Know Yourself | Collaboration Code Radio Episode 5

Making the jump into a new career can be difficult. Sometimes it can take years of building up the courage, find your voice and value, and then finally have that moment of clarity that allows you go fully committed.

For this episode of Collaboration Code Radio, we sit down with Jess Guttenburg. Jess is a LEARN academy alumni and is currently a Jr Developer at Q-Centrix in San Diego.

During this episode, we talk with Jess about how she found her passion and value through coding. Jess dives into how she took ownership of her own life and challenged herself to find a career that allowed her to achieve the work/life balance she was looking for.

Chelsea:  You’re listening to Collaboration Code Radio. We bring together a San Diego coding community. My name is Chelsea Kaufman, and I’m the CEO of LEARN Academy. And today’s guest is Jesse Guttenberg who graduated from LEARN Academy just this year. She’s now already working as a junior developer at Q Centrix, one of our close partners. And I’m really excited to hang out with you today and to learn more about you and to hear about your journey through LEARN and what you’re doing before and things like that. So thanks for being here.

Jess: Yeah, totally. Thanks for having me.

Chelsea:  Awesome. So just tell me what you’ve been up to, what have you been doing?

Jess: Well, I mean, life post-LEARN has calmed down a little bit. I’m still riding my bike everywhere and going to the beach, taking advantage of my location in OB, and I mean, I work, but outside of work it is just keeping it simple and kind of returning to the routine pre-boot camp.

Chelsea:  Yeah, so things have kind of slowed down after like craziness of boot camp, you’re moving slowly into life.

Jess: Oh, yeah, a very intense … like intentional reset of sorts, right? Like, boot camp was the intense experience that it was promised to be, and I asked for it to be and now it’s just how can I be a good employee and a good person.

Chelsea:  And you’re settling in Q Centrix.

Jess: Totally. Loving Q Centrix, they were as promised, a great place to learn, a great partnership, great work culture, people, it just it suits me well. They work hard and then they also relax hard, which is really what I’m about too. So it’s been very nice and I feel like incredibly blessed to have landed in a spot that actually works for me this quickly.

Chelsea:  That’s great, so like find that kind of balance where you can work hard, relax hard, which I like that term better than play hard.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  I’m going to steal that.

Jess: Totally, please do. Because, yeah, I do relax hard.

Chelsea:  Yeah, I’m going to do that this afternoon. Cool. So let’s go back a little bit, actually a lot bit, tell me about your home, where did you grow up.

Jess: Yeah, so I guess I grew up in North Carolina, Winston-Salem, and live there for 18 years as life goes, eventually ended up at UNC, and so that’s where I did my undergrad, and so I’m a big Tar Heel fan, that’s an important thing to know about me. That’s not up for debate, that’s a fact.

Chelsea:  Awesome. And you were also a swim coach, is that true? In high school or where does that fit in?

Jess: Yeah, sort of always. So I grew up playing soccer and swimming, and it was interesting, like I was a pretty good soccer athlete. I was a mediocre swimmer, but I really enjoyed like the meet planning and coaching athletes, like even at like age 10 I was on like the six and under pool deck, like helping the little ones swim. So as soon as I was able to have a job at like 15, whatever the legal age in North Carolina was for that $8 minimum wage, or I think it was less, more like 4.50 or something absurd. I started some coaching, and I did that. I actually stopped doing that only a couple years ago.

Chelsea:  Cool. Did you work computers or anything like that like a part of your growing up?

Jess: I mean, not really. I mean, the AOL, right? Like, I Aim, like chatted in high school.

Chelsea:  I’m sure, right.

Jess: But not, this is an out of left field thing for me.

Chelsea:  Cool. All right, well, we’ll get there, I’m excited to hear about …

Jess: Yeah, we’re going to build up.

Chelsea:  We’ve teased it a little bit. Cool. So you already talked a little bit about University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. But you have your bachelor’s in communication studies and African-American studies.

Jess: I do.

Chelsea:  Where did that come from?

