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  • I Left My Heart in Siberia
    by Valarie Regas on December 30, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    In March of 2018, I gave my first short talk at a technical event. It was five minutes, and I prepared obsessively for it. At first, speaking was supposed to be a way to network and find work. As it turns out, it was fun! I realized I want to be an Evangelist, after learning such a role existed. I want to travel the world spreading the good news about my company and our product. I want to make my living studying, researching, and figuring out how my company’s product integrates into the larger tech exosphere, and share that with the tech community. I want to preach from the rooftops about problems we’ve solved! Honing my skills as a speaker — June 2018As far as I could tell, the best way to get to an Evangelist role was to start…. evangelizing. My current company does not have an evangelist, and I am not paid to do so, and yet I have been evangelizing for them since July 2018. While at the first conference I attended as a speaker, for which my company partially paid for my attendance, I met a representative from a company who had already seen and dismissed our product a year previously. He felt we could not help his business. I’m not a salesperson, mind you; I had little interest in his money. But I am passionate about the incredible product crafted by my development team. So I evangelized! His company ended up signing a contract for work with us. I’ve rarely felt so satisfied in my work as when I learned that fact. Speaking at Devnexus 2019, barefoot and pregnant.As I quickly noticed, being an Evangelist rarely just happens by chance. The standard routes I’ve heard from those successfully in the role seem to all include: conference speaking, blog posting, networking, and standing out as a subject matter expert in an area or two. So I started creating goals to help me move towards these things, particularly in the arena of speaking. One of my main 2019 goals was to speak internationally. I was asked to speak at two international conferences over the course of 2019, but only accepted one. The first, while I’d have given anything to attend, occurred while I was at the end of pregnancy. I did not fancy the idea of giving birth in a foreign country, having to get a newborn home without a passport, etc. This little bundle was worth missing a conference or two ❤And so it was that Google Developer Group’s DevFest Siberia 2019 became the first non-US conference to which I was invited, and that I accepted. Little did I realize, as I happily accepted the invitation, how attending said event would change my view on so many things in this world of conferences. From the first contact with the organizers, I realized this event would be different than any I had attended. Instead of sending me an email stating either acceptance or rejection, Leo reached out to have a call and learn more about my proposed talk for his event. He asked questions, gave feedback, and was genuinely kind. At the end of the call, I was accepted. From that point forward I felt completely supported as a speaker. From my travel, to assistance acquiring the necessary visa, to planning for the event, the organizers were there for me. Little touches, like being greeted at baggage claim with this sign, made all the difference.The trip itself was wonderful. I was afforded the opportunity to spend an extended layover in Moscow as I traveled, and I found the old city delightful. I took regrettably few pictures, as I was too busy taking in the majesty of buildings older than my country. When I travel abroad, my favorite activities have always been the times I was able to visit with residents in their homes or places of work; to see how normal folks actually live in a different place. To that end, I stopped by our Moscow office. I was treated to espresso, conversation, and a deeper understanding that we’re all the same in this world, in a basic way. Then I was off to Siberia. 26 hours of travel later, I got to see just a wee bit of Moscow. This is the only picture I thought to take.The moment I set foot in Novosibirsk, and the conference organizers were at the airport to greet me, it felt a bit like “coming home.” Dora, Leo’s partner in life and conferences, immediately made an impression as being someone I could speak with for weeks, and still only barely scratch the surface of how amazing she is as a person. Every speaker I met from that point forward felt similarly endearing. I was asked to speak on a panel about workplace culture internationally. The other panelists were incredible, and it was a little intimidating, but the crowd got my jokes and gave great feedback, so calling it a win.Days were spent enjoying sessions, chatting with attendees, and eating delicious foods. Evenings were spent pondering existence, sharing stories, and getting to know the other speakers, mostly over more food, as well as copious amounts of alcohol. Fortunately, my liver has been training for such events for some time. My first