We Belong Here: Lessons from Unconventional Paths to Tech

Lauren Lee

A weekly podcast that aims to interview career changers & folks that are diversifying the tech industry. Sharing stories about the different routes people have taken to enter the industry and chatting about the skills they learned in their prior jobs, schooling, or life experiences & how they apply them to their current roles in tech. https://WeBelongPodcast.com/

0. Introducing: We Belong Here
Trailer 1 min 26 sec

All Episodes

My guest today is a former educator who now works as an Education Evangelist at GitLab. After teaching English for 11 years in Florida and South Korea, he made the transition into tech in May of 2021 after teaching himself to code with Codecademy during the pandemic. He’s a passionate public speaker and has spoken at a Microsoft conference as well as hosted several meetups and other events representing GitLab. You can catch him on Twitch building a website about poetry or building his next pop-star-based Twitter bot.Resources: Follow PJ on Twitter: @MetzinAroundCodecademyGitlab We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Nov 30

51 min 30 sec

Tonya Sims is a self-taught developer and is the Python Developer Advocate at Vonage. She has an eclectic background ranging from roles in business, pharmaceutical sales, and even is a former professional women’s basketball player! Tonya is humble and down to earth and has a ton of empathy. All of her life experiences allow her to see the world from many different perspectives. She started her career in tech working as an executive assistant for a leading financial investments company in their IT department. Shortly thereafter, she transitioned into a computer operator role and started learning how to code. Eventually, she worked her way up from an entry-level position to earn roles as a software engineer in test and software developer contracting with some of the top financial services companies in Chicago. Tonya is passionate about helping other budding engineers and loves to see people succeed. Resources:Tonya on Twitter: @TonyaSimsPython DiscordWomen in Tech Slack To Sell is Human by Daniel PinkWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingwebelongpodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Nov 2

32 min 14 sec

Allen is a self-taught iOS Developer who made the switch from a professional sales career and now sits as a software engineer at Yelp. He believes anyone can learn to program, they just have to put in the time and effort.He studied psychology in school and figured he would end up going to grad school for it as well but ended up finding joy in the world of sales. While in sales, he learned so many lessons: the art of receiving negative feedback, the art of storytelling, as well how to both clearly and concisely communicate with people in his day-to-day life. He had always had an interest in coding but wasn’t interested in studying Computer Science in school so thought that would never be a possible career path for him. But the curiosity never left him so eventually he began teaching himself Ruby and Python! But he wasn’t successful in finding a full-time role and so he pivoted to learning iOS and building apps he actually wanted to use in his life.Today he is a Software Engineer at Yelp and continues to use the lessons he learned in sales. He also is the organizer of @iOSDevHappyHour - a place where current and aspiring iOS devs can come together and enjoy a good time!Resources: Allen on Twitter: @codeine_coding @iOSDevHappyHourExtreme Ownership book recommendation codeinecoding.comWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingwebelongpodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Aug 30

51 min 6 sec

Alex Merced taught himself to code just a few years ago. Before that, he spent a decade training people in finance and has also moonlighted as a political candidate, concert promoter, and comic book store owner.Today, he’s a developer for CampusGaurd and Instructor for General Assembly Coding Bootcamps. He is also the creator of devNursery.com - a developer community and is the creator of many Javascript libraries.Resources: AlexMercedCoder.comdevNursery.comPodcast: Web Dev 101Book Recommended:  Nassim Taleb - Antifragile: Things that Gain from DisorderWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingwebelongpodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Aug 24

33 min 53 sec

Wesley Faulkner is a first-generation American. He is a founding member of the government transparency group Open Austin and ran for Austin City Council in 2016. His professional experience also includes work as a social media and community manager for the software company Atlassian, and various roles for the computer processor company AMD, Dell, IBM, and Daily. Wesley serves as a board member for South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) and today is the Head of Community at SingleStore. Resources: Wesley on Twitter: @wesley83FreeCodeCampWesleyfaulkner.comAgainst Empathy: The Case for Rational CompassionWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingwebelongpodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Aug 16