Jess: That’s a good question. I think I chose coursework that I was interested in at the time, at like 18, 19 I was sort of struggling to be engaged in anything. And I found some courses that I liked, that were in gen ed path, and I sort of just stuck with those. I don’t think there was any real like concept of career or what’s next. I was working as a lifeguard and swim coaching, like I honestly felt at the time that was it. And I also felt a degree was important, but I didn’t … I didn’t really care what the degree was, like I wish I could say that I was like incredibly motivated and like … but I really wasn’t. I was absolutely like just getting through.

Chelsea:  Sure.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  Just getting through, but also like a dual-major.

Jess: Sure. There was the dual … I mean, I did it, right? And I loved it, I loved every moment of the classes, but it wasn’t … I had no idea what I was going to be doing the second that I got that diploma. And I was kind of comfortable with it and just sort of enjoying it.

Chelsea:  Sure. With the thought of like you could just teach swim for the rest of your life and be happy.

Jess: Right, yeah.

Chelsea:  And go that way.

Jess: Right.

Chelsea:  All right, I get that.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  But you then decided to keep going in your education.

Jess: I eventually pivoted back, I did.

Chelsea:  So you taught some swim, decided to go back and get your master’s degree in international training and education. What does that entail?

Jess: So that was … it was like this moment of feeling like I needed the change, so now like we fast forwarded a couple years, I’m mid-20s, living in Connecticut, swim coaching. And I’ve decided that what I thought was the beautiful life of swim coaching is actually like rather grueling, because it’s all evenings and all weekends. So in your mid-20s that’s not ideal.

Chelsea:  No. That is not when other people are working.

Jess: Right, so the offset schedule of every other person in the world. And I was like, “You know what? School again.” And so I ended up in DC in a program to get my teacher credential, which I felt like was a natural evolution of my coaching skill set. And then once I was there I actually found a different degree that I liked more which was the international training and education. So I was going to get the credential with that, and sort of just ended up involved in the higher ed side of this, right? So it was like very comparative education, us specifically versus like other nations, right? Like, a couple projects like US versus Cuba and how two very different nations situate in terms of education and how our politics influence that, culture influences. It was fascinating. I think another round possibly of education where I didn’t have great direction, but I was fascinated.

Chelsea:  You have a lot of passion.

Jess: I do, right. I come with some energy and I like to learn, but not always.

Chelsea:  Well, so then you started doing some teaching.

Jess: I did.

Chelsea:  Some online courses.

Jess: Right. So the school that I attended, American University, I taught for them. It was actually only one course, and it was online, it was very difficult, it was. I mean, it really was. Like, it was a bit of a stretch for me anyway to be teaching a course that I had just finished myself, and then online was an extra challenge. It was what it was. I did realize that I didn’t think online teaching was for me. That was a really difficult thing to do.

Chelsea:  Okay. Yeah, I think that … I mean, it’s a different skill.

Jess: Absolutely.

Chelsea:  A very different skill than like teaching in person, teaching online takes two different things.

Jess: Totally, yeah. I’m all about like the getting to know people and like the motivation behind something. So it was difficult, it was really difficult to engage any student using the coaching skill set, because I was so hands-on, right? And so you remove that and you put the barrier of distance and a computer, and I was …

Chelsea:  Right, you lose that connection.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  Totally. So at this point coding comes in kind of around this time. How did that come about?

Jess: Well, I’m pleased to say that after some of the misdirection or not even misdirection, but slightly aimless direction. I mean, I feel like at like 30 I’ve really sort of started to understand myself and who I am and what I want, and that this is my life, like I have to kind of own it and take the initiative there or it doesn’t happen.

Chelsea:  Right.

Jess: So I’ve sort of just been … I’ve been waiting for this moment of clarity about like what I wanted to do, what I want to be when I grow up. And it started to just sort of come together with some basic ideas of like I know I need a challenge, I must have a challenge. That’s actually been the primary issue with some of my other jobs is that I ultimately don’t end up challenged. So I need that.