borscht, courtesy of the Park Wood Hotel’s Romanov Restaurant.I did my best to represent my country; to be an example of what Americans can be. I studied local customs. I took small gifts to hand out to show my gratitude. I was willing to try new things. Some of the more memorable experiments while in country were my first bites of both horse jerky (amazing!) and also beef tongue (excellent flavor, but that texture tho 😬). Pelmeni, or dumplings, were central to my diet. The elk pelmeni were superb! As a welcome gift from Dora, I was treated to a shot of horseradish vodka. I can’t wait to never, ever, do that again. GUSI brought their “A Game” with the mixed meat platter.My absolute favorite new experience, however, was the banya. Russian saunas are a place for friends to commune, bodies to relax, and souls to recharge. I was nervous to go; folks at home can be harsh about bodies, and I have just given birth to my third baby. No one in Novosibirsk cared. Not even remotely. I will never forget the first thing said to me upon getting into my suit and heading into the main common space: another speaker, a wonderful soul named Oleg, saw me. His face lit up as he exclaimed “Valarie! I’m so glad you made it!” I felt welcomed, accepted, and like a part of the DevFest Siberia “family.” My actual session was fantastic! I had feared my sense of humor wouldn’t land well for folks who learned English as an extra language. I prepped for a few weeks before, trying to talk through chunks of the talk without using slang, without quoting niche American movies, and without randomly breaking into song. I felt prepared. However, come time to deliver my session, the record reflects partial failure. Once adrenaline set in, my mind reverted to my usual manner of speaking. Fortunately, the crowd enjoyed my humor and quirkiness! We shared nigh constant laughs and my love of kubernetes. Automation makes my heat go pitter-patter.The feedback I received warmed my heart. The attendees were eager to interact, ask questions, and share their perspectives. The random conversations had between sessions were amazing! To a one, the folks I met who chose to attend this event were delightful. As I reflect on the caliber of humans I met, I can’t help but think “like attracts like.” It speaks volumes to me about the organizers, and Google Developers Group Novosibirsk in general, to have attracted so many incredible people to their event. It had been years since last I sat foot outside of the US. I’d forgotten how much I love travel; meeting new people, and learning from them, is perhaps the greatest experience one can have. Well, with ones clothes on anyway. The travel bug has once again bitten me, and I am already planning more international events. I can only hope they’re as magical as was DevFest Siberia! The Airbus office in Moscow is forever endeared to me with this thoughtful gift!

  • Working With Trauma
    by Valarie Regas on February 14, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    I grew up watching movies like 9 to 5, Working Girl, and Baby Boom. Such stories taught young Valarie a great deal about her future. Yes, it would be difficult (and men would make it more so). But with enough grit, and enough determination, I would overcome! Even if I had to take an executive or two hostage for a time and run the company in their (his) stead, I could do it. Desperate times and all of that….We’ll gloss over the fact that I was able to see my future in those nice white lady faces because of my privilege. Hollywood has never provided adequate role models for people of color, but especially women of color. That’s a post for another day. Also, I love Dolly Parton, y’all. Back to the point…. I got my first job at 14, teaching judo to wee kidlets. Over the years, I’ve held so many jobs it is almost comical. It wasn’t until I found software development at the age of 34- automation and deployments specifically- when I finally found a career I could love forever. And much to my surprise, it hasn’t been nearly the in-your-face ordeal I remember from the films of my formative years! My engineering manager is a joy, being nothing like the horrible bosses of yesteryear. He is patient, kind, and the first to draw attention to his team for things they do well. He is the kind of person who makes you want to do and be just a little better than you are. This is why I struggled to tell him about… me. I live with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or CPTSD, with which I wasn’t diagnosed until the summer of 2017. Before then I simply thought I was quirky, odd, depressed, paranoid, or just plain crazy. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t know. I earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology, for fuck’s sake. I may be the only person in the history of psych degrees to not diagnose themselves with a million disorders. Young Valarie didn’t see CPTSD coming.CPTSD is a fascinating condition. The result of multiple traumas over many years, particularly in childhood, we who live with it have some peculiar needs, habits, and behaviors. Many have written articles about things they wish others understood about the way our minds and bodies work. In particular, we wish our employers knew how hard we have to work just to exist in the office. And how has CPTSD impacted me working in my dream job? Myriad ways. First, there is the depression. My mind is a total douche bag sometimes, betraying the way I want to feel with the way it makes me feel. There are moments where I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I ought to be feeling joy… and yet, I feel nothing. Or worse, I feel hopelessness and a crushing sense that I shouldn’t enjoy the source of would-be joy because it will only be taken away from me when I least expect it. Depression feels like a dementor; all hope has left the world, and only an emptiness remains. When I am at my worst, just taking a shower and heating up food feels like my own personal Everest. Even so, I have to make an appearance in the office each day; showered, dressed, and smiling if possible. I have to wear a happy mask for meetings. It is exhausting to put forth every last bit of emotional effort in my body while in the office. But I do it. I love my officemates; I don’t want them to be miserable just because I am. Then there is the hypervigilance. My mind rarely allows me to forget that the world is inherently dangerous, and I am an inch away from attack at all times. I will do most anything to avoid having my back to people, even at work. For a time, I was given a cubicle in front of two of my coworkers’ cubicles. Rationally, I felt confident that neither of those gentlemen intended me harm. They’re swell dudes. But my brain wouldn’t accept that they were safe. After all, I thought most of the men who have attacked me over the years were swell… until they weren’t. My coworkers, when desks were reordered, were fine with me taking the far back corner unit. I wonder if they truly understand how much that meant to me. Hypervigilance comes with a hefty physical price tag as well as a mental toll. Spending the entire day tense and on alert leaves me sore and spent by the end of the day. My commute makes it worse. Since my most recent car accident in 2017, I have issues driving for more than a short distance. Every car I pass, every car I see swerve a little, every car who hits their breaks makes my body go through what an accident involving that car would feel like in the moment. On a 20-minute commute in Atlanta, my body is likely to trick itself into thinking it has experienced a car accident, maybe two. My body hurts a lot of mornings when I get to the office. It is a fact of life. And sleep! Oh, sleep, that elusive and cruel mistress. Like so many others with CPTSD, sleep and I have a rough relationship. Late at night, sober Valarie lies in bed with racing thoughts she can’t dismiss unless she turns to wine to shut them up. Then there is the early waking insomnia. Let’s say I get to sleep at a reasonable time. Come 4am, SURPRISE! Sometimes it is a nightmare that wakes me, or a memory. Either way, my partner has had to accept that he will sometimes wake up in pitch black and feel me shaking next to him. He doesn’t even ask why anymore; the answer, if I even know it, doesn’t really matter. There is a reason sleep deprivation features prominently in every how-to book for would-be torturers: neither the mind nor body is of much use without sleep. And yet, I get up every day and go into the office, exhausted. I try to smile. I try my best to pretend I wouldn’t lay down and nap on a moment’s notice if only I could. I try to do my work as best I can, living with this level of never-ending fatigue. I celebrate everything I accomplish no matter how seemingly insignificant, because I know how much effort went into each task. This is the mask we wear. You wouldn’t believe what I had been doing that day, or the anguish I was feeling. I was expected to attend a lunch with my partner’s family, so I smiled through it.CPTSD has me forever waiting for the proverbial rug to be pulled out from under me in some way. Life has taught me that all good things will be ripped away from me when I least expect it. In my personal life, this looks like involuntarily crying if a relative from whom I rarely hear calls me; my mind assumes they are calling to tell me someone has died. At work, this causes constant anxiety that I am going to be let go. I began my first role in technology as a 10-week internship. Just a few weeks into my tenure as an intern, our recruiter asked to speak to me privately. The tears came immediately. As I followed her to a room, my mind raced trying to figure out what I had done wrong, and why I was being fired. I couldn’t think of anything, but still, I internally berated myself for whatever it was. When she told me she’d asked to speak to me alone because she was extending the offer of a permanent position at the company, the water works really kicked in. The wave of relief was palpable! But even knowing I am fine, that I am working, and that I am learning: I live with daily dread. I finally had to ask my manager to give me both positive and constructive