42 min 11 sec

Sierra is a Senior Consultant at Atomic Robot in Cincinnati, OH, focused primarily on Native Android solutions. She loves building beautiful and accessible Android apps, sharing knowledge with the community, and mentoring aspiring mobile developers. She serves as a Director of Women Who Code Cincinnati and a global track lead for Women Who Code Mobile. Before becoming an Android developer, she was in graduate school in a Ph.D. program to become a laser physicist. She had actually always wanted to go to beauty school but after high school, because she had scholarships and was good at math and sciences, she ended up in the math and physics department in college. As she says, the passion for the subject wasn’t necessarily there but she ended up finishing her degree! But eventually, that lack of interest caught up with her and she recognized the need for something different.JP Morgan was looking to diversify their tech pipeline and so she took a leap of faith to enroll in their program and learn to code! Today she has discovered her passion and is a consultant at a mobile development shop where she gets to build apps for clients and create things she’s truly excited about and interested in every single day.Sierra believes that anyone can make the leap into tech and find joy in their career.  She advocates for the power of googling and reminds the listener that the answer to their question is always out there! Resources: Sierra on Twitter: @_sierrobryanSierraobryan.dev Women Who Code Cincinnati Women Who Code MobileWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingwebelongpodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Aug 10

28 min

Domitrius is a Developer Experience Engineer at Cloudinary. From retail to engineering, his focus has always been on making sure the customer's experience is the top priority. He’s the founder of Reactadelphia, a Philly meetup for React & JavaScript developers, and is an avid community builder & consultant.He spent many years of his life working and managing retail stores. But upon learning that the path to success in that industry was very narrow, he knew he needed to find a different path. He had always had an interest in tech and coding bootcamps were just beginning to emerge at the time and thus he started exploring that as an option.He attended a bootcamp in Philadelphia but struggled because of the lack of support and poor curriculum decisions the school made. The program has since shut down, but it was a really hard time for Domitrius. Ever resilient and determined to succeed, he decided to teach himself JavaScript and go on the job hunt on his own.Domitrius is a community builder through and through. When he was still searching for his first web developer role, he created a community for bootcamp grads to connect with and support one another as they navigated the industry and worked to demonstrate to companies that bootcamp grads were qualified candidates in those early days when hiring managers and tech companies, in general, were still rather skeptical.He landed his first role after he cold-emailed the CEO of a startup and offered his skills - owning that he wasn’t the most technical or senior dev by any means, but offered them his community-building powers and the confidence that he would be able to learn the necessary skills while in the role. He has since gone on to work as a Front-End and UI Engineer and now in Developer Relations at Cloudinary as a Developer Experience Engineer. Today he creates Egghead courses and organizes meetups for folks who are also looking to learn to code. He is an active advocate for people hungry to make the career change themselves and e continues to incorporate community work in everything that he does.  Resources: Reactadelphia: a Philly meetup dedicated to showing how awesome the local React community is!Domitrius on Twitter @DomitriusClarkDomitrius on Twitch: twitch.tv/domitriusclarkWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingwebelongpodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Aug 3

58 min 12 sec

Chris Ferdinandi helps people learn vanilla JavaScript. He believes there’s a simpler, more resilient way to make things for the web. His developer tips newsletter is read by thousands of developers each weekday which you can check out at GoMakeThings.com.In college, Chris had a lot of curiosities and even 4-5 majors before landing in Anthropology. He loved studying the content, but the work wasn’t exactly interesting to him. His dad suggested he explore the world of HR (Human Resources) and he did, for quite a while in fact.Interested in helping people solve problems within the world of HR, he started a blog and began teaching himself WordPress, HTML, and CSS. As he was learning but still working at his 9-5 job, he and his HR manager had the idea to create a scavenger hunt app to help new hires learn more about the company. The problem was that it was WAY too expensive to outsource and have someone else build. So Chris was given the opportunity to build it himself! And while creating that app, he discovered the joy of building and creating something with code. He has since gone on to become a Sr. Front-End Engineer! He has also developed deep expertise on Vanilla JS and teaches people how to create powerful and exciting things with it!We discuss how to know when you’re ready to apply for your first web development job. Chris’s advice is to apply even sooner than when you feel ready! He encourages folks to teach others, help newbies, and blog about your learning to help others on their journey as it can help you find a job too! Resources: GoMakeThings.comFollow Chris on Twitter @chrisferdinandiVanilla JS Podcast Vanilla JS AcademyDeveloper Tips NewsletterWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding: https://twitter.com/LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.com https://webelongpodcast.com/Subscribe on Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/we-belong-here-lessons-from-unconventional-paths-to-tech/id1455784370#episodeGuid=Buzzsprout-6495208Subscribe on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/0YilCmVxb3t9dHAYCQoExCWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Jul 25

