Click on the following links to skip to different blogs!
|My first post||Expanding my work||Happy New Year's Eve!||Back to work...|
|Loving this!||Meetups are excellent!||Reading other blogs = inspiring.||Lucky? Or Determined?|
|Clarity.||UI/UX. For some, worse is better.||Android is my passion.||Yellow Ribbon App Update.||Next blog coming soon!|
I am very excited to announce that I am finally following my dream of becoming a software engineer. I'm not going to lie, for the past few years I have been thinking about becoming an official programmer, but I was always too scared! I am currently a high school science and engineering teacher, and have been a teacher for the past seven years. I am very good at teaching, and I truly like the kids I work with. On top of being a teacher, I am also the STEM ambassador for the school, which means I am responsible for advertising and "selling" our STEM program to both our administration and the public. I am also very good at this job. When I started on this extra duty five years ago, the STEM program consisted of a handful of class offerings and approximately one hundred students. It has now grown to twelve class offerings, spanning over about forty classes per day, and reaching over a thousand students. I also organize and coordinate fund raising efforts for college credit for these classes, and because of my organization, close to five hundred students get free or cheap college credit every year through their STEM classes. All of this work has been rewarding, but while I have been attempting to recruit young minds to the STEM field, I also recruited myself to the computer science profession. I have realized over the years how much of a passion I have for programming! See my resume and portfolio for more of my projects!
I first was introduced to programming in high school, when I took a few classes using C and HTML programming. I created several video games and a website in these classes. I found the classes to be extremely easy. I was a fast learner, and a fast typer. I also had some programming experience during college. I was an assistant in a Physics lab, and my professor was working on a grant for Dark Matter research with the Sanford Laboratory in Lead, SD. He needed help programming a data collection program using C++, so I created the program with him in a few weeks. Even with all of this programming background, I still did not think of it as a career. I really have no idea why I didn't think of it.
When I graduated from college, the Great Recession was just beginning. I was offered jobs in research facilities, but all of the job offerings were temporary, and I could not financially take a job for six to eight weeks at a time without benefits and without knowing what would come next. That is when I decided to go in to teaching. And like I said earlier, I was good at it and really liked the students. I am called mom on a regular basis by several hundred students, and I feel like I have an impace on them and their lives. But I am also ready to do what I really love to do, and that is to write code!
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I woke up thinking about coding more, so I got on the computer right away and started researching how to create some apps I have been thinking about. One app is a new custom emoji keyboard. This emoji keyboard would be downloaded from the app store, and would have a slew of new emojis in it. My husband and his friends want different emojis for their long strings of texts, something that is just for them, so I thought I would give that a try. I also want to create a simple game for the app store, something my kids would like to play when I drag them out shopping. I imagine this game to be something like tetris or pac-man, so I started researching this as well. I also started playing around with some different animations in my other github repository called "playaround". The website for this playaround is HERE. Happy coding everyone!
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Today is New Year’s Eve, and it is tradition to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one that starts in just a few hours. Previously, my New Year’s resolutions consisted of the usual: work out more, put more in to savings, put down the phone and be present in the moment, etc. But this year I’m not as interested in making any resolutions. I already crossfit fairly regularly, and already have a plan in place to get back to a mostly paleo lifestyle (I say mostly because full on paleo is extremely difficult, especially for a teacher who has to eat breakfast extremely early, does not have a break to snack during the day, and has about twenty minutes to eat lunch). Crossfit and nutrition are already normal for me. Plus, I am comfortable with the new career I’ve chosen, and most importantly, I’m determined. This has already become my lifestyle, and I don’t need a resolution to bring it to the forefront.
I spent a good chunk of time yesterday going through my current portfolio and linking my work to my website. I had honestly forgotten many of my accomplishments as a teacher over the last few years. My current reality in secondary education has gotten extremely busy and stressful, and I have not been taking the time to reflect and be appreciative as much as I should have. Combine that with my new path of becoming a Software Developer, and past accomplishments are easily set aside. I’m starting over, and my prior accomplishments don’t have any weight in this new field. But, I feel it is important to never forget. The accomplishments (and the failures) of yesterday have shaped who I am today: an inventive, ambitious, compassionate woman, wife, and mom of two boys, who is patient, productive and persistent. As I reflect, I decide that I do have resolutions: to unlock my creativity more and appreciate the beauty I see daily.