And I actually as we’ve seen have a high capacity for change, and code is wonderful for that. There’s different languages, there’s different types of positions, there’s changes to what you’re already working on. So that was appealing. And then just work-life balance, it’s a wonderful community of other people who feel the same way as I do about the importance of that balance.

Chelsea:  You found an industry that you signed up for a career that is a lifelong learning.

Jess: Right.

Chelsea:  That like you will continue to learn until you decide to stop doing what you’re doing.

Jess: Yeah, I think you nailed it right there, yeah. I like to learn, and this is 100% going to give me that opportunity every day.

Chelsea:  Yes, cool. So you end up at UCSD. How did that happen? What were you doing there?

Jess: Well, so I was working at UCSD, I started there, what, 2015.

Chelsea:  You moved from DC …

Jess: I move from DC after … That’s what … Yes, so I moved to San Diego after grad school, and then started working at UCSD about a year and a half later. And it was … I mean, it’s a good stable job. I mean, it was one of those like look at this wonderful university community, like there’s all these events, again, like the theme of learning here, like I was excited by it.

Chelsea:  Yeah, and change.

Jess: And change, right, one more time.

Chelsea:  A whole new city.

Jess: Yeah, I know. And I still … I just was still waiting for that moment of clarity with what the next step was.

Chelsea:  Sure.

Jess: And that UCSD is really where it all started to come together for me, just the feeling of gearing up for something that I wasn’t sure what it was and having the time and the space to figure it out. It was … I mean, it was a wonderful place to be. I had a great set of co-workers there. And it absolutely was the right position for me to figure out what I really wanted to do.

Chelsea:  So then tell me about the like decision process and the transition from UCSD to LEARN.

Jess: Yeah, it was a long transition. I might be your longest transition ever. The most methodical.

Chelsea:  We definitely I feel like became like friends before you even joined a cohort. Like, you were around a lot.

Jess: I was around.

Chelsea:  Which is awesome.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  It was great. I think that helps.

Jess: Yeah, I feel like I got a lot of it that way. So it was … I mean, it was about a year prior to me actually attending LEARN that I hopped on Code Academy, and was like let’s see how this goes, right? So I like journal every night, I’m now like journaling in HTML, like CSS, like let’s just incorporate this into my daily life, let’s see how this takes.

Chelsea:  You need the transition.

Jess: Yeah, and I decided that I should start looking at boot camps, and just start kind of gathering information, stuff like … Yeah, just very slowly getting a lay of the land.

Chelsea:  What were you looking for, like in a school or in a boot camp?

Jess: I don’t think I knew when I was starting to look, right?

Chelsea:  Sure.

Jess: So there was a couple places in San Diego. LEARN was always kind of the immediate frontrunner, the internship month was like there was no reason to look anywhere else. The only other appealing option could have been like an evening boot camp, where I kept my full-time job, right?

Chelsea:  Right.

Jess: The internship for me in San Diego was a big deal. The other option would have been an online program that I could have done while working at UCSD. But I came to LEARN actually during my spring break from UCSD and met with Hillary. And I liked the vibe; I got to see the classroom.

Chelsea:  And you hung out with us for like a year.

Jess: Yeah, it was a full year. Just, I mean, it felt right. And so I pretty much committed to it like that day I feel like. I don’t think there was a whole lot of hesitation. The start date was the only question mark. It was a matter of finding the right cohort the right time, and that’s how it went. But I was committed the second that I entered LEARN. I knew it was going to happen.

Chelsea:  That’s great. And did you do what kind of like … In that year you’ve decided you want to go there, what did you do during that time to like prep or to … I don’t know.

Jess: Yeah, I did a lot of prep, I really did. I think like you have to … Everybody has to find their skill set here, right? Like, you have to know yourself well I think before you enter something like this. And like my number one skill, like ninja style, I’m organized and my time management is great and I’m really prepared. I would have not been as successful if I entered this without that preparation.

Chelsea:  Sure.