feedback as often as he remembers to do so. I explained that I am wired to believe good things get taken away. He seemed to understand. He chuckled a little, but took the time to go through the process it would take to fire me. His willingness to lay out all the steps that would have to happen, so my stressed mind could look for evidence rather than rely on fear to guide it, has made a world of difference in my ability to do my job. There are myriad symptoms of CPTSD, and we each have a different selection from that shit show of a buffet. But for me, in the context of working in an office, the worst one is wondering if anyone around me knows. Do they know that when I go home I crumple into a shell of myself as soon as my kids are asleep, because whatever mental and/or physical energy I had is depleted? Do they know the number of times I have sat in meetings, nodding at appropriate intervals, but in my mind I am fighting intrusive thoughts and trying not to cry… again? Do they know that as much as I like them, I wonder which of them might eventually cause me harm? I guess the simple answer to the question of them knowing is: they do now. You might be wondering, given my discomfort at the idea of everyone knowing, why I would share my story. Hell. I am sort of wondering the same thing right now. In a basic way, I refuse to be ashamed of my past, my trauma history, or of who I am as a person because of those things. In a recent recording session for my podcast, the CodePrep Podcast, I came out about my CPTSD during an episode concerning mental health and the workplace. It was scary to speak fairly openly, knowing some folks I know would hear it eventually. But at the same time, I know that someone who needs to hear it will also hear it- someone else who is struggling with CPTSD. The thing that makes this bearable is the knowledge that my hurts have made me uniquely capable of helping others who have been hurt. I feel kindred with Wade Wilson (Deadpool) in so many ways; he’s scarred and damaged, so he hides behind a facade. But the thing that led to him being mangled is also what made him a superhero. I feel you, Wade. The times I have been able to help others because I know what trauma looks like and can reach out. The times I realized I am more than capable of handling a rough situation, because I have lived through horrific events and am still here thriving. The times someone felt comfortable discussing their trauma because I casually mentioned mine. Those are the times that almost make my past worth it. Those are the times I feel more like a hero than a victim. Those are the times I feel confident that, when the end comes, it will be me, Cher, and cockroaches who survive the fallout… because I always find a way to survive, and then thrive, if only out of spite. So… here I am, in all my vulnerable glory. Sitting in my cube, taking a break from the frustrations of selecting a site monitoring solution, reflecting on how CPTSD impacts me in the workplace. I am thankful to work where I do. Thankful for a manager who is nothing like childhood films told me he would be… other than, you know, still being a white man. Thankful for coworkers who accept my quirks even when they don’t understand them. Thankful for a generous work from home policy for days when I just can’t endure driving, or being around other humans. Thankful for the health insurance which provides me with the drugs that keep me on the living edge of the abyss. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hide in a back room and go through an ugly cry brought on by the anxiety which accompanies knowing you have just read this. Good day.

  • Making Chicken Salad
    by Valarie Regas on June 25, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    My father was 56 when I was born. “The Fall Crop” was his affectionate name for me, his youngest of four. He often used colloquial phrases from his youth. Phrases my peers at school didn’t know, hadn’t heard, and didn’t understand. I loved to quote him. One of my favorites was, “That’s like trying to make chicken salad out of chicken s***.” Clearly, the mere use of a cuss word endeared it to me as a lass. But more than that, I liked the sentiment. George Regas — master of Dad-isms.How often in our lives do we attempt to make the best of a situation, when clearly, it isn’t salvageable? How often do we attempt briccoleurmanship when the materials at hand would be found lacking even in the eyes of MacGyver? An astute adult in my life once observed that I had no reservations about refusing to make chicken salad, unless I could actually acquire a chicken. The luxury of youth is to see clearly what ought to be, how one ought to act, in blissful ignorance of the limitations placed on adults by the world around them. Sometimes, despite knowing it isn’t an ideal situation, adults are forced to find a way to make chicken salad. I completed the coding boot camp at Georgia Tech in February of this year. After a moment of “well… now what?!” panic, I set out to find a job. I began along the traditional lines; I submitted resumes, I went