Dev Chats: Libby Schumacher-Knight

 
Libby, teacher and now web dev!

Libby, teacher and now web dev!

 

Introduce yourself! Who are you? Where do you work?

Hey all, I’m Libby. I am currently working at Flick Electric Co as a web developer.

 

Who or what got you into programming?

Information Technology was my second teaching subject and in 2014 (I was mostly a PE teacher, but was also teaching some Digital Technologies classes) we had to start teaching Python to our Year 12 classes. I took an Intro to Programming paper via Canterbury University in the first semester which I enjoyed and did pretty well at.

In 2014 I also found out about Enspiral Dev Academy. In 2015 I decided to take a year out of teaching and completed the boot camp in the middle of the year. Unfortunately the school I had been teaching at wasn’t in a position to take me back on as a Digital Technologies teacher so I started looking for a junior web developer role. In October 2015 I started as a junior web developer at Flick Electric Co.

 

How did the transition from teaching go? Did you find any of the skills translate?

I felt the transition from teaching went well. The ability to work away at a problem was easily transferable, as was being able to work by myself.

One of the biggest assets from teaching is being good at interpersonal skills or core skills. I think being good at core skills (let’s get away from calling them “soft” skills, because let's be realistic many people in tech actually find them really hard to be good at) is a valuable asset to have in the tech industry.

One of the biggest issues I had to deal with early on was imposter syndrome and coming up with ways to handle this. It seems that nearly everyone, regardless of how they get into tech, has to learn how to deal with it at some stage.

 

How do you think Enspiral Dev Academy (NZ Dev Bootcamp) prepared you for a career in software? Compared to say, University or Polytechnic/Community College?

I think Dev Academy prepared me pretty well for a career in web development. I learnt the basics of a couple of languages, a few frameworks, how a web application works and more.

The part that Dev Academy doesn't cover much of is the computer science side of software development. Dev Academy focuses on web development, not software development or computer science, so there is knowledge that I lacked coming out of the course that I have learnt since (and am still learning!)

What I valued most from being at Dev Academy was the focus on learning, not just technical things but the Engineering Empathy curriculum as well. This part of the course helps people learn to work together, have empathy for yourself and others. Having been working in the industry now for nearly two years, this is going to be fundamental to being able to grow the tech industry in a sustainable and diverse way.

 

What do you think Employers could do to help with people like you, who transitioned to a career in Tech?

Firstly, don’t actually hire “junior” / new staff unless you can support them to do their best. It is hard enough changing careers and moving into tech and if you find yourself somewhere where there is limited support and resources to help you development, it can make it really hard.

People who have changed careers have lots of skills and experience to bring to the company / team. Work with people to figure out what these are and how they can be utilised. This will help new staff feel that they are contributing positively to the company, even if they are still pretty “junior” with regard to tech / writing code.



What books/resources would you recommend?

I have realised that I don’t learn that well from reading books. What works for me is video tutorials or online written tutorials that are reasonably short.

While completing Phase 0 at Dev Academy we used Team Treehouse, which is a subscription based online video tutorial site. I really enjoyed it. It has heaps of content and it uses a points system.

This worked well during Phase 0 as I had the time to do a lot. However, since starting a job I have found subscription sites frustrating, as they turn out a bit like gym memberships - pay monthly and hardly use.

I discovered Udemy a few months ago, which again is online video tutorials but not subscription based. You pay a one off amount and then you have access to it forever. They are reasonably expensive but often have deals. Definitely don’t pay full price! And there is a huge range of content.

I have found Wes Bos’s courses fantastic. He is a javascript developer / teacher and has paid and free courses. One of his recent free ones is JavaScript30.

I really enjoyed and got a lot out of his Command Line Power User course.

 

Finally, make your shoutout! What would you like the readers to go have a look at?


If you are interested in a more in depth read of my time at Dev Academy, go have a look at my blog - https://schuknight.wordpress.com/.

I’m into helping and encouraging others to get into tech so have a look at http://railsgirls.com/wellington and https://djangogirls.org/wellington/. They are both running events before the end of this year.

Also, have a look at Kiwi Ruby, the first New Zealand ruby conference. Being held in Wellington at the start of November. Follow https://twitter.com/KiwiRubyConf to keep update to date. And a big shout out to all those organising it! You are all fab!