Jess: So it’s just a matter of me like gathering all the pieces and like feeling fully comfortable. So I mean, I guess initially it was Code Academy, I went through the HTML, CSS, JavaScripts, round one, I took some react which was don’t be intimidated, like I had no idea what I was doing maybe the first 15 times I looked at react, debatable if I still do. And then there was some Khan Academy, I did that for SQL, different presentation of information. The online boot camp that I mentioned, Flatiron, they actually have a really good prep program.

Chelsea:  Cool.

Jess: It’s like 70, 80 hours of like pretty good JavaScript, Ruby info. So I recommend that. I went to a lot of meet-ups, one or two a month, which overtime really accumulates, like you meet some people. And, yeah, I mean, I started I did jump start with LEARN in the summer, and I just … I mean, I kind of just kept going.

I knew there were phases, like during the more intense UCSD periods it was very light code work, four or five hours a week on the side. Summer was go time, 20 hours a week, let’s pick this up. And it just sort of cycled through that all the way up until the day I walked into LEARN’s door February 11th.

Chelsea:  Yeah. Well, tell me about that first day.

Jess: I was so like relieved to finally be there.

Chelsea:  You’ve been prepping for yourself like the anticipation of that first day.

Jess: Yeah, it felt it was cool, like the first day was cool. It was a nice to like meet the cohort of people I was going to be with. And I sort of immediately very much liked that group of people, like I just liked who we were, which was consoling. So I think leading up to boot camp my number one anxiety was probably the pair part, right? And especially at that point I’d been flying solo for a full year by myself, so I’ve now built up my own habits in a way that actually a lot of others hadn’t. And I was really concerned about that, and just my ability to navigate my own personal pressure with besides someone else and how that communication would be, and that was the only anxiety for me I think.

Chelsea:  Yeah, how did you work through it?

Jess: Well, I mean, I’m not terrible with people and I can communicate. But it turns out I have a lot of anxiety.

Chelsea:  Got it.

Jess: So in actuality it was pretty much just fine.

Chelsea:  Right, it was just that leading up to the unknown.

Jess: Yeah, right, it was the unknown, and that was what it was.

Chelsea:  Lots of unknown, not knowing the people and then not knowing that process of working with other people.

Jess: Sure, and that’s why the people probably stuck out to me on the first day, as I was greatly relieved that I was not going to have a problem with the vast majority of people there. So that was good.

Chelsea:  That’s great. Cool. So then tell me about your favorite parts of LEARN.

Jess: Sure, so I’ve actually left you a couple of reviews, so if anyone wants to read them, you can. I’m going to choose something different today that I actually regret that I didn’t put in some of those reviews. And I appreciated the teachers’ diversity and skill set actually. I felt like no matter what the moment was, whether you needed someone to talk to or you needed to be pushed in terms of code or you needed some help with something, command line, like whatever it was you sort of after maybe a week even knew the person to go to, and they were very happy to help. And everybody could help all the time. It wasn’t … that’s not what I’m saying. But it was just a very nice set of four people to be in front of us and to be sort of guiding us through this.

And yeah, I think that was … that left a big impression on me in terms of just who LEARN is and the kind of people you bring in to represent you every day.

Chelsea:  Yeah, that’s something that we talk a lot about, the dynamics and the makeup of our teaching staff, that like to me it is really important to have the people that are more junior developers and then having the seniors there also, so that the seniors don’t always remember what it was like to learn JavaScript at 20 years ago or … not 20, but you know what I mean.

Jess: Whenever, yeah.

Chelsea:  And so sometimes it’s hard to go back and relate to that, and it’s just a matter of relating to what you’re going through and then also having … you have the experience of the seniors that are like you can talk to them about what it was like to work in different environments and things like that, but then also have the juniors there to be like, “Oh, my gosh, this is so hard.”

Jess: Absolutely. It was very much noticed and appreciated.

Chelsea:  That’s awesome. Was there like a specific language or project or something that like stuck out for you?

Jess: Yeah, I mean, honestly, for me I love the Capstone, like my group [unclear 19:49] Execs, I’m getting a shout out right now, I was … I think, again, the instructors did a nice job of putting us in groups, and my group was spot-on, like I think we had a really nice set of code skills and a really nice set of personalities that like for me who at that moment was like in an intense place, I had people who were going to chill me out. And then I was also going to amp up them a little bit, right? Like, we played really well with each other and I thought we created an awesome project, and it was nice to like fully own something. And it was great.

