01 Aug

The Why and How on Dev Bootcamp

Posted by Jenna, Under Work

If you didn’t already see the post on Intagram announcing it – I was accepted in the Dev Bootcamp 19-week web developer education program this week!

For months I’ve been talking about my efforts to get into a coding bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area called Hackbright (*see below for a list of blog posts related to my bootcamp application process). I applied in February of 2015, was declined, and submitted another application in May. While I waited a very long two months to hear back from them, I signed up for a prep course from a different bootcamp program called Hack Reactor. I enjoyed the Hack Reactor prep experience, and I started to wonder if Hackbright might not be the best fit for me.

Currently there are hundreds of bootcamp programs in the Bay Area, with new ones popping up all the time. I wanted to keep things simple, and I really liked the idea of a program geared specifically toward women because I think it’s important to have supportive and safe environments for women to train in as they prepare to enter the often-hostile world of tech. I talked to several Hackbright alumna who were very happy with their bootcamp choice, but the amount of time it was taking to get to my application bothered me, and I talked to several people who urged me to reconsider an option that, in their opinion, would lead me to an internship but might not lead me to the sort of full-time work I would need to recoup my costs as quickly as I’m hoping.

San Francisco Abstraction

Canon AE-1, Fuji Superia 800s

The more I talked to the alumni and instructors from Hack Reactor, the more it sounded like something I wanted to go for. It’s somewhat known as “The Harvard” of the bootcamp programs and the admissions interview is very difficult, making their students some of the elite out there in the race to redefine the software engineering profession. I knew it would be an incredible commitment, with six days/week of in-person instruction instead of the usual five, but it felt like it would set me up for career options I might not have otherwise. Just as I was about to make my move and commit to the application I asked one more alum who responded to my query about what makes the program special with “You’re going to feel like you’re the least intelligent person there, and everyone status until almost-midnight every night.” I want to be challenged, yes, but that’s not the environment and mindset I’m looking for as a mother of two young children living an hour train-ride south of the city. I realized if I attended Hack Reactor I would never see my family. I would barely have time to sleep!

On Thursday morning, July 30th, I had my second interview with the Hackbright program. Read more →

29 Jul

Castellabate, Italy

Posted by Jenna, Under Photography

I’m sending my #Euroand15 film in slowly, savoring the way it feels to rediscover our trip through the lens of my camera. This is Castellabate, a teeny tiny town with the narrowest streets I’ve ever navigated via car, in the province of Salerno, located in the Campania region. We had several different interactions with the locals that proved them to be some of the friendliest, kindest people I’ve come across.

I’m thinking in particular of the woman working in a bait and tackle shop who listened patiently to me explaining in broken Italian that my film had broken off the spool and I needed some sort of black cloth to protect it from the light once I removed it from the camera. She pointed to a bag used for holding fishing poles and indicated I could have one for free, and then when I mentioned that I also need a pitch-black room to remove the film from the camera she allowed me to go into the back of the store all by myself to unwind my film and stuff it into the bag she had provided. To top all of that off, she offered me some free farm-fresh eggs as I left the store! I wouldn’t have this image if it wasn’t for her kindness and trust in a complete stranger.

Jenna Cole - Portra 800, Canon AE-1pPortra 800, Canon AE1-p, TheFINDlab


24 Jul

What is Coding? (And what I like about it)

Posted by Jenna, Under Work

las Vegas taxiYashica Mat 124-g, Ektar 100 rated at 400 and pushed two stops

When I started researching software engineering back in January, I didn’t know much about what coding was past fiddling with <p> and <a href>  tags in html. I’m still getting questions that lead me to think a bit more exploration of this topic would help. And maybe get some more people to try it, because coding is really fun! Even better, it’s a really important skill to have as technology progresses and we inch toward The Singularity.

Software engineering/coding/hacking/computer programming/etc are all terms used in a variety of ways to refer to the act of using a language to make stuff happen using a computer. There are a lot of programming languages being used out there, and the industry is shifting toward new ones all the time. Facebook recently introduced a new one called Hack, ios and android each have specific languages used for development, I’m hearing rumors that Python is out and Javascript is in, but I’m sure next week that will all be old news. Once you know one language there is enough crossover to start picking up others, the way Romance-based language speakers can pick up Italian or Spanish or Portugese more easily than a first-language Chinese speaker because there are similarities between the way the different languages work.

Want to know what it’s like to work with one of these languages? There are so many free resources out there by now that deciding which one to use is probably the hardest part of beginning to learn. Some of the most commonly-referenced resources are Khan Academy, Codecademy, Udemy, and YouTube. I’ve actually had several important breakthroughs watching different YouTube videos, because sometimes a concept needs to be explained a certain way before I can really grasp it. I think you can’t really know what it means to code, or if you’d like to code, unless you try it. Read more →

22 Jul

Why Coding?

Posted by Jenna, Under Work

An Instagram comment pointed out that I’ve talked a lot about what I’m doing, but not why I’m doing it. Why would a 30-year-old mother-of-two with an English major, photography business, and several blogs attempt to join the world of tech and do software engineering (which to the outsider might seem like something that is dry, technical, and math-heavy)? I’m not going to get into some of the false assumptions about software engineering, I think that would do nicely as a post on its own. This is my chance to document the thought process I went through to arrive in this place where I am now.

I’ve been unhappy with my current blend of SAHM/WAHM for awhile now. If I’m home I should either be working on housework, Jenna Cole photos, or Pinterest Fail. It made it hard for me to enjoy the time spent at my own house because thoughts of my to-do list were always nagging at me. Even making a coffee and sitting and drinking it in the front room felt overly indulgent. I should be answering emails while I drink that cup of Joe! I was spending too much time telling my kids that I can’t be available to them because I have work to do. l was handing off the kids when TH got home and literally sprinting around the house to try to get everything done before bedtime. I certainly didn’t like what I had become, and I don’t think anyone else did either.


Blogging and editing photos and marketing for your own business are all solo activities and there were entire days where I wouldn’t see or talk to anyone in-person except my kids. This pattern makes me a very lonely extrovert. I was spending 2+ hours in the car each day shuttling them around, and in-between I would race home and try to knock out as much as possible for my business before I would pick them up and hurry back to fit in gym and dishes and laundry before bed. It felt like I was running myself mad and not really getting anywhere. Read more →

09 Jul

July 2015 Update

Posted by Jenna, Under Adventures


Life Is For Strange Adventures And Take Pics

(wise words from some European clothing designers)

I’m starting this from the Caltrain, the same place I’m going to be from 5:00pm-5:30pm, Monday-Friday, for the rest of July (and again from 10:30pm-11:30pm). But I’m getting ahead of myself already as I write this life update after what has been two pretty incredible summer months with a whole lot of zigs and zags that I didn’t see coming. Read more →

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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