44 min 40 sec

Mindy is a math teacher turned software engineer with the goal of supporting folks entering the tech field. She had wanted to be a teacher ever since she was a little girl but after teaching middle and high school for a few years, she decided it wasn't quite the right fit.She started searching for roles where she could use her math degree and found work as a temp at a civil engineering company. She was always looking for a new challenge and began to explore helping them automate their processes. That exploration led her to have a conversation with friends about potentially looking into learning to code. So she attended an online coding school called Launch School and was fortunate to participate in one of the first cohorts of Collab Lab - a project-based collaborative experience for new developers. We talk all about her journey of applying to jobs and finding the right company and fit. And she tells the story of landing her dream role as a Software Engineer at New Relic! Resources: Launch School: https://launchschool.com/The Collab Lab: https://the-collab-lab.codes/Ignite Program at New Relic: https://newrelic.com/resources/articles/ignite-program-hiring-overviewMindy on Twitter @Mindy_Joy: https://twitter.com/Mindy_JoyWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding: https://twitter.com/LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast website: https://webelongpodcast.com/ Subscribe on Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/we-belong-here-lessons-from-unconventional-paths-to-tech/id1455784370#episodeGuid=Buzzsprout-6495208Subscribe on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/0YilCmVxb3t9dHAYCQoExC We Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Jul 20

39 min 4 sec

Yechiel Kalmenson is a rabbi and teacher who pivoted to engineering three years ago. After serving as a rabbi and elementary teacher for a few years, Yechiel faced a crossroads and needed to pivot careers. He started working in technical support, took courses online, and ultimately enrolled in a boot camp to learn to code. And today, he is a software engineer at VMware!He still loves teaching and does that as much as he can through mentoring and using his blog and weekly newsletter, Torah && Tech.Resources: Rabbi on Rails Torah && Tech Yechiel’s LinkedInYechiel on Twitter: @yechielkYechiel on GitHub: @achasveachas We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Jul 15

24 min 38 sec

Before learning to code, Cecelia worked in journalism and financial services. She always had a hobby of making WordPress websites for friends but never thought of pursuing tech professionally. But after moving to Atlanta, meeting a few bootcamp grads, and discovering that coding is such a creative form of expression, she knew it was the path for her! She is a graduate of the Full-Stack Software Engineering Program at Georgia Tech and today is a Technical Account Manager at Cypress.io where she spends her days talking to users about testing strategies, helping them overcome technical challenges, and providing education and training. Resources: Women Who Code Front EndOut in Tech AtlantaCecelia’s websiteCecelia’s personal GitHub Cecelia’s professional GitHubBlogpost on NetworkingWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on Spotify We Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Jul 9

32 min 51 sec

Ceora is a software developer based in Philadelphia. She worked in childcare and with children but was always interested in tech. Coding was always in the back of her mind. She starting freelancing as a digital marketer and was finding success, but then the pandemic hit, and lost all of her clients. At that moment in time, Ceora had an opportunity to reset her career progression and decided to go all-in on learning to code.In a moment of transparency, she decided to share her learning with her community and create tutorials and blogs with others learning to code as well.  Egghead.io saw her initial blog post and asked her to become a learner advocate for them. She took their courses, attended workshops, documented her learning, and published those notes to GitHub, all while getting exposed and building relationships with experienced developers in the industry!She worked as a teacher with Kode with Klossy, as a writer for Digital Ocean, and as a Developer Marketing Coordinator at CodeSandbox.  She's on a journey to become a Developer Advocate and will have more to share with the world soon!She is a huge proponent of inclusion, accessibility, and community building. Her career thus far has centered around creating educational content focused on making the tech industry more accessible to everyone.  This episode is packed with encouraging bits of advice and wisdom. It is not one to miss! Resources: Ceora on Twitter: @ceeoreo_Ceora’s website: ceoraford.comCeora on LinkedInWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on Spotify We Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Jun 29