I mean, we started with our wireframe, and two weeks later had a product that actually pretty much looked like that picture. And it was … I mean, it was just … To take ownership over that and to kind of have that in like my tool belt of sorts or just like things that I’ve done was a really nice moment.

Chelsea:  Yeah. What was the project?

Jess: So we created Mob Fit, which was basically like …

Chelsea:  Mob Fit.

Jess: Mob Fit, yeah. So like think like informal meet-up style, like take advantage of San Diego’s beautiful parks, beaches, outdoor spaces, and let’s say that you’re a trainer and you hop on and you want to create an event for a cliff lock at Sunset Cliffs. You just post the event; people can sign up to attend. Totally informally, no cash, nothing like that. And it gives trainers an opportunity to get a little bit of advertising. I don’t know if advertising is the word, but like get themselves out there a little bit.

Chelsea:  Build up their clientele.

Jess: Sure, there you go. And for other people to get a workout outside for free.

Chelsea:  Yeah, so it’s like flash mob meets personal training.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  Yeah, okay, I like it.

Jess: It was cool.

Chelsea:  Great. So what part within that Capstone, what was your responsibilities, what was it like working in that team?

Jess: We definitely all had very different responsibilities. We overlapped because four people, but I mean, I felt like I took the lead with a lot of the like back-end code. Part of the reason we chose to do Mob Fit was really an understanding of the skills that we had and what we could do that was going to showcase that. And so Mob Fit had two different like dashboards, one for trainers, one for athletes. So that gave us like a pretty … I mean, it wasn’t that large of a database system, but the model was a little more robust than it had to be. The permissions were a little more robust than they had to be.

But it led us, as a foursome, that were a little more backend oriented capitalize on that versus putting all of our money into the front-end CSS. So it gave us a lot of different opportunities to all touch different things. And I think that, I mean, I definitely was a lot of the backend there, I worked with some react as well. And Robert was certainly our project manager and led the way there, and I probably led the way on the code side.

Chelsea:  Sure.

Jess: It was fun.

Chelsea:  What a great experience?

Jess: It was awesome, yeah.

Chelsea:  To get to the point where you’re taking all the things that you learn and put it into something that you built, that you came up with and built yourself.

Jess: Yeah, it was really fun. It really was. And it felt like we had a good picture of it from the first day and how to actually turn that into code. And it was, I mean, it actually like fully exceeded my expectations in terms of what I thought we’d be able to fully outline and accomplish, like we were very practical about it. It was cool.

Chelsea:  That’s great. So looking back, what are three things you wish you knew before you started?

Jess: Well, I mean, I think I took good advice actually from you at LEARN, which was to take lots of advice, so I’m going to share some of that. My first is really to like get to know the scene, right? Go to the meet-ups, take advantage of LEARN Alum; get coffee, that’s really like how you start to figure this world out. And even if you’re not … Even if you don’t have the time to really dive into the code, I do think the meet-up scene is important. Even if it’s a small LEARN community meet-up, that’s still a good place to get some information.

And then my other piece of advice would be to do your prep work. I think it gives you more space during boot camp to take things to a slightly different level, like start working on your Github repository, start creating other projects, start your portfolio. And if you’re so bogged down with like the daily of the syllabus, you don’t have the time to do that. You absolutely don’t have the energy. But if you’ve done a lot of that prep work you’ve sort of … you’ve got a little bit of time or a little bit of head space to get the things done that you will ultimately want and you need to have done. But you can push yourself in a different way if you’ve done that prep work.

And I think the third piece of advice I would have is that with the knowledge that you now have entering, don’t get so overly stressed in the daily lesson. If you don’t get it or you don’t finish whatever it is … I’m not saying there’s no repercussion, like it’s good to understand, but the repetition of concepts will be there. You will get through it. And not everything will come naturally, so there is the one piece of advice that I wish that I had taken myself was a little more patience in that regard.