to job fairs. It was hopeless, to be honest. My resume doesn’t reflect the best parts of me, and no one was interested. To be blunt: my resume reflected chicken s***. I quickly adapted to non-traditional job hunting techniques, which I have shared before. Perhaps the best idea I had during that time was to examine the ingredients of me. Honestly, critically, without emotion; I evaluated myself. I had anticipated there would be difficulty in directly acknowledging my own flaws. I was wrong. As I picked apart my virtues, skills, attributes, and capabilities, I found it easy to see the areas in which I lacked. After all, how do we know what is going into our chicken salad, if we don’t identify every component? Not to imply I beat myself up over my shortcomings. I did no such thing! I believe everyone should give themselves the same leeway as we give our best friends and favorite family members. But still, I had to be brutal in how to deal with the less desirable ingredients. I recalled one of my favorite passages from George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. It inspired me to embrace my flaws entirely. Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you. ~Tyrion Lannister I was a stay at home mom for a time before attending my bootcamp. It is no secret that there is a stigma around motherhood in most industries. Employers assume we’ll be out of the office constantly, our attention always divided between work and home. I knew that, to many, that time in my life would be seen as a detriment. I had to figure out a way to wear motherhood like armor. I started by speaking about it at a few technology events. DevOpsDays AtlantaI worked to make it a positive aspect of hiring me by shouting from the rooftops the myriad reasons former stay-at-homes are uniquely qualified to add value to technology as an industry. “Coming out” as a mother while in the midst of job hunting was terrifying. I knew potential employers would see my videos, see the title of my talk. Fear not withstanding, I was determined to wear my motherhood like armor, and with pride. I transformed motherhood into chicken. I earned a BA in Crippling Student Loan Debt, er, I mean…. Psychology, years ago. Not the most useful degree for an aspiring DevOps Engineer, as it turns out. It doesn’t reflect well on my resume. However, during that time I learned much about interpersonal relationships. My ability to speak to strangers, find points of commonality, and make others feel heard comes, in part, from my useless degree. I turned my BS BA into a useful ingredient by turning my job hunt efforts towards relationship building. I went to meetups, and attended anything that could pass as a networking event. I took business cards to parties at which I thought there might be an abundance of developers in attendance. The network of intelligent, driven, entertaining, and giving people I have woven together in just a few short months astounds me. Relationships with others being, by my estimation, the main purpose of life on this planet, I feel rich beyond measure. Each person I’ve met has added to my knowledge, and some of them are directly responsible for my modest successes. Fortunately, the less desirable ingredients of me aren’t all I have with which to work. I put a great deal of energy into transforming my deficits while simultaneously putting the best parts of me front and center. Speaking at technology events has given me the ability to showcase things that aren’t easily conveyed by a resume. For example, there isn’t a clearly defined resume section to place skills such as sarcasm, banter, and inappropriate humor. Which is a shame! Those are the things that make me a fun coworker! I currently have the most wonderful first job for which I could have asked. My company is welcoming, accommodating, encouraging, and I am thankful to be there every day. This role didn’t happen easily, and it certainly did not come as a result of submitting an online resume. I met the women of Airbus Aerial at my first speaking engagement: the Women Who Code of Atlanta International Women’s Day Celebration. They saw the best parts of me, the things not on my resume, and decided they wanted me on their team. Those wonderful women went to bat for me, and their efforts led to me being able to speak to leaders on the development team. I was nervous when I met with the team to figure out if there was a place for me among them. I used that interview as an opportunity to highlight all the things that outshine my abysmal resume. My ability to learn quickly, my work ethic, and my wit were what I hoped they would see. Apparently, they did. I now spend my work days learning and growing, while doing all I can to contribute to my team. I acknowledge my shortcomings and embrace my strengths daily. I ask for help when I need it. I celebrate each success. When I take a step back and examine where I am at this point in my life I am pleased. Despite having a kitchen full of inadequate ingredients, I found a way to make career chicken salad… and it is delicious.

  • Diving Into Docker: Where Are My Floaties?!
