Episode 12 – Tracy Lee

Is it possible to jump into software development without any formal education or prior coding experience? Find out in Episode 12.

Meet Tracy Lee. Tracy has a background in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. About a year and a half ago Tracy Lee decided to try her hand at coding. More specifically, she wanted to learn all about the Javascript Framework known as Ember. Join us and find out how she’s doing and how she got involved in software development.

Tracy’s Bio:

Tracy’s passion for JavaScript began with the love of a Tomster, the emberJS mascot. She loves the ember framework, the concept of convention over configuration, and the easy to use ember-cli. Tracy loves exploring new technologies, frameworks, libraries, and open source projects such as Angular, React, Node, and learning ES2015 syntax.

Tracy organizes Modern Web UI on her free time, is a speaker, advisor, author, and serial entrepreneur and serves as Founder & CEO at Wingman. She is also the CEO of Dishcrawl and has helped scale the company into 250 cities with over 180 people across the world.

Tracy has helped build 7+ companies in the past 12 years and has a marketing background from SJSU. Tracy is well versed in building companies from the ground up, social media marketing, and growth hacking for companies at various stages.

Please say hi to Tracy on Twitter.

Episode Highlights and Show Notes:

Tracy: I started out with an interest in Tomster, the mascot for Ember. I collected the various Tomsters from other Ember communities and traded them with others within the Ember community. This helped initiate further interest in Ember, which prompted the desire to learn the Ember framework.  I find the challenges associated with learning javascript to be fun and gratifying.

Tracy: I enjoy building and taking part in communities. In fact, I recently joined the Board of Hacker Dojo, a local hacker space in Mountain View. I’ve organized modern web UI, which is a meet up focused on exploring next-gen standards, frameworks, tools, and techniques. I have also been involved with other entrepreneurs and investors. I recently started a website called Mentor Hacked.

Tracy: I like to watch Ember videos online while working out at the gym. I find Ember easy to learn. I like it for its convention over configuration manner and because with the CLI you really don’t have to think about it.

Tracy: I did not study computer programming at all in a formal environment. I just took two classes and solicited the help of others. I have been a serial entrepreneur for the past 12 yrs. I have been in the tech industry working with tech startups for 8 yrs.

Arsalan: The key is to never be afraid to ask for help. But, at the same time, remember that everyone’s time is valuable. So, don’t take it too personally if you don’t get the right answer right away, or you are asked to look it up, read the documents, or to go ask someone else like on Stackoverflow. While it may or may not be the first person you encounter, there is always someone who is happy to help you.

Tracy: There are things that new developers can do right away and be helpful to people so that others are more willing to return the favor. You could work with open source documentation, fix pieces that are missing, edit an HBS file. Even simple tasks and corrections can be very helpful within the community.

Arsalan: One source is GitHub’s Pull Requests, that offers a mentorship for new developers. If you come across a document that looks like it might need an edit, you can do the edit and submit it as a pull request form. Then, if it is incorrect, they will let you know and will not accept it. If you continue doing things like this you will end up with a lot of contributions.

Arsalan: With everything that you have going on, where is the time to contribute and what is the motivation?

Tracy: Software development is exciting and comparable to playing a  game if you like building things. Learning coding was initially only intended to be a short-term project, but the more I got into it, the more eye-opening and enjoyable it became. Learning how to code has also enabled me to enhance my business skills and to be able to have a better working relationship with developers.

Arsalan: Developers need to be left to do their jobs with uninterrupted time. Fewer distractions can mean more concentration, which leads to improved production.

Arsalan: You do not have a job as a software developer, nor do you plan to get a job as a developer. Yet, you are putting in all of this time to learn and develop your coding skills. What is the end game? What do you get out of software development?

Tracy: I get to be empowered. I no longer have to wait for someone else to develop something for me if it is something that I can do myself. It also helps me in business as well.

Tracy: From a business perspective, I have learned how to view the hiring of new developers as well. Instead of choosing a developer based on personality, you can go to GetHub and see some of their code, you can ask about their skills, or etc. Having the ability to view a new developer’s code is more interesting and beneficial than just hiring someone that you know little to nothing about.

Arsalan: As a new developer, if you have the ability to create your own projects or work on other projects so that you can show proof of your skills that is always a good idea. Not all developers can do this, though. Sometimes they have done some work, but their work is not open source. Most development happens behind closed doors and you can’t legally share the code. While nights and weekends are a possibility for some, it may not be for others due to other obligations. So, what happens to them?

Tracy: If you keep files on how you do something such as a way you set up a document or a CD pipeline, and you can talk about it intelligently, then that might be a really smart way to go about it. Hiring developers can also depend on how well they can take feedback as well.

Arsalan: Big silicon valley companies often have a very high bar for new developers, but there is life outside of Silicon valley. Once you have proven yourself, it becomes easier to move on to other positions. Silicon valley can be a tough place to get your start as a new developer unless you have bragging rights to something. But, you can go somewhere else where you can gain the experience you need. Then, you can go to Silicon valley if needed.

Tracy: One of the mistakes people in Silicon valley sometimes make is only hiring from that specific talent pool. There are talented people all over the country.

Tracy: It’s common for everyone to think that they aren’t good enough at something at one point or another. You have to be okay with learning new things and being a beginner all over again.

Tracy: If you can get a formal mentorship, that is great. But, if not, then getting someone within the community that you can learn from is just as important.

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