Chelsea:  Patience. And we talk a lot about the idea of trusting the process.

Jess: Sure.

Chelsea:  Of like you said, that you may not … you won’t grasp everything in one day.

Jess: Right.

Chelsea:  That that is an impossible thing for anyone to do. And so understanding that there is a reason behind the lessons and things like that will lead you where you need to go.

Jess: Right. You’ll somehow get there. I mean, and I’ll say …

Chelsea:  It’s not somehow, it’s very plan.

Jess: You do. Well, I feel like somehow is …

Chelsea:  Totally, totally.

Jess: Like, I don’t know how this happened. That’s why the Capstone sticks out to me, it’s like this – can we pull this off? And like you do.

Chelsea:  That’s so awesome.

Jess: It is.

Chelsea:  That you go from like not … And a lot of people come in pretty green, and then getting to that place where they’re like building their own app by the end of the program is it’s very eye-opening.

Jess: Yeah, absolutely. It’s bewildering in a good way.

Chelsea:  Yeah, well, so you also I hear have a really awesome portfolio site.

Jess: Oh, thank you.

Chelsea:  You don’t have to roll your eyes, I’m giving you a compliment.

Jess: Thank you. Eyes still.

Chelsea:  So did you build that during the class?

Jess: I did.

Chelsea:  Yeah, what was that? What languages did you use? What’s that process like?

Jess: I wish I could take like full credit for this portfolio. Truthfully this is like a wonderful Bootstrap template. I mean, I did add to it, right? Like, you can put your own touch on these things. I think it’s important to show your personality, like that’s how you engage … That’s how you’re going to engage people or employers or recruiters or whomever it is. You better be likeable.

So I mean, I didn’t … Again, I understood my skills, CSS is not my skill, so I chose something that was going to have a lot of that built in, and then I worried about a lot of functionality. Does the modal work? Does the contact form work? The things like that that I could …

Chelsea:  That are important.

Jess: That are important, and I could push myself on and I would enjoy, but weren’t going to be kind of a tiresome exercise and not even showcase what I’m skilled at.

Chelsea:  You’re pretty good at, yeah. I just had this conversation with another student about portfolio sites, that the point of a portfolio site is to show off what you can do, just like you said. And so if you want your portfolio site to be your portfolio, then spend the time doing that. But if you want it to just be the vehicle that gives people the things that you’re good at, and I think that was a really good thing to recognize, that those templates are great, make them work and work for you.

Jess: Right.

Chelsea:  And then use them to …

Jess: Know who you are.

Chelsea:  Show off your stuff, show off what you’re good at.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  And I love your ability to recognize the things that you’re good at and not good at, it is such a great skill, life skill, to be able to do that.

Jess: I think it’s so important, yeah. And that’s my advice for everyone, right? Is really start to … You don’t need to limit yourself, you can’t limit yourself, right? I presented as a fully full stack person, and this portfolio did present me as a full stack person because it was polished, but I didn’t have to spend my time worrying about flex box or color.

Chelsea:  Right, well, and I think that you can be a full stack developer and be good at one or the other, right? Full stack just means you understand both of them, and you understand the sides of all of it. And so you can be in one world or the other, you can be passionate about one or the other. And that I think there are …

Jess: Be very successful.

Chelsea:  … very few people out there that are just great at everything, like that’s …

Jess: 100%.

Chelsea:  … that’s not a thing.

Jess: 100%.

Chelsea:  And so being able to say, “Yeah, I am great at this. I am not great at that,” is a good trait.

Jess: Yeah, absolutely.

Chelsea:  For a student and I think for an employee as you keep going.

Jess: Thank you.

Chelsea:  Cool. So tell me a little bit about the program and getting into the internship, interviewing with other companies, how did you decide, and what was that interview process like?

Jess: I mean, it was stressful, right? I mean, it feels … And we’re told this that …

Chelsea:  We try and warn you.

Jess: Yeah, we are told that this feels like the most stressful moment in our lives. And it is actually not.