48 min

Kenneth is played the saxophone in school and always wanted to be a high school band director. But soon he discovered that while he was passionate about music, it wasn’t exactly the career for him. In college, Kenneth worked at a QuikTrip gas station part-time. When offered a promotion to be a night assistant manager, he realized that he would be making more money in that role than what he was studying in school. The competition in music was high and the pay was low, so he did not pursue it any further.At QuikTrip, he learned the trade of handy maintenance and learned how to fix nearly anything! One day while browsing Reddit, he discovered a smart kegerator and wanted to see if he could build it himself! He began teaching himself Python, started creating web apps, and was thrilled by the new skills he was learning.He worked out a schedule with QuikTrip and decided to go back to school to learn to program! There he joined a programming club, met some incredible individuals, participated in some hackathons, and began searching for a full-time gig!He landed a development role at a boutique consulting firm and continued to build software on the side to help developers level up and earn money from their knowledge. He was always working on a side hustle, is ridiculously motivated, and his story is beyond inspiring.Today, Kenneth has gone all-in on his company, Slip! Be sure to check it out. This episode is packed with incredible tips and words of wisdom for those looking to break into tech. Resources: Kenneth's company SlipKenneth’s Twitter: @KennethCassel We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Jun 23

35 min 14 sec

Claudia Maciel grew up in a small farming community in California and had dreams of exploring the world. She went to college full of enthusiasm and curiosity - eager to discover what she was most passionate and interested in. In her first year, she enrolled in an intro to computer programming course but was the only girl and the only Mexican in the entire class. Her professors were encouraging though and she loved the class. In fact, she was so great at it she decided to major in Computer Science!But when she graduated from college and started going out onto interviews, she suddenly was back to that same place of feeling alone and as though she didn’t belong in the industry. She just didn’t feel as though she belonged. So instead, she decided to help others and to teach students about computer science and aviation.Oh yeah,  in college she also discovered a passion and aptitude for aviation and flying!So that is what she went on to do for a long time - she was teaching at an after-school program as well at the local aviation school. And that’s when NASA approached her! With NASA, Claudia helped to empower children to get into STEM and push beyond societal boundaries. It was an incredible program, but ultimately, the fact that she was encouraging students to pursue these sorts of careers despite pursuing them herself became too glaring and she felt ready to break into the industry herself.That’s when Claudia became a pilot for SkyWest Airlines. She was finally then able to travel, to leave her town, and see the world!She loved it, but the traveling became too much for her family, and so with the confidence gained after joining the male-dominated industry of aviation, Claudia discovered she felt ready and able to enter the tech industry.She discovered the Lambda School’s iOS program and dedicated herself to their program to dive int0 the world of native application development. And since recording the interview, Claudia has landed her first tech job as a mobile app developer at Jack Henry & Associates!This episode is packed with advice and tips for those looking to break into tech. Claudia overcame fears of being the only woman or Latina in both aviation and tech. Today, she is an example for all young Latinas to never stop pursuing their dreams!Resources: Claudia on Twitter @coder_pilot#WomenWhoCodeMobileClaudia on LinkedInWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Jun 8

28 min 47 sec

Dan worked as a freelance sign language interpreter for nearly two decades. He has always had an affinity for visual learning and languages in particular. And in high school, he remembers observing that sign language itself was a visual language.Once in college, he finally took a sign language class and discovered how incredible it is to express something in three dimensions. He soon began his freelancing business and quickly turned that into a full-time thing!In 2008, he bought his first Apple computer and began building small Python scripts to automate some of his freelancing processes. That sort of tinkering piqued his interest and he began to start playing with other learning platforms as he and his kids began learning coding concepts together. Eventually, he enrolled in the Lambda School on the iOS track and has since joined Nordstrom as a mobile application engineer!Today we tackle what it’s like to join tech as someone older than the industry average and Dan gives the advice to just own it and to not let it define you. Dan speaks to the power of community and the importance of giving back to the communities you care about - as you never know how they might impact your future and your life. This episode is packed with great advice for those curious to break into tech. It is not one to miss!Resources: Dan on Twitter @DanandamiDan’s LinkedInUnderDog Devs Unloop We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on Spotify We Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Jun 1