    by Valarie Regas on April 27, 2018 at 1:33 am

    In March of this year, 2018, I attended Docker’s 5th Birthday. The event was hosted worldwide, in myriad locations. I ventured out to my local event, hosted by Docker Atlanta, with IgnitionOne providing a fantastic venue. I went primarily for the Docker playground which would be offered. I’d spent the previous several weeks reading about Docker, watching online videos, and trying to teach myself some things. I felt prepared to go in and have a ball actually working with this nifty technology. As I opened the playground and began, it became apparent that I had no idea what I was doing. It was incredibly frustrating. One of the volunteer mentors happened by, and was kind enough to offer assistance. He patiently listened as I asked question after question, and he offered answers which actually made sense. It was revelatory! I learned more in those few moments than I had in weeks of online study. I was less than thrilled with my level of knowledge acquisition at this point in my journey.Before heading home, my head hung low with defeat, I sought out the organizers to thank them for a lovely evening. As is my habit, the introduction quickly transitioned into me cracking jokes, cutting up, and enjoying being the cause of a hearty guffaw. They suggested I ought to speak at the next meetup. I agreed, enthusiastically! But there was one small problem: I DON’T KNOW DOCKER. I had given my word, and I always do everything possible to keep my promises; at the end of the day, my integrity is all I truly have. That not withstanding, the task seemed impossible: give a presentation to subject matter experts, on a technology about which I had just discovered I knew nothing, in such a manner as to keep everyone engaged and entertained. What could go wrong?! It was time to dig deep. After a week of brainstorming, an idea emerged. I sat with it, toyed with it, and rapidly, the idea evolved into a plan. My presentation ended up being different than any tech talk I have yet given. I began by admitting to the crowd my embarrassing experience at the 5th birthday gathering. Seeing as what I had been trying clearly lacked efficacy, I had set out to determine which Docker learning resources were most effective. I then introduced my volunteers. Weeks before, I had reached out to various people associated with the Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp requesting the assistance of folks who did not know Docker, but were willing to study. Two coworkers and one of my students accepted the challenge. I tasked each of them with studying Docker utilizing a specific learning resource. Meguel watched LinkedIn learning videos and did the corresponding exercises. Andrew was only allowed to watch YouTube videos about Docker. Sarah, my fearless boot camp student, drew only documentation released by Docker as her resource. I should mention here that I was raised on game shows. From Match Game 76, to Jeopardy, Press Your Luck, to Hollywood Squares, I adored them all. Wee child Valarie thought Richard Dawson was the coolest person alive. Naturally the only way I could see to adequately test the efficacy of the various learning paths was to host a game show! I had queried Google with phrases such as “common misconceptions about Docker,” and “Docker quiz” in order to build a deck of questions for my game. The twist came in the source of the answers. I asked the assembled Docker Atlanta crowd to determine if a contestant responded correctly, and to then elaborate on the nuances of said response. The first question or two required a modicum of work on my part to engage the audience and get them interacting with the contestants, the material, and one another. But they did! By question three, the room was animated with responses and debate. Each contribution from an experienced Docker user begot another, and fueled discussion. We laughed, we learned, and we all benefited. Meguel, Sarah, me, and Andrew. Sarah was the proud winner of the Golden Floatie!After the game concluded, I admitted to the Docker Atlanta community my ulterior motives for the evening. I wanted them to teach me, and the others, in a way the internet simply does not. There is no substitute for a mentor in this industry; no comparable resource to an experienced practitioner who is willing to teach. Docker users of the world, I implore you! Seek out mentorship opportunities. The contestants and I all agreed: we learned as much or more during a 30 minute game show as we did in hours of online study. ~Thank you, Docker Atlanta, for the opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, thanks to the incredible people I met. See you next month!