Chelsea:  Sure.

Jess: That’s true. I did feel like it was the most stressful moment of my life.

Chelsea:  Yeah, but you got through it.

Jess: I got through it, and I liked every company actually that I interviewed with, right? I mean, it was a great diverse group. I was lucky. I think I ended up with like six different interviews because we were … just a lot of different companies, so a lot of different exposure, and a lot of moments of being able to refine your pitch about who you are, which was really important.

Chelsea:  Yeah.

Jess: So it became less about the stress of where I end up, and more about how can I fine tune this. So after the third or fourth I was sort of … The reality of I will be placed somewhere, right? I would prefer it to be one of two places possibly, but I will get placed somewhere.

Chelsea:  Right.

Jess: And I will be okay. And now I actually have a pretty good interview script for this set of five to six questions.

Chelsea:  That’s so great, because I think that we set it up that way kind of intentionally that you have to go through this interview process, which is stressful, I understand. But in the end no matter what – everyone gets something.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  And so hopefully you can take that opportunity, and it sounds like you did to learn about the interview process and to really refine your own pitch.

Jess: Yeah, it’s important. Take your own notes, like know … you know why you’re here. My hardest one was my first one with Rob, for sure.

Chelsea:  I wish he was here to hear that.

Jess: You can let Rob know.

Chelsea:  He wasn’t the scariest one.

Jess: He broke me down, yep.

Chelsea:  That’s great.

Jess: On my birthday actually.

Chelsea:  Oh, my gosh. He will like that story. Cool. Well, in that, do you have any tips for people that are in the interview process?

Jess: Breathe.

Chelsea:  Yeah, that’s a great one.

Jess: Yeah. Yeah, breathe just through all of this. I think when we … A lot of the questions that I had for other people or for other companies were very centered on like what do you want in a junior developer or junior engineer. And like by and large the response is like a hunger to learn. So have some self-awareness about what you know and what you don’t know, and that’s okay. But also express that desire to learn, like be hungry. And I think if you can somehow maintain the balance of those two things, like you’re an employable person, you can clearly communicate if you’ve done that, and people will understand that you don’t know everything. You have to understand that you don’t know everything and be okay with that, and own that in a way that works for an interview.

Chelsea:  Yeah. So you’ve now made the transition, you went to Q Centrix as an intern; you have now been hired on as a junior developer. That’s very exciting.

Jess: Yeah, very exciting.

Chelsea:  What is your favorite part about being a web developer?

Jess: I think experiencing kind of small success has become a highlight. I was given some very good advice by one of the people who had supervised me during my time at Q Centrix. And one of the days where I was worked up over just not being able to work through something, she just sort of said like, “Look, we’re not expecting you to finish this like rapidly. You need to walk away every day with something you’ve learned. Like, that’s the best measure of any kind of growth here. It’s not going to be the speed of anything, it’s not going to be the point you get per sprint. But do your best to just note that.”

And I journal every day, so this has kind of become a part of my routine of just noting the one thing that I’ve learned every day, and it’s become very easy to see like incremental small success. Last night my lead review for this card I was finishing up asked me to basically completely rework the specs on how I did it, really just for the exercise of doing it. And I got … I mean, I got it done in about two and a half hours, and it sort of just came to my brain in a way that it hasn’t before. And I mean, I would have noticed the success regardless of my smaller measurements, but it’s been very nice to see that growth and just continuing to get better, and just gathering knowledge, it’s really cool. And they’re patient so far with that.

Chelsea:  What a great environment to be in to set those clear goals and expectations with you so that you have that confidence that you don’t have to finish everything and that you can learn and grow and have the opportunity?

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  That’s really great.

Jess: It was very much appreciated. I mean, there I put pressure on myself, like there’s no … I mean, that’s not a mystery or something that people don’t know. I wear it on my face, it’s obvious. Everyone knows where I’m at at all times.

Chelsea:  Yep. I have that same problem.

Jess: Right, you are similar there, that’s true.

Chelsea:  Yes. I’m very emotive.

