Stay Curious

Finding purpose through lifelong curiosity is a goal I hope to always achieve. When do we lose the child-like curiosity for the world around us? I think when this innocent curiosity dies, a part of our soul and livelihood goes with it, too. I take pride in being able to entertain myself with something as seemingly trivial as the intricacies of an anthill. Call me weird, whatever. Ants are spiffy and there’s so much we’ve learned from them and how they interact with each other and their environments. Anyway, moving along here.

The journey of changing my career path is a big undertaking and nowhere near over, but it has helped push me into a world I would have otherwise never known. I am grateful that I have been able to slowly chip away at this enormous task, one class at a time. Looking at my progress now, a mere 3 classes left until I’m eligible for the Computer Programming Certificate. They’re all 4-unit classes and sound incredibly scary, but I could hypothetically complete it all in a single semester! I might not be a programming whiz yet, but I’ve had steady exposure for 4 semesters now. Tenacity! Woo!

Back to the moral of my monologue… In my life so far, many of the best people I know never really decided “what they want to do with their lives”, in the general sense. They are fun, well-rounded and curious people with open minds and heaps of interesting life experiences. There is so much we can learn in our short time in this world, and I think it’s paramount we savor the flavor of life and stay curious!

Coping with Failure

Yesterday I was fired and given no reason for my termination. My last employee review was perfect, I had never been written up or warned for behavior or shortcomings of any kind in my work, and I had received a 10% raise. Nothing but positivity. Why am I being fired with a day’s notice if I did nothing wrong? Even more importantly, how can I learn from something like this with no feedback whatsoever? I knew we were doing poorly as a company, and I have to imagine this was the root cause of my job’s demise. Perhaps by not saying anything about poor company performance, my employer was hoping to avoid widespread employee panic? I’ll likely never know; my efforts should be focused on securing another job and moving forward.

I want to take a moment to specifically drag the grueling process of modern-day job searching into view before I continue. In today’s world of applying online, filling out forms, recruiter calls, and ghosting, it’s extremely difficult to keep your head high when you’re suddenly dropped flat on your face. I’ve had recruiters ghost me after the 3rd interview (an alarming number of times) and I’ve had hiring managers no show to phone interviews. You would expect much more professional behavior, right? It’s easy to feel defeated, expendable, and worthless. But maybe it’s a good thing these opportunities didn’t work out. Who wants to work for a company that treats potential candidates this way? Interviews are a two-way street, after all!

It had been extremely hard for me to deal with yesterday’s failure because I blamed myself for being laid off. I know this might sound short-sighted, but let me explain. I spent hours thinking about what I could have done wrong, and why nothing negative was ever mentioned in my reviews. Ultimately, the answer was right in front of me. There wasn’t any information other than what I had been able to glean about plummeting company sales and inability to afford employee raises, and I didn’t know what I did wrong because the problem wasn’t me. The issue that caused me to lose my job was completely unavoidable and out of my hands. I had to simply accept it and move on. Did I feel utterly wronged and left “high and dry” by my boss? Absolutely, 100%. Will it matter in 6 months or a year? Nope, I’ll survive. Time to move forward and put my interviewing hat on.

Identifying new opportunities from a winding path of life choices is a superpower I think I have developed over the last decade. I like to call it being resourceful or dynamic. In the pursuit of my academic and professional goals, I have seen stumbles, U-turns, and plenty of hiccups. I have found that instead of worrying about one door that may have closed, I try to open my eyes to identify the plethora of doors that are open because of the winding path I have taken to my current self. I can continue to see my options, as opposed to being blinded by how things could have been different. Each bend and turn in my life experience has given me a new tool or perspective to use in my current life.

What I’m trying to say is long, straight paths are boring; take the scenic route and make sure to follow the sunshine. Time to update my resume, I ready for the next big thing šŸ˜‰

Celebrate Small Successes

It’s easy to forget about the little wins and lesser accomplishments while on a journey to some larger, grander goal. Don’t brush these small successes aside. Write them down, reflect, and remember where you were on your quests a month ago, a year ago, or longer. Oftentimes we overlook these minor achievements and hastily cast them away instead of appreciating how far we have come. Take your wins and hold them close. You don’t have to brandish them loudly. Use them as fuel to the fire of self-motivation and onward progression.

By keeping a small 3×5″ notebook with me everywhere I go, I can look at my daily progress whenever I need to. Whether academic in nature, for professional development or personal growth, it’s all there. I flip through the worn pages frequently, and look back at my notes from the beginning of Fall semester, recalling what my state of mind was only 16 weeks ago. Everything changes so quickly.

My notebook keeps me accountable for my (sometimes) fleeting ideas and inspirations, as well as my established milestones. It keeps me in a forward motion by providing proof of progress in the short-term. This method allows me to enjoy the process of getting to a destination, every little hurdle is documented and overcome. Somehow I discovered that writing things down helped me to organize and prepare for each day, and to stay on a path where I can continuously take little steps forward.

Take little steps, and celebrate each and every one.

Unseen Doors

It’s interesting to see how things change after you begin down any particular path. Doors open and close constantly. What I have discovered is many doors appear, too. Opportunities I didn’t realize were a possibility are coming into view. An example of this is the handful of positions I am looking at and being recommended for. Though they’re not developer positions, they’re roles that seem to perfectly blend my current experience. These roles are things like technical writing for software, project or product management with a team that requires deep knowledge of a programming language and agile process, etc.

