Hey guys! There were roughly 12,000 attendees at the MA Conference for Women last week and I had the wonderful opportunity to be one of these attendees on behalf of my company! (I am an associate software engineer for those who may not know.)
I took the train into Boston and was at the convention center all day long with booths to see, sessions to attend, and people to meet. When we arrived, we received attendee “swag bags” filled with snacks, a water bottle, the event guidebook notebook, and other miscellaneous items.
Tips on how to make the most of the event:
luckily I was warned of these, i’m now queen of the event
Arrive early: by 7am to head into the line or else you’ll have to spend time outside in the cold waiting to get through security and this way you’ll be one of the first to grab breakfast (free) and hit the booths down in the exhibition hall
Skip the coat check–bring a warm enough but lighter jacket to carry or else you’ll have to be in line twice and there’s sooooo many coats in the coat check
Use the womens restroom: I know, like isn’t that obvious? They actually convert a bunch of the mens restrooms into womens restrooms for the event, but the permanent womens restrooms have a lot more stalls. I accidentally waited in line for one of the converted restrooms for a long time only to find there were only 3 usable stalls and the other half was urinals!
Sinek focused on the infinite game: explaining how learning from our competitor and using what we can study from them could help us become better ourselves and get stronger (and vice versa).
Southworth told her story of mental health and how coding not only helped herself but enabled her to help others too.
Shahidi is asked a question and answers with how she was taught at an early age about financial independence and how to be smart about money; saving it, spending it, and donating it.
Exhibition Hall (ft. sponsor booths, small business marketplace, and roundtable discussions)
So. Many. Things. Being. Given. Away.
And so many photo opportunities!
Essentially, I came home with (on top of the swag bag stuff) a T Shirt, schrunchie, button pin, mirror, mints and lip balm, crystal nail file, travel brush and sewing kit in one, pens, magazine, candy, and more!
Unplugged: Reclaiming Balance in a Connected World (POE)
This was an interesting panel session on unplugging from the social media world, turning 24/7 into 24/6.
Tiffany Schlain (filmmaker, founder of The Webby Awards, author) talks about a “tech sabbath” of sorts that her family has done for almost 10 years now where they unplug from their devices for one 24-hour period a week and focus on the present.
Mary Laura Philpott (author of I Miss You When I Blink) catches attention from the Type-As of the room, those who love lists and getting things done once they’re started. It’s her journey of accepting that our time is our time and it’s okay to take it back to do what we want.
Stephanie Humphrey (technology and lifestyle content creator) discusses how she tries to unplug even with a career that consists of being on social media. Setting time for planning in one period and then scheduling posts is a must.
The Likability Trap: Women, Leadership and the Double-Bind
Alicia Menendez, asked us a question: do you want to be likable or do you want to be successful? Her answer is to ALWAYS. CHOOSE. SUCCESS. People will always either like you or not like you for various reasons and it should not hold you back from reaching your goals.
Yvonne Garcia,Minda Harts, and Erica Keswinjoined Menendez in discussing their own experiences of having to choose between being liked or being successful in their workplace and the feedback they have sometimes received from it.
All of the women involved in the keynotes, panel sessions, and other discussions have all done something to be recognized as leaders, mentors, or just those to look up to. During the keynote luncheon, we also were lucky to hear from Malala Yousafzai, Tara Westover, Megan Rapinoe, and others.
Yousafzai spoke of her journey that most of us have heard about (if you need a refresher) and how her father continued to push for her education when extremists who took over their town banned girls from school and how it has developed her into the strong woman she is today. She continues to fight for 12 years of education for girls in countries who are less able to receive the opportunity.
Westover joked about how her job is to be a professional narcissist, telling her story about how she was raised in a family that did not believe that the government, education, and other things were genuinely real (instead seen as a conspiracy). She eventually went on to being enrolled and educated at the age of 17 and then went on to get her PhD.
Rapinoe was her authentic self with Kara Swisher; it was highly entertaining to listen to them discuss important topics like how Rapinoe was fighting for equal pay among professional soccer players (ex. how the womens soccer team is not compensated the same as the mens soccer team), the upcoming election, and various other topics.
While leaving the convention center, I realized that I was feeling so empowered, a feeling that I had not felt in a while. It makes me want to continue to chase after it all.
I’m hoping to get the chance to continue attending The MA Conference for Women and other events like this! The 2020 Grace Hopper Celebration for Women Technologists is also on my radar and I can’t wait to launch into this potential opportunity!