My biography will tell you more about me, and so will my portfolio.
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As I said in an earlier post, I am determined to become a software engineer in June, 2017. Sometimes I find myself looking forward to it, but not being present in the current moment. I have made a conscious decision not to do this! I have this one semester left with students, and need to make the biggest impact I possibly can in that short time. I have decided to do the right thing as far as teaching goes: I am going to incorporate more computer science in my class this semester! I am going to change some of my basic assignments from basic powerpoint or essays to creating a usable website to present the usual information. I will do this in my nith grade physics classes starting at the end of April. So, instead of them sending me a google slides presentation, I will teach them how to use github, teach them about headers, body, and footers, as well as background, font, and text size possibilities. Then I will have them share the link with me! For my engineering classes, I will make sure to code along with them when they are using RobotC in March through May. My personal goal is to create an example of every kind of program project to serve as an example for years to come. This will not only help the students this year, but it will help the students in the upcoming years and help the teacher that takes over my engineering classes once I change careers. Also, both of these plans will help me keep coding during my work day. It will definitely be mutually beneficial!
I just got done adding more work to my portfolio, along with explanations of each area on the portfolio. If you read it, you can see that I am extremely passionate about my career and about doing an excellent job. I have a strong initiative within myself to succeed in both my career and my personal life, and I am looking forward to executing my creativity in programming!
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When I first started this blog, I wasn't entirely thrilled. I felt like my creativity is non-existent, and like my blog would be boring to all who read it.
So I decided to get over it.
This blog is not only for an audience. It is also for me. It is my way of documenting my work and figuring out my own process for coding. I have taught engineering for several years, and I teach kids that they need to find their own way to communicate, document, and finalize processes. The blog is my way. Additionally, it is my way to unlock my creativity. I definitely feel like it has already helped- I am playing with words and scenarios in my head, and coming up with ideas on how to incorporate code more often in my daily schedule.
Unfortunately, this is all I have time to write now. But I am writing this short entry to put out there, on "paper", to the world, that I will keep blogging and be more purposeful with it!
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I spent a few hours last night at Twitter in Boulder for a Python meetup. It was great! One of the best meetups I have been to so far! The first 30 minutes was spent on the beginner's track. The presenter went over some basic Python code for beginners. It was the perfect skill level, not too hard, not too easy. Afterwards, I was asked if I thought it was too advanced, or if they should give more of a beginner's track for people brand new to programming. My suggestion: when someone is brand new to a program but going to a meetup, they sh0ould spend a few hours in Code Academy. It is a great way to learn code, and get a basic background before you meet programmers who do this for a living. I spent several hours on the python code academy site here.
After the beginner's track, people in the group shared job opportunities, and the opportunities were shared on the meetup page too. It was invigorating to hear about all the opportunities in the language. Next, we learned from a man who used NBA data and the python language to track passes around the court. It was extremely interesting! I would love to someday work for one of our local teams analyzing data. My ultimate dream job would be to work for the Rockies or the Nuggets or the Rapids analyzing data for them! That would be awesome! Honestly, though, any job programming would be a dream to me! The last presenter told us about the dat he collected on his own house to determine the efficiency of his air conditioner. The presentation got me thinking about how I can make my home a smart home and put sensors up to collect data on my home. That would be amazing, and so much cheaper than buying something on my own. I am going to start researching what I can do. In the end, I definitely came to realize that going to meetups is an excellent way for me to spend my time!
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I have read a few blogs the last few days that really inspired me. One was sent in the Code Newbies newsletter I received via email. Subscribe to that newsletter here. The title of one blog in this newsletter caught my eye: The Hustle. It was written by Noel Worden, and it is about his fairly quick path to obtaining a job in the field. In this blog, he gives great advice on networking, reading job posts, reaching out when a job looks right, and the importance of creating a personal project. I completely agree with all of these suggestions, and am following his advice already. The blog helped solidify my belief in networking, as well as living and breathing code, in order to finally get the career I want! You can read Noel's blog here.
