Cover letters whyyyyyyyyyy

If I hate cover letters as much as I do (and oh god, I do) and I once made a living writing, how do other people feel?Particularly programmers, who may not have had any training in writing? Why are these archaic things still required to get a job? Someday I’m going to make good on my oft-promised threat and send a letter that simply says: “Hi, my name’s Jessa, and I am awesome. You should hire me. Here’s my resume and portfolio website! Sincerely, Jessa.”

Unfortunately today is not that day. I am not yet that courageous. Maybe someday when I don’t actually need the job I’m applying for. It’s good to have goals, right?

  • What did you learn yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • What do you expect to learn?

Ok! Friday I identified a couple places that I want to work and started at my computer for a little while being frustrated that I have to write cover letters. Then I read some more of Eloquent Ruby and called it a day. Motivation! I also decided that I’m just going to forgive myself for not finishing the bookstore project, merge the branch I was working on forever and come back to it in a little bit. I’m so tired and frustrated with it. I will come back! Just…maybe in a few weeks.

Today I am going to apply for three jobs: one with a company where a couple of my friends from code school work, one for a  New Media Software Developer with a news station in Raleigh and one for an ecommerce site in Canada. I’ve never been to Canada! Depending on how next year’s elections turn out, that may be a valuable contact to have in my pocket. It’s actually interesting, the Canadian company emailed me…so what’s the process for that? Do I just write him back and say I’m interested? Do I fill out an application through the site and then let him know? Hrm. The one advantage to being so new to all this is that I can successfully cry ignorance and ask for help. So maybe I’ll do that!

After I apply for the three jobs I’m going to reward myself by going to the gym, and then this afternoon I’m going to work on code. I’ve been thinking that maybe going back through my TIY projects might be helpful; hopefully in two ways: both to remind me how to do the various tasks and boosting my self-confidence because they’ll (hopefully) be easier than they were the first time. People keep telling me I need to work on my own projects, but I don’t really have any ideas for actual things. I’ve never been super imaginative.

Today I expect to learn how to apply for a job in Canada for which the first contact was made by them! It’s an exciting life I lead.

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SB apprenticeship: Day 29

Today is Friday! Yaaay! This morning I get to go sit on a panel at TIY about diversity and unconscious bias in tech. I’m wearing my SB t-shirt and everything, heh. Although my SB t-shirt is also one of the things I plan on pointing out — I personally haven’t experienced a lot of harassment or sexism in tech, but there are little things, microaggressions. My t-shirt, for example, doesn’t fit me right because SB doesn’t offer them in fitted/women’s style. It’s a little thing, but I like wearing t-shirts for places I’ve visited or value, and I can’t really wear this shirt because it’s too big. It’s little, but little things can build up. I’ve been thinking all week of a conversation I had with Joe earlier this week — apparently Brandon told him that my boyfriend does my homework for me. I know Brandon, and I’m pretty sure that he was joking, but it’s still hurtful to not have my accomplishments acknowledged. I’m looking forward to this panel, though. I hope that my examples are the worst I hear, but I’m afraid they won’t be.

  • What did you learn yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • What do you expect to learn?

Yesterday I paired with Brandon on my todo app. Since I didn’t understand testing, I had written the code and used Postman to check to see if it worked, but Brandon is a big proponent of TDD, especially when it comes to making APIs, so he made me throw out my code and do it again, this time writing tests first. We kind of ping-pong paired, he wrote most of the tests and then I wrote the code to make them pass. It was fun, but I’m going to have to look over his tests, he did some things that are unfamiliar to me.

Reload and merge and hashrockets, oh my!

Reload and merge and hashrockets, oh my!

Today I have the panel, then it’s Labs Day! I think I might see if I can get someone to help me pull this site, my website and my Github.io portfolio site together into one big thing. I was looking at the WordPress FAQs and it seems fairly easy to pull my content off? But who knows.

