Ask Me Anything (almost)
First things first what the heck is this
Hello, I get a lot of the same questions pretty regularly. Here's a list of answers for you. If you have a question, make an issue for it. If I close said issue, don't be hurt, it means that either the question has been answered, or... I just don't want to answer it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I'll answer most questions in those issues, but if they come up often enough, I'll add it to the FAQs below.
- Do you have a CS degree? Do you regret it?
- Should I work for a big company or a small company for my first job?
- Will you be my mentor?
- What mechanical keyboard should I buy?
- What keyboard things did you design?
- What editor do you use?
- What font do you use for coding?
- What tech do you use at your desk?
- Why did you make todometer when there are so many to-do apps that already exist?
- What inspired you to learn how to code?
- What advice do you have for those who want to get into STEM?
- What is a typical day like for you as a remote engineer?
- Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
- Have you experienced any sort of discrimination as a woman in tech?
- Do you have any thoughts on work/life balance?
- Where do you get your inspiration for your videos?
- Do you do angel investing?
Do you have a CS degree? Do you regret it?
Yes, from Iowa State University. I don't regret it at all, and loved going there. It's different for everyone though, so I won't tell you to get one.
Should I work for a big company or a small company for my first job?
Large companies are really good at teaching you. They'll make sure you learn what you need to be productive for whichever teams they put you on. Small companies are great for career development and applying learnings. I personally prefer small companies, but some people prefer large companies. I'd say it's more important to pursue a company culture you want than a size.
Will you be my mentor?
No, but thank you for asking! I'm a very strong believer in building professional relationships that lead to mentorship, and not asking someone to be your mentor upfront. I do have an awesome Patreon Discord Community though where we advise each other, hang out, and learn together. If you are looking for something like that, I'm biased, but it's my favorite little corner of the internet.
What mechanical keyboard should I buy?
There's so many out there. I recommend reading Isabela's article first and do your research. Drop is a great spot for buying keyboards and supplies, and so is The Key Dot Company, keeb.io, NovelKeys, Omnitype, Pimp My Keyboard, and Kono Store. Figure out the budget and size you want and go from there. You can spend as little as $30 and as much as over $1000, depending on the things you want in a keyboard!
What keyboard things did you design?
I designed these keycap sets!
What editor do you use?
Currently VSCode. I also like vim.
What font do you use for coding?
What tech do you use at your desk?
I try to keep this Amazon list fairly updated (that's a referral link, full disclosure). I also use a mousepad I made myself, and a monitor stand I made myself.
Why did you make todometer when there are so many to-do apps that already exist?
I wanted to trick myself into being productive by gamifying my tasks. I love playing games where I can aim for a perfect score, and I love it when I'm completing all of my tests in a dev environment and I get to see that green "SUCCESS" message. So, the point behind todometer is to give you a small reward for completing your tasks everyday. I wanted it to be on my desktop (not just hiding behind a tab or something in the browser), prominently, so that I'd be forced to pay attention to it, and I wanted it to just work really well without any major frills. I built it originally just for myself, and now that it's out and open source, the developer community is able to improve on it for themselves, too.
What inspired you to learn how to code?
I had a chance encounter with a neighbor when I walked home from school in 8th grade. I heard them say, "check out my website," and I didn't realize you could have your own website. From there I just scoured the internet teaching myself everything I could about making them!
What advice do you have for those who want to get into STEM?
Keep experimenting and learning until you find something that you love. Don't compare yourself to others, because everyone's experience is different!
What is a typical day like for you as a remote engineer?
I've worked at remote companies for a little while now, and the story is pretty much the same for big and small teams. I typically start my day with some breakfast, go to my office to work (I don't often have a ton of meetings, but maybe 1-3 a day), spend non-meeting time coding, writing blog posts, making videos, or doing code/content reviews, stop work, then spend my evenings playing video games, watching movies, playing music, or drinking boba tea with friends.
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
Being a good communicator is the most important thing. Obviously being a solid coder and being willing to pick up and learn new technologies is good, but communication is #1. What that looks like in a developer, to me, is:
- Willingness to admit when they don't know something, or are wrong. If they are approached with a difficult problem that needs more research, or is out of their area of expertise, how do they respond? If they've done something incorrectly, do they get defensive, or do they try to learn from it?
- Ability to teach and mentor others. There's no use in having a senior developer on your team if they can't explain to those less senior how they approach ideas and issues, because eventually that will just hold the whole team hostage to their continuing to do work. No company wants that!
Have you experienced any sort of discrimination as a woman in tech?
I've definitely encountered all sorts of negative stereotypes and interactions. At hackathons I've offered to help a team, and they'll reply, "oh, I'm looking for help from an engineer," assuming I'm not one. I've spoken out against inappropriate behavior, and have been doxxed and harassed online. I've been told plainly and directly by a manager that my negative interactions with coworkers were "because I'm a woman" with a shrug. These sorts of interactions suck, a ton. I certainly haven't had the worst of experiences, either. That being said, the only way these sorts of things get fixed are if there's more visibility for women (and other minority categories!) in tech, and more public support for us. All I can really say to those considering pursuing this industry is: It's worth it. The financial stability, the creative outlet, the logical thinking, the chance to consistently learn, and the inspiring people are just a small handful of reasons to join in and stick with it. It's a really fun career path, and I wouldn't trade it if given the chance!
Do you have any thoughts on work/life balance?
Yes. I like it. Work shouldn't be your life.
Where do you get your inspiration for your videos?
Honestly, I just kind of collect song lyrics that I think would be fun if I added a dev "twist" to them, and if I think of a pun or something on any given day I try to write it down right away. Some ideas I stew on for a couple days (or weeks or months!), and some are spur of the moment immediate ones.
Do you do angel investing?
I do! I'm still kind of a noob at it but I've invested both my own money and do scouting with a couple firms. I love investing in developer tools and underrepresented minority-driven companies.