My days of coding in its most elementary form started when I was around 9 or 10, when I first discovered HTML and how it could be used to create web pages much like the ones I interacted with daily. I created a Freewebs account (remember that? I believe it now goes by Webs) and made an About Me page with an accompanying cartoon polar bear image. During my teenage years, I ran with the little HTML and CSS knowledge I hacked together to spruce up my web presence scattered across multiple social networks and helped my friends edit their Myspace or Tumblr themes as well.
Back then, there was very little information or tutorials compared to now, and what did exist seemed so convoluted or irrelevant I wasn’t sure where to begin. So while I used other people’s CSS themes or layouts to dress up my Livejournal or Tumblr and learned my way around editing hex codes and other properties to make it look how I wanted, the thought of making my own themes from scratch (or building an entire website, not a page) was daunting and seemed nearly impossible. When mobile web and apps got big, those were even bigger behemoths that were both awe-inspiring yet so very out-of-reach.
When I got to college, becoming a developer was still a budding dream. I had taken AP Computer Science in high school and thanks to an incredible teacher, learned my way around Java pretty easily. I decided to take the intro CS course at Berkeley, but was soon overwhelmed by the fast pace and workload. In retrospect, it was a class I could have succeeded in but I didn’t know yet that one of the most crucial aspects in learning to code is asking questions to instructors or TAs and coding together with classmates. I was suffering trying to learn by myself and hadn’t used my resources. I was sufficiently discouraged and after that semester, I didn’t approach another CS class despite my growing interest.
Throughout college and into graduation, I stayed interested in the web and took various web production jobs, whether at nonprofits or magazines. Upon graduation I began working at Moda Operandi, quickly transitioning into an email marketing role where I used my HTML & CSS coding skills to build daily emails. There I first learned about responsive designs built for different screen widths and got more comfortable coding within the limits of email (e.g. lots of tables and inline CSS to account for different email clients’ rules). I came to really enjoy testing across different clients and troubleshooting code to make the appearance seamless for all subscribers.
Throughout the 10+ years I’ve dabbled in coding, the driving force behind my desire to code has been about the ability to create. Similar to writing or drawing, coding gives one the power to make ideas into a tangible reality. It is a tool that anyone can and should learn how to utilize to make their dream phone app, website, or even simple automation tools that simplify one’s workflow. Learning to code started from simply wanting to create a web page about myself and then evolved into wanting to design my blogs in a unique way to differentiate it from standard templates. Now, my desire to learn how to code stems from wanting to be an inventor, either for myself and the various ideas I want to execute or for clients needing design or functionality solutions for their websites.
Another big influence on why I wanted to code comes more recently while working at my job. Fixing and optimizing emails to better engage subscribers is very satisfying, and I would love to take that a step further and learn to optimize functionality and add useful features to our website. I can relate to all of our customers’ frustrations about our product and would love to have the ability to help fix bugs and build features that would ease their experience. Whether that be for work, for outside clients or for myself, optimizing the user experience for web products that people interact with daily is a huge reason for why I want to code.
My road to code for the past 10+ years has been quite convoluted, but my desire to create products and fix problems has not wavered. I am so excited to take a leap and learn the MEAN stack at Fullstack - by the end of six months I aim to have various projects under my belt that I’ve created from scratch and hone my ability to think like a hacker. That being said, I know Fullstack won’t be the end of the road to code: this is just the beginning!