The Why and How on Dev Bootcamp

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. Continue reading

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

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 <img/> 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 towardThe 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. Continue reading

Why Coding?

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. Continue reading

Hackbright Update #1

Unrelated image. Sweet Siblings. Rolled Crossbird on the Canon EOS3. 

A few days after I hit submit on my written application I found an email from Hackbright in my inbox inviting me to do an interview with them! This is the first of two video interviews in the application process. It’s happening tomorrow and I feel good about it because based on everything I’ve read it’s an interview that attempts to understand the individual and the personality, and whether they are a good fit for the program. They only thing I can do is be myself.

If they like what they hear/see in the first interview I’ll be invited to do a second video meeting. I’ve tried to find everything written about the interview process with this particular program, and my take-away is that the first interview is about determining if your personality is a good fit for the group as a whole (which makes sense, since it’s a group of 40 spending 40 hours/week together). The second interview is set up to challenge applicants and see how they process and work through problems, to help instructors determine if this is a person they want to devote three months of their life to teaching.

I have my outfit and interview spot picked out and I’m ready to get this second step over with! Thank you to all those who have reached out on Twitter or Facebook to wish me luck. Those good thoughts meant a lot to me, and they will sustain me through the rest of the process as well.

Fingers crossed I’ll be checkin in next week with a second update that contains positive news!

The Woman Evolving Podcast

Film-photography guru Jonathan Canlas talks a lot about the importance of shooting personal work. Yan said it too, at the workshop I attended with her in April of last year. Shoot what inspires you, shoot what you love, and opportunities will come your way because people will see the sincerity in your work and want to become part of your creative process. They are photographers, talking to photographers, but I think you can replace the word “shoot” with create/write/craft and the results will be the same.

My Womanhood Beyond Motherhood project was born out of the desire to share and connect with other people. In October of 2014 I received a message from a woman named Cami. She referenced my Womanhood project and asked if I would like to be a collaborator on a podcast/organization she was starting, aimed at helping women experiencing identity shifts and transformations. After a few months of working together, Woman Evolving was born. In my experience, Jon and Yan were right – create and share, good things will come.

Woman Evolving Logo

The effort was founded by a group of ex-Mormons, but our hope is to keep the scope broad enough to apply to any woman who is moving from one mode of thinking or life-stage to another. The podcast is so new, and there are still a lot of kinks to work out. After listening to my first recording on working on softening my consonants and rounding my vowels and not being so quick to fill the silence. I hope you’ll be patient with us if you listen to one of the initial episodes, we’re definitely learning as we go.

I wasn’t going to announce it here until we had a larger library for all of you to sample, but I think the episode Cami did on Gender Based Violence and the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) is incredibly important and something I hope all of my readers will listen to. The episode combined with the blog post it’s featured on make it very easy to take action and affect change. That’s something I want to do more of in my life. Please visit the post, listen to the episode, and get in contact with your representatives to express your support for the bill.

If you aren’t a podcast lover already, but want to start listening to them (Serial, anyone?) there are lots of apps out there that you can set up so that new podcast episodes you subscribe to download right to your phone whenever they are available. I use an app called PodCruncher and have been really happy with it for over a year now.

We as panelists are all pursuing our own personal side projects within the umbrella of W.E.. I’m going to start out by doing one-on-one or small group interviews with people I know, sharing transitional experiences they’ve had. So far I’ve had a friend agree to talk with me about being raised in a religious household and coming out as gay, another who is willing to share her evolution into a feminist over the past year, and another  mom friend who is going to talk to me about being married and still wanting to be desirable (remember  the post after I chopped off my hair?) I love my hair now, by the way. I just needed some time. It grew on me. Hopefully the podcast will grow on you too.

You can hear me as host on the episode titled Making Your Evolution Known. What do you think? Tweet with me, @jennacole, or leave your thoughts on the That Wife Facebook page.