Hello, world!23 May 2016
This is the first post on my blog where I will be describing my journey to become a professional Master Chef. :) Sorry, wrong show! A professional code monkey? Software Engineer? Coder? Programmer? Hacker? Not sure about the title, anyhow, I would like to earn money by writing code, and I think it is something that will make me happy.
First, I will tell a little bit about myself. I can’t say I am a complete newbie, in fact, I have been exposed to programming for many years, although unfortunately I never mastered it. My brother was a computer science major in college, so I heard about and saw Unix, Perl, Pascal, and other fancy words from the “black magic” of those days.
In 1996 I graduated High School and came to New York with my family. We were financially broke, so the idea of taking student loans terrified. For financial reasons I went to a technical institute called Ort. They offered me a job in the computer lab; in exchange for working there I could take free computer classes. I loved it! They had “good enough” computer classes, especially for a newbie. I learned Visual Basic, C, MS SQL, and more. I remember installing Windows NT on 20-30 stations in the lab so I could ran MS SQL on them. There were no rigorous tests, since apperantely a technical insitute wasn’t an accredited college, although as a new immigrant I didn’t know that.
Oh what a time it was to be alive! The .com bubble! The Y2K bug! I remember walking in Union Square and collecting half a dozen different tchotchkes with the logo of some start up that no one remembers anymore. Two years later a friend offered me a job helping with database work at a non-profit. The job was really easy - unfortunately, I didn’t learn much. I guess that part of my life I could call “being lazy”. The job offered flexible hours, and I became too comfortable there. During that time I met my future husband, who went on to become a software engineer as well, but, unlike me, he actually took the time to master the craft.
My next job was my first “real” job: I worked for a start-up, and my title was “Data Technician”, whatever that meant. I worked with Oracle, MySQL, Access, Excel. I prepared data, ETL-ed it, formatted it, assisted a statistician who worked with this data. I actually enjoyed the work; it was interesting. I did what kids these days call “data science”! I learned a lot. Two years into this job I found out that I was pregnant and that the company was moving to a different state. Thus a new chapter of my life began…
Motherhood is absolutely incomparable with anything you hackers may do day-to-day! Yes I am one of those helicopter moms. I love spending time with my daughter, and I am forever grateful to my husband’s career for allowing me to do that. I will never get into the working-moms vs stay-at-home-moms debate. It’s everyone’s personal choice and preference. For my part, I can only say that on my deathbed I will remember my daughter’s babbling while I played with her at the park during deliciously long summer afternoons instead of wasting away at some office.
That being said, my baby is 8 years old now, she is in school, and my restless brain needs to work. For the last month or so my husband and I have been researching the best approach for me to take in my return to professional work in general, and a journey to becoming a programmer in particular.
I plan to use these pages as a running log of my experiences, technical and personal, as I settle into my adopted craft. I hope that this record will be useful to someone somewhere; if not in the technical sense, then perhaps as that final bit of motivation another person might need to change their life by learning something new.
Let’s get on with it.