The second blog I read today was emailed to me by the writer, and it is full of great advice on possible starting salaries for newbies. The blog is written by Diana Pfiel, and I met her last week at a Python meetup. She tells the reader to attend meetups and don't be afraid to get to know people. I liked her suggestion of bringing business cards- I will definitely be printing some cards before my next meetup! You can read her blog at this link.
I also have my own news to share. I have spent the last few days working on a basic website to teach my science and engineering students how to code a webpage using Github. When I first started attending meetups, I felt like Github was the most overwhelming and most under-explained tool for a programmer. Yet, Github is the most effective and most used program for all kinds of developers. I have heard regularly that a potential employer wants to see your Github repositories and your collaborative projects. I decided to dive right in to Github one day and get to know it well, and that is how I created this website. I learned A LOT. Seriously. A LOT. I made mistakes, and learned from them. I wanted to pass my new knowledge on to others, so I decided to create a "How to use Github" website with some basic HTML and several screenshots on how to set up and code a Github site. I am going to use this site to teach my science and engineering students how to Github. Teaching my students how to Github serves a double purpose for me as well. Incorporating code in my current job is a fantastic way for me to get even more coding in during the week. Right now, I am working my job then coming home and coding or researching coding for approximately 30 hours a week. Incorporating code during the workday will help me focus on coding more and more. It is a win-win, because the concepts I can teach the students at school will help them as well, and will possibly attract the diverse students I work with to the programming career field. I shared my site to the Code Newbies on Twitter, and already have had a handful of retweets and likes from their Twitter followers. Here is my original tweet:
@CodeNewbies love your #100daysofcode This is my latest code adventure. It's basic but necessary. Enjoy! https://t.co/eQfpczfXZY— Jessica Messmer (@messmerjessica5) January 16, 2017
There are definitely a few other code projects I can incorporate at school during the work day. One such project is to rewrite the RobotC tutorials I give the students. Right now, the tutorials are incredibly lengthy and full of unnecessary learning. I am going to write a new tutorial that is also a project. I have been teaching for seven years, and have learned that students learn best when they are doing a project. For example, in my algebra based physics class, some teacher teach the math then have the students do a lab. I do the opposite. I have the students do a lab and figure the math out during the lab. This helps them retain the math skills because they actually used is in a relevant way. In engineering, some teachers give the students notes then have them do a project. I do the opposite here as well. I give them the design problem, then in I give them notes before having them research on their own. This is once again allowing the students to see the relevancy in the notes.
Also, I have several students who are using Unity in their video game class, so I decided that I am going to work on Unity along with them. I was talking to several students yesterday, and they would love to work on it more and learn alongside a teacher, so I will be their mentor in this area. In addition to teaching my students Github through my Github website, I will also show them in real time how I code by coding a new site. This new site will be a major improvement to my current Biography/Portfolio website. I will be able to slow down on this new project, and will be more methodical in my code to make it as clean as possible. I fully admit that the code on this website is not as clean as it should be, and I want my second project to be much better.
Please, if you have any suggestions or compliments about the projects I am working on, or the blog links I posted, send me an email at email@example.com or tweet me @messmerjessica5. I'd love to hear from you!
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Or maybe I am a mixture of both? I have a meetup scheduled tonight, and I've been looking forward to it for a while. Earlier in the week, I was a little sick, and was nervous that I'd still be sick today and wouldn't present myself in the way I truly am: energetic and excited to code. I could have easily cancelled my RSVP to the meetup and decided to take a rest, but I didn't. I didn't want to. Today came around, and I feel much better. That brings me to the question: Am I lucky or am I determined?
It would be very easy to say "I'm too tired" when I have a meetup scheduled after work. It would be easy to say "I just want to relax" instead of coding every night after work. It would be easy to say "I'll just play video games with my kids" when I need to get my homework done or when I need to keep learning code. But I don't like easy. Those "easy" thoughts never even cross my mind most of the time. Does that make me lucky? Yes, I am lucky. I am lucky to have been raised with an incredible work ethic, never giving up. I am lucky to have the genetic code that makes me a machine in ways, always working and always learning. I am lucky to have a high amount of energy, and be so incredibly personable that I love meeting new people and networking. So, yes, I am lucky.
