Career Mentor for New Developers
Founder & CTO of Pick My Brain | Web Developer | Bootcamp Instructor | Elaborate Planner | Student of Rhetoric and Logic | Player of Trumpets | Vegetarian | Alex Trebek Wannabe | Intramural All-Star | Bokononist | Enjoyer of Puzzles Riddles & Board Games | Packers Fan | Survivor Fan (the TV show - yes it’s still on and yes it’s the ultimate strategy game)
I spend the majority of my time building and maintaining Pick My Brain. Additionally I teach at CodeCore a web development bootcamp based in Vancouver, BC, as well as provide mentorship and career services to the students there.
Lets talk all things web-development: your learning strategy, building your own projects/startup, landing your first or second job, what to look for in a job, how to get the most out of a bootcamp or other web-dev program, useful resources etc.
There are seemingly infinite ways to become exposed to web development these days, but becoming an effective web developer is often less clear or at least something that requires some outside knowledge. Learning the ‘whys’ behind what you’re doing, figuring out how to land a job and how to ensure you’re actually growing in that job, picking up best practices rather than just endlessly sewing together Stack Overflow answers, these things are harder to pick up without outside help.
I’ve spent the last few years building my own startup, teaching and mentoring students at a web development bootcamp, and immersing myself in this industry. As such, I’d love to help you with these kinds of leveling up that aren’t as easily available independently.
I’m probably most useful to you if you’re at an earlier point in your career, either just entering or completing a bootcamp or other web development program or early in your first job in the industry. That said, I’m happy to help any and all from inside and outside the industry.
I’ve worked with hundreds of bootcamp graduates to help them find their first job. I’m also still fairly well connected to employers and developers who have been in the job market for years. As a result I’m always picking up new insights into what works and what doesn’t. In some local cases, I may also be able to make an introduction/referral to a specific company as well.
Teaching at CodeCore College (the full stack web development bootcamp program) is my main side job and is an incredibly rewarding piece of who I am. First of all it keeps my fundamentals sharp as a developer. I work to make sure I can always answer my students’ questions, and they still constantly push me to dive deeper into why things are done a certain way. Also, helping people build up the skills required to be a competent developer is a blast, because web development has very tangible, trackable results in that you literally get to immediately see what you've built on your computer in front of you. Lastly, helping my students figure out where they want to direct those skills and seeing them start to flourish in an actual new career is incredibly validating and has resulted in some awesome connections and friendships as well.
I also do a ton of 1-on-1 work with my students, from working through specific coding problems, to helping them prepare for interviews, to being a glorified therapist and talking through the uncertainty and doubt they constantly face, the imposter syndrome they inevitably feel, and the seemingly endless possible paths to follow/things to learn within this one particular field.
I’ll use the rest of my portfolio section here to talk through a few of those very real issues that I help new, and even veteran web developers push through.
Peaks and Valleys
I regularly describe my day to day programming internal voice as:
“I’m an Idiot”
“I’m an Idiot”
“I’m an Idiot”
“I’m a genius”
And then after soaking in your genius for a few minutes, it’s onto feeling like an idiot again with the next task or bug. Whether it’s solving a specific problem, or learning a new language, framework, or tool, being a developer is filled with those peaks and valleys on the road to ‘success’. You have to learn to love the ‘feel like an idiot’ valleys because that is where you really improve. I certainly do most of my growing as a developer in those moments. Which is good, because I spend a lot of time there! And that’s ok.
I primarily work with new developers coming out of a bootcamp program, but imposter syndrome or just generally feeling like you don’t belong in the technical world is a problem that persists throughout a developer’s entire career. There is SO much to learn, and developer’s are often so deep in their own work, or working on something so specific, that hearing them talk about it can make you feel like a complete outsider. But the world of web development, and expanding out to programming in general, is just so massive. There is way too much to truly be an expert in everything. And no one is. All developers are constantly doing the same level of Googling you are. They might be Googling more advanced things, or different things, but there is a lot you can do in terms of attitude and action to push down the inevitable imposter syndrome you will face as a new developer.
Watch out for Bias and Overgeneralizing
That said, especially as a new developer, be a sponge to senior developers. Programmers arguably rely on Google more than any other career on the planet, but the fastest way to grow is to soak up the knowledge of other people in the industry. It’s easy to feel insecure (imposter syndrome, ‘I’m an idiot’ moments) and choose to isolate or not share your code, or your projects in general. But programming is a lonely enough profession, find a way to use and learn from your industry colleagues.
Seriously Don’t Isolate
The world of web development is too big to learn on your own, and inevitably you’ll end up out of your wheelhouse. The worst thing you can do is try to bullshit your way through life as a programmer. Check your ego at the door and try and become a sponge!
The picture here is a cheap representation of an oversimplified picture, but it is a very real thing that developers often aren't the best at communicating with other humans. You can be the best developer on the planet, if you can't explain your code and ideas in general you will not be a valuable team member. You don't need to become an extrovert, but there's a lot you can do to improve your communication skills in the web development field. And it makes a huge difference for yourself and those you work with.
This has always been my favourite web related comic. A lot of what I mentioned above talks through serious issues and the mental and human-to-human struggles that developers face. Make sure your work is still fun for you regardless! I mean sometimes you’re going to spend 2 hours trying to get a button to show up in the right spot on the page. That’s not fun. But if you can’t laugh about it after then you’re maybe not approaching things the right way!