32 min 34 sec

Jess Bonanno grew up in Brooklyn and moved to NJ during high school.  She has always been obsessed with tech and planned to study it after high school but began getting herself into trouble.She thought she had missed her chance to make tech a career and in 2004 became a house painter - of which she has been mastering that trade for the past 16 years.In 2019 she decided to teach herself to code in hopes of a career switch. She started at Lambda School and earlier this year!In September of 2020, she was invited into UnderDog Devs, a group dedicated to supporting formerly incarcerated & disadvantaged aspiring developers, and has become an active part of the community.Since graduating from Lambda School in February, Jess started Hack Reactor and graduates on June 4th!  She will then begin working with one of the partnering companies. All very happy and exciting things ✨Resources: Jess on Twitter: @JessDoesCode@UnderDog Devs UnderDog Devs Slack  Donate to Underdog DevsWe Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on Spotify We Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

May 22

31 min 5 sec

Filip Hric always loved playing with and tinkering with tech. But growing up, he struggled with math and thus convinced himself that he didn’t belong in the world of tech. So instead, he decided to study Psychology and ended up even getting a Master’s in it!After school, while working at an NGO, he helped build an application that allowed people struggling with mental health to chat with volunteer psychologists and social workers. He worked on the campaign graphics and changed the layout on the page. Slowly, he began to learn some CSS and HTML so that he could make even bigger changes to the app. These experiences led to him discovering that his heart desired to be in tech.He spent his evenings teaching himself basic HTML and Javascript and that learning fueled a fire of curiosity and passion for him. His father’s tech company was searching for a tester so he decided to take the leap into the world of tech.Today, he advocates that testing is a great way to enter into tech, to learn about the basics, and to explore the patterns and best practices of developing apps.Because of his background in Psychology, Filip strives for a human-centered approach in everything he does. The question, why do people do what they do? is truly what user experience is all about.Today he is a QA lead and test automation engineer at a Slovakia-based company called Slido, where he leads a team and watches over the monthly releases of Slido products.There he searches for bugs and problems within the product and simulates the way the end-user might interact with a feature.Today’s episode is a great conversation and is full of encouragement for those looking to transition into tech!Resources: Filip on Twitter: @filip_hric Filip’s blog and website: filiphric.comTesting automation resource: Cypress.ioHectic - the freelancing app for everyoneVisit: GetHecticApp.com/WeBelongHere to start for free today!We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on Spotify We Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Apr 27

42 min 30 sec

On today’s episode, I chat with Tali Herzka. Who has forever been interested in Science, genetics, and Molecular Biology. Molecular pathways and systems seemed to connect with the way she understood the world.After getting a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and working in a cancer research laboratory for several years, she moved cross country to pursue a drastic career change and learn to code. It was a massive leap of faith diverging from her prescribed future in science and felt wildly exciting and terrifying all at once. She moved into a “Hacker House” which was just a warehouse in San Francisco and was thrust into a whole new world of tech.Since graduating from her bootcamp, Tali has been a full-time software developer/data engineer for 7 years now. She currently is a software engineer at Scribd but when not coding, she's crafting or taking pictures of her bird for the 'gram.In today’s episode, Tali gives the advice of combining your prior interests and experiences into your role in tech. And also to listen to your gut, to take a risk on passions, and to never pursue a path that isn’t your own. Resources: CodecademyTali on Twitter: @therzka Tali’s bird: Mango the Yellow Sided Conure Tali’s Website Hectic - the freelancing app for everyoneVisit: GetHecticApp.com/WeBelongHere to start for free today!We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Apr 13

52 min 42 sec

On today’s episode, I chat with Kilo Loco, aka Kyle Lee. Who is a self-taught developer, programming tutorial YouTuber, and Senior Developer Advocate at AWS. Kilo officially entered tech in 2016. Prior to that, he worked in many different industries: in restaurants, real estate, car sales, telemarketing, and more. But he never found a true passion in any of those roles. Eventually, he came across programming and absolutely fell in love! He navigated through different tech languages including HTML, CSS, Javascript, Objective-C, and Swift. To learn the language, he played around with building apps that he and his family wanted and/or needed. For example, he created an accessibility app for his great grandfather who was hard of hearing to better communicate with him. Although they were simple apps, he felt ready to start applying for full-time development roles.  He started a YouTube channel to share his learning with his community and today is a Sr. Developer Advocate at AWS. Kilo has several years of experience working at companies both large and small, as well as freelance contracting. His focus is to take his experiences as a developer and share them with the world, helping others to code passionately.Resources: Kilo’s YouTube channelFollow Kilo on Twitter @Kilo_LocoAWS Amplify Hectic - the freelancing app for everyoneVisit: GetHecticApp.com/WeBelongHere to start for free today!We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on Spotify We Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Mar 17