But I am also very determined. It takes a special level of love for what you are doing to be this determined. To go home every day and spend your nights and weekends on a second full time job, a second full time job that doesn't pay (yet). The meetup I am scheduled for tonight is a Diversity in Technology Career Day, put on by Flock and Girls Develop It. You can find information on the meetup here. I've been working on my presentation, resume, business card, and "elevator speech" for a few months now, and tonight is the first night I will really get to use all these together.
Wish me luck!
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I have been busy the last few weeks! I was really plugging along in Java, Python, and the Unity Game Engine over the last few weeks. I have learned a lot. The last time I blogged, I was getting ready for the Diversity in Technology Career Day, and it was a huge success. Any time I am out talking software development, and talking about jobs in the field, is a good thing. I am lucky enough to go to a Recruiting Open House this Thursday as well. I am felling so inspired, and have tremendous clarity! I am loving it!
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I just started a class named Mobile Application Development, and my first assignment centered around UI/UX design. I decided to research why some sites have poor design yet still have a lot of traffic. I have always been really confused about sites like Tumblr and Reddit, and why they are so popular when their UI is so....annoying... for lack of a better word. I found an article on Quora that begins to explain it. The article states simply that users do not go to websites because they heard it was pretty, but because it offers something to do and experience. More importantly, sites like Tumblr and Reddit offer addicting content. The Quora article also points to another article named "The Ugly Truth". Please, if you have a minute, go to the article linked here. It is almost a little disturbing to find out that poor designed ads and sites make tons of money and get more clicks from internet users than ones that were better designed.
Emberton, O. (2012, December 8). Why is reddit so famous despite such a boring interface? Retrieved April 9, 2017, from https://www.quora.com/Why-is-reddit-so-famous-despite-such-a-boring-interface
Green. (2010, March 29). The "Ugly" Truth. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from http://www.mrgreen.am/affiliate-marketing/the-ugly-truth/
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I picked up on HTML and CSS really fast, and have created a few websites from scratch fairly quickly. I have also been working with Java for quite a while now, but I have found a love for combining these skills in Android Studio. I really like how Android Studio allows the developer to do layouts like we would in Publisher, yet type out the layouts in XML as we need. I also really enjoy setting up classes and calling methods from my Java files in Android Studio! Now that I have worked extensively in Android Studio, I much prefer it over straight up HTML and CSS coding like I do on this Github webpage. I am feeling very confident in my Android Studio skills. My next steps for learning Android development are: 1) continue working in Android Studio with multiple projects and different layouts. 2) Reach out to the Yellow Ribbon founders to see if I can work on an app for them. They have been saying for years that they need one! 3) Reach out to Kara at Girls Develop It to see if my skills and experience can be put to use anywhere. I enjoy spreading my passion for coding to others, especially to other females.
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I started working on the Yellow Ribbon app a few days ago, and it is pretty much complete. In case you don't know what Yellow Ribbon is, it is a non-profit organization for suicide awareness and prevention. The Yellow Ribbon cards are what the foundation is centered around- people have the cards, then hand them to someone if they feel they need to talk or are feeling suicidal. You can see their website and story here. I still have a solid list of things to do... I need to get image files from the founders to replace the fuzzy ones I have. I need to fix my email form on the "share your story" page. I need to fix the text boxes on the history page. I need to make sure the sharing portion of the app is clear- that a person can click and share the yellow ribbon cards with their friends via social media, text, or email (I think I need to incorporate some kind of pop up that instructs the user how to do this). I need to finish the "connect with us" page, adding their social media sites. I need to streamline the sharing aspect I do have on the app- I need it to be easier for the user to send an SOS message out to their friends, and possibly their location as well. I am also going to connect soon with the website creator, Chris. Him and I will work on some form of pop-ups that tell the user inspirational quotes, coping mechanisms, and facts. I also need to add in a button for the "how to talk to..." pages. On these pages, the user learns how to reach out if they feel like they are going to harm themselves, or teaches them how to talk to a suicidal person, or how to talk to a family member or young adult about suicide in general. I am logging off the computer for the night, but I plan on getting up early tomorrow morning and working on the app some more. Please, reach out to me if you have any ideas about the app or anything you think the app needs!
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