Hey guys, it’s a weird feeling to be wrapping up my last semester in my undergraduate career in computer science (and sociology). For this final installment of my AMPATH sprint series, I will just go over the general overview of what went on for my team.
Most of our updates went onto our PowerPoint presentation, which is going to be presented on May 15th, 2019. My team and I are looking forward to presenting the overall process of our group’s learning and working process, the many lessons we learned, our advice for future students, the work we tried to implement, and various other technical aspects of our project.
We decided that on top of the search bar work, it is also a priority to organize the git repository so it can be better organized and an open work environment for other classes. I think this is important especially when new people come in and cannot efficiently locate and access the files they need. As someone who was once new to an organization that had a lot of different projects and files to sort through, I believe that this is very considerate of the team to go with this.
With some limitations my team had to face, we worked around it to determine how we should move forward. The end result is pretty much a search bar that is attached to the toolbar. It cannot currently be live tested due to there being no backend but it can definitely be done in the future under certain circumstances.
It was interesting being able to observe how much planning you can start with but still end up having to take detours, starting new paths completely, or sometimes even needing to take U-turns.
I thought it would be important to pull some of the advice for future students from our PowerPoint and include them in this wrap-up:
Point out and address problems with technology right away because others around you might have the same problem(s) so you can solve them collectively
Do all team implementations in a separate component based on what you will be working on
Merge your work constantly to the master branch so each team can have the updated changes
A pattern I am noticing in a lot of teams or group projects is that not everything is going to work out in ways that you expected or were hoping for but you learn to move as a shifting team to make progress and continue growth.
Overall, I’d say I learned an important life lesson from this: if I am to contribute extra time on top of my technology career in the future to work on side projects, it will be a challenge to allocate time if it is a group initiative. I also learned that even when we try to communicate everything there is still more room for miscommunication, so there may be no such thing as over-communicating. I am happy to say that we always tried our best to move forward in all ways!
In this final installment of my individual apprenticeship patterns, I think an important one to write about would be Find Mentors. To summarize the main point of this one, I would say that it encourages people to observe their role and their surroundings to see where they can find the most value from learning or use their resources. It encourages you to look at things from one level back instead of blindly jumping into something right away.
Personally, I have been in a role where I had to figure out a lot of things that could have just been taught to me. I quickly learned that I would be able to ask other junior developers how they managed to learn things on their own and it helped me a lot. If other junior developers were not available, then I would work my way up to people who had the most recent on-boarding experience and hope that they could recall the process I was currently going through. For the most part, that worked out well!
Thanks to this pattern, I thought it was useful to think about and remind ourselves that even though our mentors will know a lot more about us, they still do not know everything. They are still continuing to learn as much as we are in their own careers.
I thought I should update this blog to throw in a little hidden announcement if anyone actually reads these that I will be learning at a company with about 100 peers going through the same thing. This makes me feel a lot more confident knowing that I will have a designated support system around me and have mentors around.
Overall, I agreed with the pattern. This is because I can testify with my personal experiences how useful it was to be able to utilize my resources including being able to ask mentors questions or just find my own. A common question I had for my interviewers was, “Will I have a mentor or support system along the way throughout my career progression?” Personally, it is important for me to have a designated place to go for support because it just takes one more worry away about having to ask somebody a question.
It is now time to conclude my individual apprenticeship pattern series! I hope you have at least learned one thing from it because I have learned so many things.
Over the past two weeks, my team continued to discuss what we are working on as usual. We have come to the conclusion that we will add our Search Bar component once there are updates and more of a base to work off of. This was concluded after we realized that the process would be much more efficient. The parameters and details on the search bar would be harder to figure out without making up a base anyways.
Some advice for others who may be working on the same thing would be to try and collaborate or discuss potential orders between groups if one thing may depend on another. That would make it much simpler from the start if possible so there aren’t any clashes or time wasted on doing extra work that could have just been done by one group or team.
In the meantime, I did a little more research on the AMPATH system out of curiosity since we are going to be building onto their work. I found out that there are 500+ care sites in Kenya! It is interesting to think about the potential impact our work may make on how AMPATH carries out their process. Their initiative reminds me of what Enactus at Worcester State strives for when they work on projects to help people or organizations in the community “sustain their own success, connect them with universal health insurance, train next generation medical professionals, and research new breakthroughs and best practices.” Being able to help a healthcare organization is pretty meaningful, especially as a project through my capstone.
