This Developing Story

TDS 87 - Social Worker to Software Engineer

Episode Summary

Kedasha went from social worker to software engineer and was candid in sharing her mistakes along the way. In addition to that, she now creates developer content with the goal of opening the door for others coming in after her.

Episode Notes

Episode Transcription

Episode 87 of this developing story.


what's up. Y'all it's b Dougie. And another podcast for you. Definitely a crazy month. I just want to mention real quick get up universe just completed. So if you want to check out some of the content I create outside of this podcast like all my GitHub action work definitely check out the KIDO and the search for b Dougie on getup universe.


Actually even better. Definitely got to see me there more on that YouTube channel. All right. So today we got Kadesha. Cur Kadeisha is a influencer, I guess you would call it influencer. Cause she's definitely all over Instagram. Instagram is not a place I think of when I think about developer content and someone put me on to Kadesha and her content.


And it's great if you'll give her a job, if you're looking to get into developers. She provides a lot of good education on that subject. So I encourage you to check that out. But I think also her trajectory of going to Grace Hopper fighting at her first job right before the picnic started is definitely something for everyone to hear and listen to.


So I'm happy it's a, an honor to be able to share this story. So without further ado, here we go.


Yeah. So I went to college and. Social work, all things. And so I worked for the state of Florida as a social worker for a few years. And then one day I realized wow, I really can't keep living like this. I was constantly broke. I couldn't afford the basic things I wanted in life. And so I started learning about personal finance and started following a lot of bloggers on Instagram.


And one day I saw a blog. I taught myself how to code in a few months and I got a job as a junior developer earning. I think she was earning like six figures and I was just like, what, how did you do that in a couple months? And you're earning so much money. And so I read her blog posts and I fell down the rabbit hole of free code camp Codeacademy I went to a bootcamp and then I was hired like within 10 months of learning, how to code.


I got my first developer.


Excellent. Yeah. And roughly like how long ago was that? This was,


In 2019. So the first time 2018, the first time I ever saw one line of code was December, 2018. So it wasn't that long ago I started my first developer job, January 22.


Okay. Wow. That's right before the the change of the world.


Okay, cool. That's legit. And so what was that transition from going into social work? And now you're doing the dev role in 2020. Did you start working in office or did you have a remote world role with them?


I went to a bootcamp to meet the transition. And so I was hired at the Grace Hopper conference in October, 2019 and yeah, in Florida.


Exactly. Exactly. And I actually worked at the convention center where it was happening at the time. So I worked in government and so it's a government owned building. And so I didn't have to worry about parking housing, none of that. But yes, I was hired there and it wasn't a remote position. So in 2019 remote roles, weren't really the norm quote unquote.


So I had to move from Florida to Milwaukee, like from one extreme to the next. And I remember when I moved here, it was so cold. We moved in December because we didn't know any better where Florida. So cold, we got here, it was 18 degrees. And I started my first step job, January 6, 20, 20, and I had to go into the office.


And so I worked into the office for, I think three months, January till about mid March. And I've been remote since then.


Yeah, that is that is quite the leap. The go to Minneapolis. Are you still based in like in Minnesota?


Yeah, so I moved to Wisconsin, Milwaukee and I still do live here.


Yes. I'm still at my, the company that hired me.


Yeah, that is amazing. And then are you all back in the office at this point?


Yes. So the company has a plan to get everybody back into the office. And sometime next year I'll be back into the office.


Okay, cool. I'd love to know about you. What would.


Okay. What was your first year now you hit the ground running. You have your first step job. How did you acclimate to now you're working on at a company writing code on a team where does some sort of like things you didn't expect?


Oh my gosh, it was traumatic. Let me tell you that first developer job is still hard to get, right?


And then you get the job and you think, oh, I can relax. No, it's like now the real. The first time I saw the code base, I was like, what is this madness? The first time I I got my computer to send it up. It took two whole days to get everything working properly. There were so many issues, but one thing I loved about my company is I had a mentor on my team.


But he was my go-to person and he answered every fee. Every question I had, he always was there to answer me and I had an amazing tech lead. And so the team I was on was thankfully very wholesome, very encouraging. And I was able to grow a lot from that. But let me tell you, it was trauma, legit trauma.


Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you're coming out the other end of this. And you've been doing a lot of like content on encouraging new devs. And you mentioned, you alluded to your content on Instagram as well. Can you give us like a quick update on what that's all about?


Absolutely. So the first year in, in my role, I completely disappeared from the internet because my work, my job was so overwhelming, but by the end of that, So you're, I started to feel like I really wanted to increase my confidence in talking about technical topics.


And so that's when I decided to start sharing content online January of this year. And so I decided to use Instagram because I could do videos. I could do lives, I can do carousels. I can do so many different things on Instagram. And so that's where I primarily share my content for new. And developers and the goal I had to improve my confidence.


Definitely met it. I'm really not scared to talk about technical topics. I speak up a lot more in meetings, which have helped me to get promoted at my company. So I think if you're a developer and you have an interest in creating content, do it because it will only help you to become a better




I'm right there with you. Cause I, I started writing a blog as soon as I learned how to code actually, before I learned how to code though, the whole thing was I was trying to keep myself accountable to what I was trying to do, which is write a blog every day, maybe 500 words of what I learned that day.


And it actually was like this sort of bedrock of my entire career. Yeah. Writing that and having something to point to and storytelling is like the, I don't know, I'm curious in your interview process, but like in my first interview they would ask me like, what was the hard problem I solved?


And the thing is like all the hard problems I solved, they wrote a blog post about. So it was like really easy for me to regurgitate that information in the interview. So curious about how your first interview.


Yeah, my first interview. Because I was hired at a conference, my first interview was very non-traditional.


It was pretty much a one and a half hour conversation with the director of engineering at the booth at the Grace Hopper conference. And I didn't even know it was an interview. I thought I was just talking about my, my work experience, my learnings at the boot camp I went to and the projects that I built.


And, but no, it was a full interview and I didn't have to do a coding challenge. God. And 15 minutes after the conversation, I got an email that I would. Hired or that they wanted to hire me and I legit cried because


That's actually, that's really amazing. Cause hats off to Grace Hopper conference, I've never been, I know it's been in, it's been Florida Orlando every year.


But I didn't realize it did interviews on site and


ah, interviews onsite offers on sites. I actually went to the Grace Hopper conference, the virtual one this year with my companies. It was a full circle moment and we extended a lot of offers as well. I think conferences are slept on, but they're like a really great way to get your.


Job because employers are willing and hungry and looking for, especially like diverse talent. And so the conferences is, that's a great way to get your first role as well.


Yeah. Yeah. And we didn't even explain that Grace Hopper it's it's a conference targeted towards women, female engineers, and like in the space.


Yeah. Which I was just, I just saw a tweet this morning where someone, a female engineer which is a silly entitled actually put on that. But basically Shelly who she's one of the core maintainers of electron got an email from someone asking that, basically saying, they're looking for female engineers.


Would you like to work at this company? And it rubbed her. Based on the tweet, it rubbed her the wrong way. And I think a lot of folks that kind of missed a point. If you have to really try to target a certain demographic or grow diversity in your, on your team, go sponsor Grace Hopper, go sit in one of these these boots and interview engineers that are looking for work.


And I think a lot of times as a public face or maybe a diverse face in engineering, you can get a lot of these like questions about how to, how do you make your team more than. And to be honest, like I don't have, I don't have the answers. I just know how I got the job, but also there are tons of people who are working in diverse roles, like specifically a good grow diversity at companies that those folks should read out, reach out to.


So I think the approach is completely wrong with the Grace Hopper approach. That's the approach that people should.


I 100% agree. And especially as a black person in technology, sometimes we're asked these questions because we are a certain type of people. And it's just I don't know. I can only tell you about my experience.


But I think you're right. Grace Hopper definitely has the right idea.


Very cool. So speaking about the right idea. Your, so your content creation on Instagram, I'm curious, the developers seen on Instagram and the folks who engage with that content are there other folks who are doing. Like these I think even though the terms you'd mentioned these, the live streams carousels.


