software developer

My career as a web and mobile application developer

Life as a web developer is challenging and rewarding. I love my career, love solving problems and writing code.

When I was a little girl, personal computers were still "new" to the world. I grew up with the evolving technology. There were no cell phones, no internet, none of these these high tech devices.  However, technology and electronics always amazed me. It also kept me curious about our ever changing world.  When I graduated high school, I headed off to college thinking I would take the path of most girls to either go into education or nursing. I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I spent a lot of time in the computer lab and in the back of my mind I loved computers but I never knew if there would be a career path for me because it was a field of mostly men. My first inspiration to become a web developer was my sister Song Vang.  She was self taught and we worked on some early web projects back in the late 1990s.  I took my first leap of faith investing in education for myself and the rest was history.

What is a web developer?
A web developer is a programmer who specializes in, or is specifically engaged in, the development of World Wide Web applications, or distributed network applications that are run over HTTP from a web server to a web browser. [Definition from Wikipedia]

What is the difference between a web developer and a software engineer?
The title. Roles and responsibilties differ from organization to organization. In a nutshell, they all code. 

What type of work do you do?
I code web applications for websites, tablets, and mobile phones. I also code native iOS applications and Android applications.  I administrate a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP) stack. I've also made applications that integrate with social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. 

What training is required to become a developer?
Most employers require an Associates Degree in Web Development or Bachelors of Science in Computer Sciences.  In this technology field, your education gets you the interview but your skills and experience gets you the job. Some of the best developers I've worked with never went to college.

What are some resources that I can learn to become a developer?
You are in luck! Google is your best friend.  I also recommend learning from and reading books. There are many paid websites that you can subscribe to learn programming languages. Also, you have me! You can contact me using my contact form if you have any questions. I may not always have an answer but I'm here to support you.

What soft skills are required for being a developer?
Passion. Drive. Persistence. Problem solving. Patience. Analytical. Detailed. Think outside the box.

What programming languages do you know?
My first programming language that I learned was Visual Basic, Java, SQL, and ASP. HTML, CSS and JavaScript are standard for web development. From there I learned PHP, Ruby, Objective-C, C#, Angular JS, Swift, and various frameworks/technologies. 

Describe a typical day on the job
First thing in the morning, we have our daily stand up meetings. In this meeting, we provide a quick overview of what we accomplished yesterday, what our goals are for the day, and if have any blockers.  Then I work on the different projects that I am assigned to, attend meetings, and code on my Macbook Pro.  A lot of the day is spent at a computer desk, typing, sitting down, and in meetings.

Who do we mostly work and collaborate with?
There are many team members including your manager, project manager, team lead, other developers, designers, business analysts, security architects, internal/external clients, director, business liasons, other people in the company, vendors, contractors, and most importantly customers! 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Creating apps! I love the challenge that I can create applications that people can interact with.

What do you like most about your job?
I like writing code, troubleshooting issues, debugging, and the fact that there's many ways to reach a solution.

What do you like least about your job?
I've worked with really great male developers and I've also worked with a handful of male developers with very high egos. Sometimes I get cut off before I finish speaking or making my points heard. At a former work place, I got talked down on.  Hey, no one should ever be treated like that.  Sometimes it's a boy's club and I'm not in it.

What is the most difficult challenge being a woman in a male dominated field?
Being a minority person of color and a woman. There's not that many of us so we are always the minority. Support in this area is improving and I'd like to change that to encourage more women and people of color to enter this field. It is a great field! 

What advice would you give someone entering school for programming?
You can start at community college or a technical college. They give you hands on training that most universities don't. Universities teach you theory but most classes are taught in a lecture and you don't get the hands on training like you would in a smaller classroom.  I've done both - community college and university.  Most important fact is find a strong support structure. Align yourself with other students and people who can help you.  Let go of the distractors and focus. If you live in Madison, visit Madison College! It is a great college and the instructors are phenominal. 

Any tips for being successful in this industry?
Find a mentor. I believe strongly in a mentor/peer relationship because it will help guide you in the direction you are seeking.  To stay competitive in this industry you must always be flexible and adapt to new technology. Learning is a continual process.  Over the course of the last 15 years of my career, I continue to learn new programming languages and tools to make me a more efficient developer.

If you would like to ask me any question to make this blog entry more complete, please comment below!