Jess: Yeah. And it’s a good thing, right? But it has lent to getting good advice, because people can see it.

Chelsea:  Right, totally. It’s not as great for podcasting, because no one can see what our faces look like.

Jess: No one knows, right. We’re good right now, folks. Don’t worry.

Chelsea:  Right, everything’s good, we’re smiles and all this thing. Cool, and so I want to talk a little bit about women in tech.

Jess: Okay, cool.

Chelsea:  That we … it’s something that I’m really passionate about, it is really important for LEARN and to help build that community. Can you tell me a little bit about like you’re new in the industry, what your experiences have been like and if you’ve had any struggles or anything like that along the way or successes?

Jess: Yeah, for sure. I think I’ve been really lucky in this regard. As you’ve said, as like CEO basically of LEARN like you’ve created a world where women are supported. My cohort was basically 50/50, and my work is similar, we are probably closer to 50/50, we’ve had some changes so I think we’re … But we have a great representation of women there. And I’ve been lucky that I haven’t felt really any negativity from anyone at any moment.

Chelsea:  Great.

Jess: I’ve also aligned myself with a couple of the like women who code or girls in tech like meet-up scenes, so I’ve sort of positioned myself maybe to be in a safe inclusive environment at all times.

Chelsea:  Sure.

Jess: But it has been wonderful and inclusive.

Chelsea:  That’s great.

Jess: And I think like the most important thing for women, like whether we’re in code or in education or swim coaching, it’s just like be supportive of each other and encourage each other and raise each other up. And that will spread, like … And I think I’ve been lucky possibly, but maybe it’s San Diego, I don’t know.

Chelsea:  Well, maybe a little of both, a lot of both probably.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  I think that it sounds like you’ve been very intentional about the kinds of environments you want to put yourself into. And maybe you’ve been aware or even not aware that you’ve been attracted to environments that support women and things like that.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  That I think that asking the right questions and finding the right groups of people to support you are important, getting involved with women who code or girls in tech and there’s lots of resources out there for women coming into the industry or people that are wanting to learn and grow in the industry too.

Jess: Right, and as you said, for me it feels like there’s so many women in the development world, because that’s what I see.

Chelsea:  Sure.

Jess: But, yes, I have intentionally put myself in those situations. So I encouraged you to do the same.

Chelsea:  Yeah, well, and I think it’s not always that way.

Jess: Right.

Chelsea:  Like, I would love to be able to say all of our classes are 50/50.

Jess: No, right, yeah.

Chelsea:  But that’s not the case, and so I think that your words of encouragement of supporting each other and things like that, especially I think as alumni of LEARN or being a part of the community, that when we do have those cohorts that are not as equally represented, that they have other people to support them.

Jess: Absolutely.

Chelsea:  That’s important, finding ways to do that I think.

Jess: Yeah.

Chelsea:  Well, we are continuing to try to do and invite our students to participate in.

Jess: Right, absolutely. I think my first meeting with a LEARN alum was with Siena, so I was from the beginning set up with that outlook and it paid off for me.

Chelsea:  That’s great. Do you have any last advice for anyone looking to learn to code?

Jess: I mean, I think I’ve said it, but I mean, I really think we’re all different, we all need different levels of preparation or time or focus. So know yourself, capitalize on that, that’s the best way to gain entry into any new career, is to come with the skills you come with and learn how to transfer those to a different world.

Chelsea:  Find your value and voice.

Jess: Yeah, absolutely. Because … and that is actually what makes this really important, is that the whole point of boot camps is to bring in different people to the tech scene.

Chelsea:  Yes.

Jess: And so you have to know what your value is and learn how to transfer that.

Chelsea:  That’s great. Well, thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Jess: Totally.

Chelsea:  And I love learning a little bit more about you and your background and your journey through LEARN, how we love having you be a part of the community. And I really look forward to seeing what you do in the next few years.

Jess: Cool. Thank you for having me, it was a blast.

Chelsea:  Thanks. And thanks for listening to another episode of Collaboration Code Radio, you can check us out at Thanks.