Yeah. So I like Instagram because it's like an all-in-one platform. So I can create short form videos, like tick talks. I can create long form videos up to five minute. I can go live with my audience and interview people. I think up to four people. Now we can interview at the same time and, like connects to my audience that way I can do like stories to share like my personal life I could do like long form carousel posts to teach something.


So I think like Instagram is a great platform to share a large variety of content types. And yeah, a lot of my audience are new developers, like CS students, CS grads, bootcamp, grads, bootcamp, students. And they're looking for a place to go there that they're looking for somebody to teach them and to help them to get their first role and how to be successful.


And like I decided to be that person. Honestly,


That's awesome too, as well. And yeah I'll have to find your Instagram so we can drop it here in the space as well. But yeah, folks, we're talking to Kadesha Kerr about her trajectory into becoming an engineer. We're learning how to code in 2019 getting their first job at Grace Hopper, a 2020 and now at this point it's 18 months am my, I don't know if my numbers, October.


Yeah, almost two years at this point engineering full-time, which is You had started the conversation around you discovered that engineers would get like basically getting paid real money eventually found yourself down this path. So I guess what's your thoughts? What's your advice for folks who maybe might be sitting in the space and looking to make.


Yeah, I think I think the world of software development offers a way to lift people out of poverty. So like I grew up really poor. And so like when I found tech, it was almost like a godsend because I was just like, wow, I can actually have a job and I don't have to struggle for the rest of my life.


And I think if this is something that you want to do, figure out why you want to do it. So like the money is great. But if you're doing it just for the money honestly that motivation and that drive, it's not going to stay there for long because money is just a tool that we use to live. You really need to have a concrete reason internally that says, this is why I want to meet this transition so that when it gets hard and it will get hard, you can always go back to your wife.


To keep going, but no, I said, do it just take the leap and do it. Why not? Time's going to pass by. Yeah.


And the thing I'd add to that as well, which I think is all all great tips is time is also another valuable resource that w sometimes we can take for granted. When I got into programming, I'd mentioned to you before we jumped on here, I was 27.


I had my first kid in Orlando and we. I knew that time was going to be a limited resource. As soon as my kid got older and I would have to make a decision of, my career or being around. And like just this morning I was able to drop both my kids off at school. No issues still come back to your meetings, right?


A little bit of code, edit some videos. And I feel like that resource of time is something I've just really got to got a really good hand. In the last couple of years, to be quite honest.


Yeah. And I think that's what a lot of people are realizing. I think the pandemic has, it was catastrophic, but I think it was also like a wide awakening for society to realize what's truly important.


And to also realize wow, life doesn't have to be a struggle. And I think that's one thing I learned from my journey into development. It's just I've struggled for all my life since I've grown up in Jamaica. To like becoming a social worker to like working as a social worker, then going into government work.


It's just been a constant struggle. And so now being on this side where I'm not struggling, I'm just struggling with Java scripts. It's such a relief to not like struggle with life, and I think not struggling with life has cleared up a lot of things. The space where I'm able to share contents online.


So imagine what you can do if you didn't have to struggle about struggled with life, imagine the things that you could do. Yeah,


that is 100% like the current space I'm in right now. Like I just baffled on I've been doing this for eight, eight years at this point going on nine years and it's like night and day, my lifestyle before.


And it's not like I got my lifestyle is like absolutely amazing. I'm driving a Tesla or anything like that, which I would love to drive a Tesla if they, you could buy one right now. But I guess what I'm getting at is like the freedom of not even so I used to be you mentioned you grew up really poor.


I grew up really poor, so not really poor, but just like one really. And so like growing up, you go in the grocery store and you ask your mom like, Hey, can I get this candy bar? After, every single time someone like you, you just know your mom's just going to say, no, you stop asking. And that's the kind of like the setup I had in my sort of life growing up is just you know what, that's not for you.


So stop asking in the grocery store line if I can get these m&ms. But now I'm I am an M it's like too many M and M's nowadays, and I don't even think about how much it costs or what it's doing to


your body. Yes. And it's it sounds so simple, but I really like. So heavily I wouldn't ask for anything growing up.


