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January Lightning Talks Recap

We had our January event this past Tuesday. This month was a lightning talk event with the theme of “Your first developer job.” Turnout was great, and it was our biggest event yet! We got to meet so many new faces ☺️

Thank you to our sponsor for the evening, RedShelf. RedShelf was founded with a lofty objective: to improve education through product innovation. They build products to make textbooks affordable and accessible and recently surpassed 1.5 million students using their products. We can definitely get behind a company whose mission aligns so closely with ours and is looking to improve education for all students.

We have to give an extra special thank you to RedShelf who helped make this event our most inclusive and accessible one yet. They recently re-did their presentation setup with a projector, microphones, and speakers distributed throughout the area which was perfect for our lightning talks. They designated an all gender restroom for our attendees. And we had a build-your-own taco bar so everyone could accommodate their dietary needs. 🙌 Thank you so much!

Pamela Bergson

Pamela Bergson introduced the night with her lightning talk, “I Only Cried in the Bathroom.” She shared how she transitioned from a neurobiolgist into mobile development, and now she is a Mobile Engineering Manager at Sittercity (shoutout to previous sponsors!). Her advice for how to prepare for an interview included listening to podcasts, reading blog posts, and watching videos so you can demonstrate up-to-date knowledge of current tech. Her advice for preparing for your first day at a new job included getting a notebook so you can write everything down, learn and know Git, and get a password manager.

To follow along with her slides, they can be found here.

Zeke Nierenberg

After Pamela, Zeke Nierenberg shared his talk, “What should I look for in my first software engineering job?” Zeke broke down his approach to evaluating companies and job offers during your job search. His four main categories were culture, company, engineering, and offer. He also shared a Google sheet to go along with his talk so you can compare and contrast different companies and see how they stack up according to what you value.

To follow along with his slides, they can be found here.

Fen Slattery

Next up was Fen Slattery with their talk “How to Differentiate Yourself Using Empathy.” They talked about why differentiating yourself is so important. You need to stand out and prove you have a unique value proposition. Doing so is empowering and will make potential employers remember you. So how do you find the thing you care about, your value proposition?

  1. Remember why you wanted to be a dev
  2. Find your people
  3. Look inward

Then write about it, speak about it, and code about it!

To follow along with their slides, they can be found here.

‘Tine Zekis

‘Tine Zekis spoke next about “Career Changers and Impostor Syndrome: Leveraging Your Unique Strengths.” Career changers are especially prone to imposter syndrome. It’s hard to be new, and there are times when you feel like you don’t fit in. Imposter syndrome feeds off a deficit mindset, so let’s ditch that. Don’t think about what you haven’t done yet. You bring a unique experience to your team that no one else has! Find the skills your previous experience gives you that other developers don’t have. ‘Tine provided some great examples of skills that you can bring from your previous experience into your development job.

To follow along with her slides, they can be found here.

Shamyle Ghazali

After ‘Tine, Shamyle Ghazali shared his entertaining talk “To Foo or Tofu - How possessing the mindset of bean curd can put you on the path to programming excellence.” He coined the term “tofu developers.” As an entry level developer, be versatile like tofu: keep an open mind; try to learn from everyone around you; look for patterns in the codebase; absorb the vocabulary of the domain you’re working in; and seek out feedback from your coworkers. You should look to hire tofu developers! They bring nutrition to your team and enhance its flavor!

To follow along with his slides, they can be found here.

Jess Unrein

Jess Unrein gave us a “Three Things to Learn the Hard Way” and reminded us to focus on the fundamentals. Don’t get bogged down in existing tools, make your life a little harder now so it’s easier later. Ver 3 main takeaways were to use command line Git, try to solve problems with raw SQL (instead of relying too heavily on an ORM), and run your code early and often. We also loved the other nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout the talk, like not using “wizard” and “automagically” because code isn’t magic. It’s tech, and you can learn it and master it.

To follow along with ver slides, they can be found here.

Brittney Braxton

“Journaling as a Dev” by Brittney Braxton was next, and she walked us through how she uses journaling in her career. Can we honestly say our jobs are clearly defined? Evenly distributed? And provides promotable opportunities? Probably not… We can use journaling to keep track of team retros, setting goals, and performance reviews to help with that. Brittney gave us some really great tips for documenting these things and showed us examples of what it could look like in your journal.

To follow along with her slides, they can be found here.

Carly Ho

And wrapping up the evening was Carly Ho with “The Other Side of the Table: An Interviewer’s Tips for Getting Your First Dev Job.” Carly started her talk off by telling us that as an interviewer, she really wants to hire you. Interviewers are “not weighing your soul.” 🙂 When applying for a junior position, the interviewer is not expecting you to be an expert. You are there to learn and grow. Interviewers are looking for clear thought processes and communication, attention to detail, good judgment on whats important, and fundamentals. She ended her talk with a great reminder for all of us in the room

If you don’t get picked, don’t get discouraged - if you’re being considered at all, it’s not that anyone thought you were bad, just that the timing wasn’t right or that there were a lot of good candidates.

To follow along with her slides, they can be found here.

Thank you to everyone who came out for the event. It was so amazing and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!