35 min 54 sec

Lucy Suddenly is a white, able-bodied trans woman from the greater Seattle area. She got a BA in psychology and spent a decade in box office management before realizing that programming was her destiny. She switched careers after attending Flatiron School and now works as a Builds and Deployment Engineer at Outreach.io in Seattle.We chat about the box office industry, how small it is, and the lack of roles it has as a result. She had dabbled with code quite a bit as a kid and returned to it after a major life event and was searching for a new career path. She attended Flatiron School as a part of Seattle’s first in-person cohort and even went on to teach there afterward.Today at Outreach.io, Lucy is building CI-CD services and accompanying tooling to abstract away the complexity of deployments for her new favorite customers: product engineers. Her free time is spent playing video games, bringing a chaotic evil DnD character to life, baby talking to her cat, and cramming as many new units of programming wisdom into her brain as possible.In our conversation today, Lucy shares how the lessons she learned while in the box office industry translate to her current role in tech.  Knowing how to remain calm and level-headed during a moment of crisis or facing bugs in the code while everyone else is losing their cool has proved to be wildly helpful and powerful now on an engineering team.She recommends keeping data on your day-to-day learnings of both your challenges and successes so that you can champion and advocate for yourself and authentically speak to the growth you've made.At Outreach.io, she founded a Trans Employee Resource Group and created a 101 course for folks to take action and educate themselves. She's a proud squeaky wheel there and advocates for change and they welcome her with open arms. Resources:Lucy’s LinkedInOutreach.ioFlatiron SchoolHectic - the freelancing app for everyoneVisit: GetHecticApp.com/WeBelongHere to start for free today!We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on Spotify We Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Mar 11

44 min 8 sec

Alex Trost grew up having, as he puts it, a fixed mindset. He studied graphic design and education in school and actually taught himself to program by making an app for his school when he was a teacher. In 2018, he realized he wanted to do development full time and has been a frontend dev ever since.Growing up, he was always passionate about tech and loved to tinker and build. So much so that he had a pet project called FreeBasketballSkills.com where he modified the HTML and CSS of the site to share basketball skills with his friends. Despite that, he never thought he could actually program because he equated that with calculus and complex math abilities. He thought he wasn’t smart enough to succeed in school, so wondered why even bother trying. He ended up going to community college to study graphic design. But eventually found himself in a career in teaching 2nd grade as he loved the moment of helping kids unlock new skills. Soon he learned about the Growth Mindset Concept and realized that he had always thought that because he didn’t currently understand something it meant that he never would know it. He discovered that we can in fact be good at whatever it is we set out and work to learn. He taught himself to code when he built an application for his school to make sense of all of the data the district had on their students’ performance. Eventually, he landed a role as a frontend developer and had the opportunity to do a ton of on-the-job learning. Today, he is a Developer Experience Engineer at Prismic and writes Frontend Horse, a newsletter and blog where he learns creative techniques from other great frontend developers. Alex brings with him what he learned in his past as an educator into his newsletters to ensure that they are accessible to a variety of skill levels. Resources:Frontend Horse The Overlap PodcastBear app - note taking & writing app The Learning Myth: Why I'll Never Tell My Son He's SmartDoing Content Right with Steph SmithFollow Alex on Socials:LinkedInAlex’s websiteHectic - the freelancing app for everyoneVisit: GetHecticApp.com/WeBelongHere to start for free today!We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Mar 4