A way to tie our 348 course (Software Process Management) with our 448 (Capstone) course would be through now being able to use Travis CI and Heroku. It was interesting being able to experience using these in class and help our peers use it and now be able to use them in our capstone. I think the practice we got was nice because I found that my peers and I were more comfortable with following steps that were written out and explained to us instead of just “going for it.” I have also noticed that our 348 course helped us pay more attention to how we interact with others, which is very useful for the future when we will be working in teams of developers to create or update new technologies. One more thing which I found useful was seeing Travis CI load, and the race against time when it came to classmates pushing code at the same time; it made me push myself to be a little faster while at the same time not be sloppy about what I was putting into my code.
Overall, we discussed what we will do in these coming weeks as the semester comes to a close. The project we are planning on presenting will feature a search bar which we plan to implement by then. I am excited to see what we end up with in terms of helping AMPATH and their healthcare system!
For my second-to-last individual apprenticeship pattern, I have decided to go with something a little more relevant to my current situation–relating to starting my career post-graduation.
The Draw Your Own Map pattern caught my attention right away with “we might come across situations or colleagues or people in the society who will try to prove that programming will become an unsustainable activity as time passes by.” Throughout my job search process, I asked questions and requested advice from all different kinds of people across different fields (and especially within computer science) on how they knew what job they wanted to start with when given opportunities.
In the end, I must choose what I think is best for me in terms of what I’m looking for. I’ve finally came up with a list and that includes:
Having solid mentorship
Proper training (no room for imposter syndrome)
A company that tries to stay on top of new technology
Work-life balance that allows me to continue doing all the things I love to do outside of work and travel often
The Draw Your Own map pattern is very encouraging, reminding us that we have options elsewhere if we feel that our current company is hindering our learning and personal growth. I found that this pattern was interesting because I part of my decision-making process was “what if I am ____ amount of time into my first career and realize that I do not like what I am doing?” How would I move on out of that role to figure out what I may like better in terms of my day-to-day tasks?
The activity to list three jobs that I could do following my next was was really helpful to visualize future career possibilities. I know that we can always learn on the job and at new jobs but it is also important to build up your skills that can be transferred in the first place.
The pattern has helped me feel more confident in the decision I made to start out in software engineering. I will build up my skills starting here and then more onward from there!
For this sprint wrap-up, we discussed how we are trying to move on based on our team planning meeting. One of my teammates, Kristi, along with Professor Wurst, tried to check out an idea they had and continued to bounce ideas back and forth with one another until they came to a conclusion.
Overall, I’d say we are continuing to plan out our next steps and work on something new. A new development was a suggestion by one of my teammates based on what we already have to work with. The suggestion was that we should wait for the other group to push what they need and then we can seamlessly build upon it. If the other group (who are working on the sidebar and navigation bar) add their work, it would help us have a better base.
We have to carefully analyze how the components are going to go together and get through to make sure that they are not just getting thrown in. If we plan things out more, it will make the process more efficient. I think taking a step back to look through angular was helpful because it allowed us to learn something new at our own pace. It’s nice to not have to rush on what we are doing; especially when the concepts are newer. This will help us deliver something even greater for our client, who is Greg from AMPATH.
There is also the approaching team presentation that we are going to be focusing on to explain our work and what is happening. I think it will mainly be focused on the search bar and our experience with learning angular or the concepts that introduced us to it.
On top of what we have been doing, I have been continuing looking up resources to learn more for our project. I think Codecademy is a good reference for learning AngularJS, https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-angularjs. It is actually one of my preferred sites for reviewing programming languages to sharpen up on things I may have forgotten or for learning new ones in general.
It has been a great experience being able to work with a solid team so far this semester. I wonder how much we will accomplish by the end of it! I think learning about communicating within a team is so important, especially since we will all be graduating very soon and entering roles that require consistent communication.
Overall, the only thing I would say I would have proceeded to do differently is come up with another way to “work smarter not harder” when it came to figuring out the process for the search bar. There were not necessarily any fails because our continued work dealt more with the planning behind the work instead of testing to see what worked for us. I am very excited to continue moving forward with this project in the few weeks we have left!
Some advice for others who are going to work on things includes:
Having an open mind on what they would like to do because things are always changing
Understanding what the client wants is important because at the end of the day, they will be the ones who need to use this software
Try to make sure teammates are on the same page with you on what is happening that week
Hey guys! This sprint retrospective will cover what the WSU Coders Without Borders team has done from the week before spring break and up until this week.
As the project is propelling forward even more than before–due to us having more concrete plans to begin working on the project, it has been an exciting transition. We saw our options from Greg’s wireframes and explanations through his YouTube videos. From there, we created Zeplin accounts so we could visually understand and remember certain parts of the app in progress.
