? A database inside of the browser? No way! Lighthouse audits? Cool! I had used Chrome for years and didn’t know that tool existed just a few clicks away.

The learning curve to all those new concepts was one of my biggest hurdles. With HTML & CSS when I run into an issue, I could troubleshoot it relatively quickly. With the coursework, especially service worker, IndexdDB and promises, I was completely out of my element. Taking a break from the course material helped me to get through those hurdles. From reading Jon Duckett’s Javascript book while in jury duty or streaming Javascript videos on Youtube, I learned that it was 100% ok to look at external resources. As long as you get the concepts and can work through the problems, you are on the right track.

Web Design Books by Greg Rokozy | https://unsplash.com/photos/vw3Ahg4x1tY
Web Design Books by Greg Rokozy

My challenges with ES6 and promises meant I often got stuck when trying to add new functionality. It comes with being a developer. To be a good developer, you need to learn how to ask good questions so that you can get unstuck. You need to know how to articulate what is happening in your code, what you are expecting to happen and what you have tried so far. It helped to build my confidence in the course material to know that yes, I tried A, B, and C, but I still get XYZ error when I was expecting something else.

Doing this, also made it easier to get help from other scholarship recipients who could help to guide me to a working solution. Concepts like passing parameters between function finally clicked after talking it through with another scholarship recipient. When I finally worked through a concept, I was exhilarated! It gave me to push to keep going. If I could figure out that one bug from the day before, I can get through the project.

Reflection on your Journey

Now that I’ve completed the Nanodegree, I feel amazing!

I’m not going to lie. I cried when I saw my certification of completion. It represented over 9 months of new concepts, frustration and feeling like I would never be a real developer. But I did! This certificate and the projects that I worked on during this course help to prove that. I am a developer. Period.

Looking back, I learned a lot but also that there’s so much more to learn—that I’m ready to learn. My experience in this course has shown me I’m on the right track with learning Javascript, with React being the next item on my learning list. I also feel more confident in my technical skills now that I survived—heck, crushed—the selection process and course material. I am confident that I can jump into trying new things—I’m looking at you Python!—and be ok in the end.

The One About Twitter Tech Chats

Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

I enjoy participating in Twitter Chats.

Sometimes, I forget when my faves are, or, forget to flag new ones to check out later.

So, to help keep them all in one place (and to discover more) I created a Twitter Tech Chat repo on Github with a list of some of the tech-related Twitter chats on my radar.

This repo will evolve over time, but for now, it works.

If there’s a tech chat you regularly tune into that’s not on the list, open a pull request and get it added.


Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

Talk: What I’ve learned as an Email Developer

Thanks for tuning into my talk, What I’ve learned as an Email Developer during the Moms Can Code Virtual Summit!

Here are links to the resources mentioned during my talk.

Resources

Email Design on Pinterest – A sample of some beautifully designed emails

Really Good Emails – A collection of hand-picked email designs and resources

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – Informative site about GDPR

CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business – An overview of the CAN-SPAM guidelines for businesses

A Snapshot of an Email Team – A breakdown of demographics of email teams, according to a survey by Litmus

Creating your own Gulp Based Email Workflow System – Story of how Tori, an email developer, created her own email workflow system

What’s Goop – Launched in the fall of 2008, GOOP was originally conceived as a weekly email sent from Gwyneth Paltrow’s kitchen

Email Testing – Email on Acid email testing

The Ultimate Guide to CSS – In-depth list of which CSS features are supported in which email clients

CSS Inliner Tool – Mailchimp tool for inlining CSS for emails

#emailgeeks on Slack – A Slack community where email marketers, designers, and developers meet to talk shop

Email Client Market Share – Email client usage worldwide, collected from 1.03 billion email opens.

Litmus Year in Review – 2017 stats from Litmus

13 Email A/B Testing Mistakes that Limit Your Success – Tips to ensure you are getting the most out of your email A/B testing

Follow me on Twitter. I tweet about email development, tech and reaction gifs

Talk: What I Learned From Managing My First Open Source Project on Github

Update: Links to my presentation slides are now available for download


It’s hard to believe that Codeland is only a few days away!

via GIPHY

Here, you’ll find some resources and links related to my talk, What I Learned From Managing My First Open Source Project on Github. The conference will be recorded so check back later for slides and video links.

Project Files

How Many Days Until Halloween? – The project that started it all! Not sure how many days until the spookiest day of the year? No worries, this webpage will do the counting for you.

Fork the project files on Github – Peak behind the code and see firsthand how this project evolved over time. Contributions are always welcome!

Presentation Slides [6.5 MB] – A PDF of my presentation slides can be downloaded here.

If you are attending Codeland, these links can also be found in the conference booklet

What I Learned From Managing My First Open Source Project on Github
What I Learned From Managing My First Open Source Project on Github, Codeland 2018

Resources

  • Bootstrap – Bootstrap is an open source toolkit for developing with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • GitHub Glossary – A list of common Git and GitHub specific terms
  • GitHub Guides – Short guides or tutorials covering various GitHub topics and features
  • Hacktoberfest – Hacktoberfest is a month-long celebration of open source software
  • Open Source Guides – An extensive collection of resources for individuals, communities, and companies who want to learn how to run and contribute to an open source project
  • Open Source Survey – The Open Source Survey is an open data project by GitHub and collaborators from academia, industry, and the broader open source community

Terms

  • Conflict – Competing differences between code files
  • Git – A free and open source distributed version control system
  • GitHub – Git repository hosting service and community
  • Markdown – Markdown is a plain text markup language
  • Open Source – Open source software is software that can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone.
  • Squash – Combining several commits into one

See you at the Conference!


Photo by Shannon Crabill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It’s Official! I’ll be Speaking at Codeland!

Photo by Matteo Catanese on Unsplash

It’s official! I will be speaking at Codeland in 2018! I’ll be speaking about my experiences in open source and I couldn’t be more excited!

For those who do not know, Codeland is an “interactive, two-day conference filled with talks, panels, and workshops with the most supportive community of programmers and people learning to code.” It is produced by CodeNewbie which is “the most supportive community of programmers
and people learning to code.” CodeNewbie also hosts a popular podcast and weekly Twitter chat.

Codeland is May 4 & 5, 2018 in New York City. Tickets can be purchased here while supplies last!