49 min 2 sec

In today’s episode,  Dacey tells the story of studying Public Relations in school and pursuing many different avenues and industries to find a job she loved. She tried many different things from content management, social media, marketing, special education, and Non-Profit work.One day, during a series of dates where she and her boyfriend (now husband) taught one another new things, he tried to teach her HTML and CSS. But the lesson wasn't a success because she didn't think she'd be good at it and zoned him out.But eventually, she decided to build an app with him and they collaboratively built things that they were both interested in. He helped guide her self-learning and exposed her to core concepts and tools such as GitHub and pull requests.When she felt ready, she left her full-time job in March 2019 to search for a job.  She gave herself a year to learn the skills and wanted to be ready to apply to jobs by March 2020... which was a pretty rough time in the world to be applying to new roles! But she refused to let the pandemic get her down. Her husband and friend group helped her prep for interviews and built up her algorithm skills. She applied to 207 positions and got rejected 206 times. But she applied for a Sr. Developer role at This Dot and asked them to take a chance on her. And that they did! She came on via a contract, which helped her land her current job at TriggerMesh where she uses Javascript, Vue, and Cypress in her frontend role.Today, her work in special education still impacts her work in tech. She understands the accessibility needs that folks face and that drives her passion day in and day out. You can find her tweeting about how to make applications more accessible for someone with epilepsy or is visually or audibly impaired.Dacey reminds listeners that there is no age limit to learning to code.Early in her career, she felt frustrated with how quickly another new employee was closing tickets and performing on the job. She reached out to her boss and received feedback that has never left her: “To never compare yourself to anyone but yourself.”Resources:FreeCodeCampCodeAcademy FrontEnd mastersTriggerMesh This Dot  Women in Tech sessionsFollow Dacey:Twitter: @dacey_nolanDacey's LinkedInHectic - the freelancing app for everyoneVisit: GetHecticApp.com/WeBelongHere to start for free today!We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Feb 23

30 min 17 sec

Frank got his start in tech working at Apple’s Genius Bar doing all sorts of IT things. He loved Apple products and when a store was opening up near him, he jumped at the opportunity to work there.Realizing that a lot of IT work was within the PC world, he jumped from Apple to PC to see what it was all about. But ultimately he craved something that would be more fulfilling and creative.As a gamer himself, he became curious about how to create video games. Virtual Reality was super hot and he dabbled with VR and trying to build experiences despite there not being a ton of tutorials or docs out there on how to. He's a firm believer that you can teach yourself to do anything and in 2018, he joined as a mentor for Inspire Idaho, a program created for adults who weren’t able or interested in following traditional education paths to become app developers.  He became a volunteer and mentor for the program and helped people on their journey of learning iOS development. As he helped folks learn, he too began to level up his coding skills.He started with the question, what app do I want to build? And decided on an organization app for Dungeons and Dragons players. He learned how important passion is to your coding journey and tackled it piece by piece as opposed to getting overwhelmed by how big the project was.When he finally felt ready to begin applying for software development roles, he applied to over 100 jobs. He maybe got 5 interviews out of all of those applications. Ultimately he was hired by Gleason Technology as a Mobile Software Engineer in September of 2020! Frank finally landed his first software development role!We talk about that recent journey of interviewing and submitting over 100 job applications and what it takes to overcome imposter syndrome and finally land your dream job. We acknowledge how overwhelming it feels to finally feel ready to apply for your first software engineering role and the value in learning the art of interviewing itself.His past in retail helped him shine in his interviews in that his soft skills differentiated him from other candidates.We talk about the value of asking questions. His advice is to admit when you’re feeling emotions of imposter syndrome those around you. Nothing good comes from struggling alone - it’s important to rely on our communities to navigate those feelings.His advice is to find a project and commit to it. Every day, commit to learning one small thing. Reach out to your communities & know that we are all here to cheer you on. Resources:Steve Wozniak, What’s In My Tech Bag   Journey, the gameInspire IdahoApple Learn to Code with Apple100 Days of SwiftiOS Dev Happy HourFollow Frank of Socials: GitHubTwitter @ FrankeFosterFrank’s websiteBonus Interview: Greg Thomas: Code Your Way Up Reach out to Greg to get the book: codeyourwayup@betarover.com Ads: Hectic Freelancing app for everyone Visit: GetHecticApp.com/WeBelongHere to start 