Today I expect to learn that all my sites are terribly coded (I didn’t make any of them from scratch), that they’re incompatible and I should just burn it down and start again. 🙂

SB apprenticeship: Day 22

I read an article in the New York Times yesterday that was talking about how information sharing is important in an organization, and asking for advice or help actually makes coworkers think you’re smarter. I share this in order to make my mentor feel better about my constantly asking him questions about how to do things. 🙂

  • What did you learn yesterday?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • What do you expect to learn?

Yesterday I spent most of the day working on the rails refactor assignment. My goal of breaking up the day into chunks of reading, tutorials, katas and assignments has not really been met at all. Alas. The rails refactor was super frustrating for a while, but one of my fellow apprentices got me started, and after that it went pretty well. I realized that one of my assignments for TIY was very similar to what they wanted for this, so I looked it up and used it as a template, and that worked! I need to better internalize that it’s ok to ask for help and look up old code; I still have it in my head that I’m really bad at coding because I feel like I should just *know* this stuff already.

Wait, you mean people who have been doing this for years and years feel the same way sometimes?!

Wait, you mean people who have been doing this for years and years feel the same way sometimes?!

Last night we also had a whole conversation on Slack about how Github/git is hard and it’s way too easy to mess things up. It’s really nice to be surrounded by people who are both kind and knowledgeable!

Today I’m going to hopefully finish up the rails refactor assignment and start working on the TODO app. Also, the big Apple fall event is this afternoon, and at least one other dev is planning on watching it, so I may join them. There are some interesting potential hardware upgrades, the new iPhone and iOS 9 (that will allow ad blocking, yay!) and last night Kevin noticed that the dev website newly listed the Apple TV as a thing you could make apps for. I’m not an Apple dev, and I don’t think I have a lot of interest in moving to that world (it would be weird to work in the same field as my boyfriend, right? But on the other hand, I could get a lot of help with iOS stuff…I dunno. Right now I’m focusing on Ruby on Rails, but who knows what the future might hold.) Perhaps I will watch the announcement while reading Pragmatic Programmer.

Today I expect to learn how to refactor my views!

Code school: day 1

Well, today is it. Today I give up on my liberal arts education and dreams and turn down a more practical path. Although I remain hopeful that I will be able to use my so-called “soft” skills once I find a job. Every company needs someone who can write, right?

That actually sounded a lot more pessimistic than I’m currently feeling. Learning to program does feel like a huge move away from the path I thought I would follow, but I put a lot of thought into the decision, and it makes a lot of sense for me.

So: day 1. Aside from forgetting my wallet, ritalin and water bottle at home, it went pretty well. Our first assignment was to write out how to play Battleship, in “code-y” language. It was strangely difficult to write down directions in plain english and then go through and translate them to something approximating code. Should the people playing be player_1 and player_2 or attacking_player and defending_player? How do I explain that each ship requires a different number of hits, and all five ships have to be sunk before you win? It would be far easier if the win case was simply “Hit the other player 17 times.” I’ve never paid attention to things like this before, and it’s already making my programmer friends’ mental processes make more sense to me. This weekend’s long assignment will be to actually code it, but this assignment made me realize how I need to change my attention to detail. It’s incredibly frustrating to have something not work and discover, 45 minutes later, that’s it’s solely because you have a space in the wrong place. I’m used to writing, where stuff like that is easily corrected and doesn’t really impact anything, but clearly those days are gone.

The Iron Yard staff are super supportive and enthusiastic, and they made a big deal of how many of the other students are total newbies to programming. I know that’s all over their promotional material, but it’s hard not to shake the feeling that I was going to be the only one who didn’t know what they were doing.

I am going to try really hard to update this continually as I go through this course. In addition to wishing I had some kind of resource like this when I was making my decision and attempting to prepare, I think it will be interesting to look back on as a personal journal. As such, I am going to try to list my fears and triumphs (and maybe failures, if that would be valuable) and moods as I go.

Mood: cautiously optimistic
Fears: That I’m too stupid to finish the class
Triumphs: I feel confident that my work today was good
Failures: None yet!