Since it was my first time using Zeplin, I wanted to add a little review of it. As someone who loves to organize things, I found that it is a great tool to have for sorting projects and handing off designs and style-guides to other users. It seems like an effective way to share ideas directly with people.
The overall WSU team now has a GitHub section for dividing up the components and issues we will be working on. So far, my team is going to tackle the search bar and everything else it would entail to create. It was nice being able to collaborate amongst one another to find a component that we agreed to work on (and the fact that a few other components had already been assigned to some teams helped our decision be made faster).
From there, we were figuring out what we need to do and how we can get things done. We discussed some potential ideas with Professor Wurst and from there continued to brainstorm for the search bar. There is nothing that comes to my mind that I would have chose to proceeded differently with if I could go back.
We are continuing our meetings as they have been scheduled and are actively participating in our stand-ups. I like being able to scroll through the log of my team’s answers because it shows our progression throughout the semester as well as serving as a reminder of when we did something specifically. I am happy to say that my team does not seem to have run into any issues or potential miscommunication among one another. It really shows how we are all working to achieve something together and effectively communicate what is happening.
In this sprint retrospective I also wanted to discuss how what we learned may be applied in other situations like in the workforce. We have to make sure we are checking in with teammates to have them understand the project more and be able to express their opinions and concerns when they arise. Similar to the bystander effect in psychology, if there is no direct communication between members when it comes to getting things done, how will there be any progression versus just observing what is happening? All it takes is being comfortable to ask different individuals if they have anything to share or add to the open conversation.
Overall, I am excited to move forward and see what is in store for me and my team during these weeks up until the end of the semester!
As we have a few weeks left in the semester, I wanted to discuss the more creative apprenticeship patterns. This time I’m going to describe Craft Over Art, which is basically when a solution to a client’s problem can be solved with something that could work…or we could take it and go above and beyond. It’s being more innovative than just settling for a solution just to have something.
I found that the pattern is interesting because it emphasized the importance of how the things built for customers can still be beautiful but must always be useful. If it strays away from being useful, then it no longer counts as the craft.
I also found it to be thought-provoking because it brought up how people are truly in charge of how a problem gets solved. No one can force you to code something a certain way if they do not know a way to solve it on their own, which is why your role exists in the first place.
The pattern has caused me to change the way I think about my intended profession because your work can still reflect you in terms of creativity. As a person, I think I am more on the creative side and incorporating more ideas into creating something for people sounds pretty cool. If I had to follow a super rigorous structure, I may feel limited in what I can do to produce work that makes me happier.
The one thing I have to disagree with in the pattern is the part where it mentions that someone is suddenly no longer “part of the craft” if they deviate a little further. Who sets these boundaries? I do not want people to feel like they are not “enough” to be considered a real craftsman or whichever term it is referred it as just because they were being extra.
Overall, I appreciated the action section which encouraged people to reflect on what projects they worked on or situations they may have found themselves in where they chose creativity over usefulness. At the moments where I have personally done so, I had felt more proud of my work, because I knew it was uniquely mine.
From recent conversations with friends and professionals I’ve had genuine one-on-one discussions with, a common concern people have is whether they will continue to actually enjoy what they do. Today I’m going to discuss the Sustainable Motivations apprenticeship pattern. This pattern pretty much goes over scenarios people may run into throughout their careers in technology. There will be great days where people may be amazed that they are getting paid to create things and there will be rough days where people may be doubting if it is the right profession for them at all.
The points brought up remind me of a recent article from the New York Times titled Wealthy, Successful, and Miserable. What happens when the new-ness of what started as an exciting role to join in a company wears off and you are left off with unsettled feelings? It is up to individuals to keep going until they find what they love again or shift what they are doing a little to stimulate something new.
I like how the pattern encourages people to come up with a list of things that motivate them. It then tells them to reflect on what those things means or if there is a noticeable pattern from the things they have chosen. Having a list like this around to remind people of what they are working for is a reassuring way to keep them going. It reminds me of a post on LinkedIn I saw where someone kept a sticky note on their monitor screen that just had a number like “-$237.25” because it was to remind them of how much they had in their bank account when they started their job.
The pattern has caused me to think about the way I intend to work as someone who constantly likes to change things up or is not afraid of change. I do not disagree with anything in the patterns as it tells us to keep pushing and persevering by thinking about The Long Road, which is another apprenticeship pattern.
Overall, I think people interested in this pattern should read the NYT article I linked as well because it gives insight on the difference it makes when people do something that makes their work feel more meaningful.