Virtual Life & Snake

The world is holding its breath for normalcy. All has gone virtual, my internship included. It is a critical time to thank our lucky stars, continue moving forward with our goals, and keep in touch with those we care about. I am grateful to have a summer internship to look forward to. I received a phone call from the university relations recruiter, and will officially be a Blizzard intern for the summer of 2020. *Sigh of relief* I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in an industry I thought I could only dream of breaking into. Life takes another step forward and this chapter of isolation will end soon enough.

In coding project-related news, I made a copycat version on Snake in Python; how ironic. Having never installed new modules in Python before, I had the opportunity to briefly learn about using pip and installing with the command prompt console. Below is a screenshot of me killing it in my Snake game. I’ll add polish to it I think. Maybe a score counter or something? There’s also a funny bug I need to fix where my snake will allow a collision with itself and will somehow lose its head and chop itself into smaller snakes. It adds a whole new level of depth to the game if you keep playing it like that!

Figuring out how the squares are supposed to move and behave was difficult to wrap my head around. I am grateful to have a tutorial in situations like this to guide the general logic flow. This project will be pushed to my GitHub account (link in footer) and updated as I fix or change little things here and there.

Something About Practice

Good news! Classes have not been canceled; everything has been moved online. I’ll be able to finish out the semester just fine!

Since the COVID pandemic has most businesses closed and there isn’t much else to do but go for occasional walks and stay at home, I’ve had lots of time to think about a suitable project to showcase some skillset with Python and coding in general. I think I found a fun project that will cover a couple of difficulty levels of programming by creating classic games like Pong, Snake, Connect 4, and Tetris.

So far I’ve made Pong, and it was incredibly simple and fun. I’m making a few silly changes to the game to make it “mine”. I have a couple more tiny tweaks to make to it before it’s done. I’ll add each game to my projects page as I complete them.

Finding motivation and concentration in this time of social distancing and quarantine has been surprisingly difficult. Between having a small personal project and my remaining coursework, I’ll busy for the next 8 weeks at least!

Pong! It’s not quite done yet. Check my projects page for the completed version.

Spring of 2020 and COVID-19

Who would have guessed a virus would decimate the world economy, shut down travel, and bring every conference and social event to a screeching halt? Halfway through the Spring semester, my Python course has been officially put on pause. My assumption is everyone is preoccupied with their kids being out of school, losing their job, etc. because of this virus and the school is cutting everyone a break. It’s also likely that they can’t put all classes online (too much website traffic), therefore nobody gets to continue class.

Meanwhile, the general population is being told to work from home if possible and to not come into work until April. Everyone is supposed to be isolating themselves from each other. I don’t really know what to do with myself, and everyone else seems to be at a loss, too. Kids are playing in the street and people are taking their dogs for walks several times a day. It’s wholesome as hell but really strange at the same time.

What is particularly troubling to me is the email I got on last week concerning my internship-of-a-lifetime. In short, it said, “we’re monitoring the situation”. This scares me for a few reasons. First, it might be pushed to summer 2021 (me speculating). Second, it could be canceled altogether (me wildly speculating). Third, I could go out there, get sick, and DIE (me throwing COVID-19 statistics and rationality completely to the wind). Of course, I have no actual evidence any of these scenarios have any odds of actually playing out. Yet the fear continues to creep in.

It’s funny how normal everything seems when you take a walk down the street and listen to the birds singing. All of this pandemic anxiety seems to be stemming from people simply worrying about what could happen. Perhaps I should unplug for a while, maintain immaculate hygiene standards, and just enjoy the business-as-usual around me. I think I’ll try to get ahead in my Python class and plan a DnD campaign session (my new hobby).

What Are the Odds?

The best thing has happened. I accepted an offer for an internship with a major gaming studio for the summer of 2020, and will be working on a product management team. This is exciting for a multitude of reasons. I’ll name names and share more specifics once it all begins in late May.

First, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from industry experts in a super fun and friendly working environment. Second, it is a foot in the door to prove my worth and absorb as much as possible in my short time there. Hopefully, that means I can land a permanent position after the 12-week program is over. Lastly, even though it’s “only an internship”, this company provides fair pay, covers transportation costs AND housing, and puts together bunches of fun events for interns to build positive relationships with other interns, employees, and senior staff. And here I was, ready to work for free and trying to figure out how I would afford to pay for life during that 12-week term… derp. The craziest part is it didn’t really start to all sink in until many hours after signing the offer, as I was reading more about the program. Let me explain.

In the previous year, there were over 24,000 applicants and only 93 were accepted as interns. That’s less than a 0.4% acceptance rate. I’m sure my eyes bugged out of my head for a second when I read those odds. Though I don’t know what the statistics were for this year, it’s still extremely empowering.

Another aspect of this process that caught me completely off guard was the response I got to the question, “How did I stand out as a candidate?”. I was told it was my honest cover letter. I talk about my change in direction, highlight my tenacity in this major shift, and talk about how I’m looking forward to continuing progress in the industry. One interviewer mentioned my cover letter resonated with her personally because of her own journey. She started in pre-law and left to work in the video game industry for many years before landing a gig with this studio. Now THAT’s a transition! It was nice to hear that my cover letter was actually read in the first place, but also that it did a good job connecting to my target audience.

Now comes the waiting game for the next 83 days… It will feel like an absolute eternity, but I’ll do my best to stay occupied with coursework and learning valuable skills that will help me perform this summer.

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 😉

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!