And even as an adult, that behavior translated into things that I wanted, but I just convinced myself, no, you don't want it because I couldn't afford it. And it's just like now yeah. Buying something as simple as a kombucha, it's just I don't have to think about, I don't have to think about it.


I just get it because I can, and it sounds so simple, but the mental relief. And it's mind blowing. And I think that's why I love sharing content because I'm dislike. You don't have to struggle through life. You really don't like programming is a skill and there are jobs. Learn the skill, get a job, and then live your life.


Like life doesn't have to be a strict.


Yep. Yeah. So can I talk about, you mentioned struggle. Can I talk about time management and how you were able to put the time into learning, but also even like what you're doing time management today? What, what helps?


Oh yeah. So when I started learning how to code, I would learn in the evenings after work and honestly, sometimes at work, cause I was very bored at my job.


So I would be on like code academy or free code camp at work on the work computer learning. And so when I started bootcamp, I quit my job because I really just wanted to accelerate. And thankfully I had a partner who was able to support us at the time. So I was able to do that, but I still worked like three jobs.


So what I'm saying is during bootcamp, there was no time management. It was just like, go time. But now that I'm working, I use my calendar heavily. So if something is not on my calendar, It's not going to happen because I'm not going to remember. And with my content, I do a lot of batching and planning that way I don't feel overwhelmed.


And that way I stay consistent and with work always comes first, because I got to eat. So I always make sure that my work tasks are done properly and get that out of the way. But I do a lot of planning. And I use my calendar heavily for for planning.


Cool. Cool. And can we talk a little bit about your what's your sort of learning and studying on.


So you mentioned you do I already forgot the term, but you work on components, the design system engineering. So how do you stay up to speed on all things react or all things? Design systems.


Yeah. So thankfully my company. Gives us access to like front end, masters Pluralsight, all the learning platforms.


I have access to those. So I use those a lot to beef up my knowledge. And I'm also, I recently joined this slack group called design systems. I think it's called it's specifically for like developers and designers who work on design systems. So we can ask questions a lot as well. And I also. Scroll through Twitter is so I'm not super active on Twitter, but I do use Twitter to keep up to date with what's happening in the development.


Okay, cool. Yeah. Twitter is a great place to just stay up to date with what the news, like a big change has happened. That's a great, like I just keep Twitter open all day to be quite honest I would say about I'm slightly active. I don't, I probably tweet every other day maybe and engage with some tweet.


I tried to do like a what w first thing I did when I first learned how to code was I followed like the top people in the field that I was trying to get into, which was. Development. So what I did for years would I would respond to at least one tweet a day something positive. And it actually was super helpful.


It's if anybody's listening and you're just looking to grow your network and maybe you're still stuck remote. Just joining a conversation, like a thread of somebody sharing a blog post and provide some feedback on that. Make sure it's positive as well. Use that if you're trying to get a job, I create an alternative account or whatever.


And then that's where you, that's where you basically do all these sort of the critiques on people's content, but the positive account.


I agree. The developer squeeze on Twitter is so welcoming mostly, and you can find a lot of awesome people on Twitter and it's a great way to network.


And I feel like it's a L it has a very low barrier of entry because that's how I started to like, do things on Twitter. When I was learning, I would just tweet what I was learning. And I had this huge community of developers always willing to help me. And I got so much help from the developer community.


But yeah, if you're looking to network, definitely listen to Jay boogie needs a game and and start tweeting because the developer community is massive on Twitter. And they're very generous with their time.


I'm curious with what you've been doing Kadesha. Yeah. How has that networking been going for you?


Since I know we've come from pandemic, everything remote, have you still been able to network and go to events and stuff like that?


Honestly I, because I create contents and I'm, I put myself out there, I haven't had to like intentionally network. I've created my own little community of developers that I will ask questions or go to Ford.


Just from putting myself out there and creating content. So that's where I am with networking. I haven't had to put a lot of effort into it, honestly,


but th that goes to show though, as well, too, as well. You did get your first roll up from Grace Hopper, but I'm going to go ahead and put myself out there and say, you're probably, if you decide to move on from the current role to another role, if that ever happens, I imagine based on your persona and how much you put yourself out there, people will probably reach out to you pretty easily.


I think so too. And that's also another reason I do