  • Developing A Healthy Relationship:
    by Valarie Regas on April 20, 2018 at 1:44 am

    An Ode to My Laptop I love being a developer. One of my favorite things about this path is my new relationship with my laptop. It is, arguably, the healthiest relationship I have ever had. Seriously. The choices and behaviors which have ruined so many of my relationships aren’t allowed by the laptop; it’s amazing. Think over your failed relationships — what ruined them? Many of mine have died due to miscommunication. I would ask my partner, after explaining my opinion on something, “Do you know what I’m trying to say?” Sometimes the person would sort of get what I meant, sometimes the divide was shocking. And that was only when they were honest in their response. Once dishonesty entered the equation, communication completely broke down. But my dear, precious Asus can’t lie to me. When I ask via console.log() what my machine believes the value of a given variable to be, it has to tell me the truth. If the value I intended to express is other than what the machine logs? It’s my fault, and I know it. I have to work on our relationship, so I go back to my code happily, to focus on properly communicating. I’ve also had partners who wouldn’t communicate at all. I could sense they were troubled by something as I observed the pensive look on their face, their agitated body language. Yet when asked, “What’s wrong?” they replied with a dishonest “Nothing.” I call shenanigans on that answer! Something was clearly amiss. The correct answer would have been “I’m not ready to talk about it right now.” My laptop doesn’t do this to me. When I check my console, the errors are there. If line 56 of a particular JavaScript file has upset my love, it tells me so. And more than that, it tells me as best it can exactly what has irked it, and potentially even how to correct my misstep. It will then help me research my mistake, via our counselor: Google. My laptop is there for me when I need it. The only reason it ever says “I’m too tired, honey” is when I have dropped the ball and forgotten to charge it. My screw-ups not withstanding, it is alert and attentive, up for whatever activity I’m in the mood for at the moment. It never whines or complains of boredom when I fall down a Rabbit Hole and spend hours researching some random topic. Its stamina is impressive. It does this for me without complaint, and I do my best to show gratitude by keeping it cool and charged. My laptop doesn’t sneak out to be with other developers. If it needs more than I can offer, I’m more than happy to pair program until its needs are met. It doesn’t bat an eyelash when I use my desktop; there is no jealousy. It doesn’t drink too much and refuse to code with me. It isn’t paying out child support to an ex-user, nor do I ever have to fear an angry ex showing up on my lawn to cause a scene. There is no drama with my laptop. I’ve dated a lot in my short time on this planet. I know what a bad relationship feels like, and this is not it. I will be eternally thankful to have gotten to know my laptop in this new and rewarding way. It was my material belonging for some time. Once I became a developer? It became my confederate. My partner. My co-creator. Laptop: I love you. Here we are at work. We’re so happy together!

  • The Hustle Is Real: Lessons Learned Post-Boot Camp
    by Valarie Regas on March 27, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    I recently graduated from the Coding Boot Camp at Georgia Tech, and have since been job hunting. It’s a jungle out there for entry-level applicants! I had no idea what entering technology via a non-traditional path would be like when I enrolled in the program, so I want to share the knowledge I have gained with the world. The first job is the hardest to get. I was recently at a job fair for recent boot camp grads and met the owner of a local company. He informed me that he would never hire an entry-level employee. I’m not sure why he was attending the event, to be honest, as every candidate there was entry-level. His words stung. I’d just spent a lot of money to learn a skill, and now I was hearing it may have been for naught. Be prepared to be rejected at first. A lot. And then some more. Your online resume won’t get you a job. I realized this during the third phase of resume revisions with Tech’s Career Services. I was tasked with tweaking my resume such that it would do a better job of selling me to a potential employer when it hit me: no one was ever going to see my resume. Long before it would cross a human’s desk, resume screening software would boot me. I have a degree in Psychology, no previous experience in technology, and a small gap in employment. While we ought to have a solid resume for job fairs, sending them out online is an incredibly weak method of job hunting. Which leads me to the next point… You have to go where the people are. Join Meetups to put you around the people doing the work you want to do. Love front-end development? Go to Angular and React groups. I want to be in DevOps, so I started going to Docker events. Seek out those who could hire you and get to know them! Look them in the eye, shake their hand, and show them who you are. Ask them questions so you get a feel for who they are. Build relationships. People have given me a chance for an interview based on meeting me, despite the flaws on my resume. Think about where you want to be in your career in five years. Then list the thing you would have to do before that to earn the goal opportunity. Then the step before that, and before that, and so on. Figure out the steps you have to take — not necessarily the job you want first — to get where you eventually want to be. This is where you transform a dream into a plan. Once you know what you need to do as your first step… Ask the world for what you want. Every person you meet, every event you attend, tell people what your dream role is. Ask people to help you. This world does not owe us a job. But we are entitled to ask for what we want! And if we’re willing to work hard, it’s reasonable to ask for the chance to prove ourselves. Lastly, learn from everything. Every rejection will sting. Learn to pick your chin back up and keep going. Success will feel wonderful. Learn to help others still searching, to pay forward the help you were given along the way. Show gratitude for every introduction, for every reference someone gives, and for every interview. And then enjoy your hard work paying off! I had the most pleasant job interviews of my life, because someone saw my tweet and gave me a chance.What have you learned after attending a boot camp that might help others?

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