Here I was, worried about my experience being too broad yet there are plenty of directions I can move in that would accept my current skillset with open arms. It is empowering and encouraging in this terribly emotional rollercoaster that is a job search.

Finals Week is Here

Finals week is here, my last projects of the semester are due by the beginning of next week. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the final project guidelines for Android Development this Saturday. Once this coursework is complete, I can focus 110% on my emerging job prospects. Not only will this week be heavy in coursework, but I have a few exciting conversations to look forward to, too! I have to be careful not to let my attention constantly wander through the “what-ifs” of life, but change is exciting! I’ll be a bit distracted, to say the least.

I will upload screenshots and descriptions of my final projects once they are complete!

When the Party’s Over

The event in SF went great. The speakers all had a sense of humor, and the talk had positive energy throughout. I was able to discuss opportunities with a couple of recruiters from the company, which has me extremely excited. We will see in the coming weeks if anything materializes; I get to do that silly dance where I can’t come across as too enthusiastic. I can’t help it, I get so excited.

Fall semester is coming to a close soon and there are only a couple weeks left of instruction. I got a little lost in my Android class, unfortunately. I fell behind last week when I was traveling and distracted by the tech talk event. Time to catch up on SQL databases in Android as well as last week’s topics of study to finish strong on the final! Last, I have to put the final touches on my class project site (check it out here) and incorporate JavaScript into it somewhere. Then onto spring semester where I am enrolled in R, C#, and waitlisted for Python.

In sifting through little accomplishments to add to my portfolio, I remembered there were a few JavaScript projects I did on KhanAcademy a couple of years ago. One is a shooting star scene animation, another is a googly-eyed frog, along with a few others. I’ll post the link in the sidebar of the blog page. Check them out, laugh at my expense, or play with the code and change it all around!

Happy Monday!

To SF!

I’d like to draw a teeny bit of attention to my GitHub repository for my Android Development CSCI 235 class. I have each lab assignment on there, uploaded in a zip file (I wasn’t really sure what format to share them in). I also have a repository for my CSWB 110 class, with my personal class website, projects, and other assignments. Feel free to check them out. They are by no means masterpieces, but it’s work I have done. There’s no point in waiting until I have perfect work of code-art to share what I’m doing– especially since this is supposed to be about my learning process! Find my GitHub link (and everything else) in the footer of this page.

There are only 3 or so weeks of instruction left in both my Android and CSS/HTML courses; how exciting! The pressure is on for picking courses for next semester. I’m leaning heavily in the direction of Python and/or C#… I’m not so sure I could handle both of them in one semester right now though!

In more exciting news, I’ll be taking a long car ride to the bay in hopes of making new friends in the industry and maybe getting a shiny new job lead! I’m super excited at the new possibility of finally getting into a position where I can learn, and get some traction to excel!

One Year Later

Here we are, one year later. I have completed (or am currently enrolled in) the following courses in computer programming through Palomar College.

  • Programming Fundamentals I (program design in C) CSCI 112
  • Programming Fundamentals II (OOP design in Java) CSCI 114
  • Introduction to SQL CSIT 150
  • Android Development CSCI 235
  • Web Site Development HTML5/CSS3 CSWB 110

Though I did drop one class this semester (3 was just way too many with a full-time job) I am still happy with my progress. I will admit though, I think I need a solid project to focus on to get REAL skills. Taking courses is good, but it’s not going to get me a shiny new job if I can’t showcase what I’ve learned and perform with industry-standard tools!

So now I move on with a new set of goals in mind. I hope to create my first portfolio items. I’ll have one for fun and one work-related. The fun one might be with regard to games and learning C++ or a game engine like Unity. The work one will likely be exploring how to create test scripts to test web-based applications. Wish me luck šŸ˜‰

Cart before the horse?

Final exams are less than a week away, and I’ve already registered for next semester. In a frenzy, I’ve also become obsessed with student internship opportunities, particularly with Blizzard– I can dream, can’t I?! Am I jumping the gun? Either way, I’m prepared to take my next steps forward and have found a fresh push of enthusiasm for building a game programmer portfolio!

Next semester will be an interesting mix of introductory SQL, Java programming, and computer applicationĀ concepts (couldn’t possibly be any more ambiguous).

I’m facing a bit of lingering imposter syndrome. Am I pushing myself into something unrealistic? Have I destroyed any hopes of a real career? I ask myself these things every day, and sometimes the demons get the better of me. Perhaps the better question would be: what the heck would I be doing otherwise?!

Motivation

My midterm was yesterday night. It was a long night. I took almost the full 3 hours to complete it! Grades came out today, and I aced it! Barely. I got a 91%, and though I’m really excited I’m a little peeved at myself for missing a few of the multiple choice/short answer questions. The programming part of the exam I scored a solid 100%, though. All in all, I’m happy! This afternoon I’ve browsed through the list of computer science courses in the fall catalog in anticipation for the semesters to come.

In other thoughts, I might try the 100 days of code challenge. Though I’m not confident I can do an hour a day on the weekends, I can likely commit to an hour each weekday. I struggled for a while with what exactly I should focus on for this challenge; you’re supposed to have direction or an end goal. Myles mentioned he is going to build a website portfolio completely from scratch. That’s neat, and relevant for him, but I don’t think I want to be a web developer. I get really excited about games, and perhaps that’s the direction I should move in. Why fight it if it’s something I naturally enjoy?

With high spirits, I move forward; though a little afraid of the course material to come!