Feb 16

1 hr 1 min

JT Kaufman dabbled in a whole lot of things before learning to code.  She worked as a nanny,  at a restaurant, as a janitor, and a load of different office work. At some point, she found her way into recruiting and eventually specialized within tech recruiting, which allowed her to learn about all of the different areas of tech.After realizing that she was burned out from recruiting,  lost, and unhappy in general, JT took a  massive leap of faith and moved across the country to attend a coding bootcamp. She is super creative and she discovered that learning to code would be a super creative form of expression. Code ignited passion for her from day one. We talk about how to differentiate yourself from fellow bootcampers and how to get your foot in the door as a developer. As a prior recruiter, she learned tips and tricks on how to smartly apply for jobs. She knew not to just apply for every role out there but instead use the boolean technique.  She landed a role and took those recruiting skills with her started out doing query construction with SQL. Instead of diving into React as so many bootcampers do, she specialized in Vue.js, which has allowed her to stand out as a candidate. And today, she is a Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat working on product vulnerability tooling.Despite not necessarily “needing it,”  JT is currently working to complete her  Computer  Science degree. She has loved the process of continuing her education and being challenged and pushed technicallyShe advocates for community and using Twitter, Slack, Discord, to find your community while learning to code. She shares tons of community resources for the listeners to check out!  Resources: - Open Source Software Degree on GitHub - Women in Tech chat online (but it’s by invite, if you DM JT, she’s happy to add you!)   - Frontend Foxes is a great group for learning frontend web technologies for women - CodeBuddies Slack has tech-specific channels, social channels, and pairing sessions - CodeNewbies Slack- CodeTheDream the nonprofit that creates a bootcamp-like experience with more structure than solo learning and is free!Socials:Follow  JT on Twitter at  @heyJTKRead her writing on dev.toConnect with her on LinkedInBonus Interview:Jennifer Brazer, author of From Cubicle to Cloud: How to Start and Scale a Virtual Professional Service BusinessHectic - the freelancing app for everyoneVisit: GetHecticApp.com/WeBelongHere to start for free today!We Belong Here Podcast:Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCodingWeBelongPodcast.comSubscribe on AppleSubscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

Feb 1

1 hr 5 min

My guest today is a self-taught engineer currently working as a Principal Software Engineer at Apple. With 20 years of experience in web development, she attributes her skills and success to being “passionately curious”. She has a deep affinity for gaming and is a published video game journalist. Her journey started when she was in middle school when her mom worked as an office administrator and brought home computer parts. Cher quickly became fascinated in taking things apart and putting them back together again.  She faced abuse and addiction early on in life and eventually dropped out of high school. She soon started doing sex work and stripping. It felt as though no matter where she went, that was her story. At that point, it felt entirely impossible that she was ever going to become a scientist or an architect and decided that if she was going to be used for sex anyway, she might as well be paid for it and do porn. She managed to escape that situation but as a result, she tried to end her own life and ended up spending 6 weeks in a mental institution.Cher eventually got pregnant, which helped her stop using drugs and stripping. In need of a job, she applied for a front end developer role and landed one because, throughout all of these hard times, she had been tinkering and building live journal templates and had become the second google result for “front end developer” in 2006. We discuss the sexism she faced when she started doing freelance work and quickly learned that clients did not trust or believe her to be both the designer AND the engineer. So instead had to pretend she wasn’t doing the backend work when she really was. Cher couldn’t afford a lot of data for her phone plan and so developed a lot of opinions about mobile development and soon became a leader in that up and coming space. Because of that expertise, USA Today took an interest in her, and although she did not know how to whiteboard and flopped the interview, she demonstrated her passion and willingness to learn, and thus they took a chance on her and she got her big break.  She went on to work at many different companies as a software developer and at Apple today, she is paid fairly and the end of her poverty debt is near! Over the past 20 years, she has learned the power of grit and resilience. She has had to navigate so many difficult life situations to survive. She brings the lessons she learned from those challenges and is capable of zooming out and seeing things from a broader perspective with the resolve that she is capable of solving any problem. Her life and story is beyond inspiring. It is packed with wisdom, advice, and an incredibly beautiful story of overcoming life’s largest obstacles. This episode is genuinely not one to miss! Resources: The Last Mile Changing Lives Through TechFollow Cher on Twitter Cher’s website  We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on SpotifyWe Belong Here Discord CommunityJoin us on Discord Server today! bit.ly/webelongdiscord 

E

Jan 25

52 min 22 sec

Jerome Hardaway is a writer at Stack Overflow, an Instructor for Front End Masters, a Developer Advocate at QuickenLoans, and the founder and Executive Director of Vets Who Code.As a writer and instructor, he focuses on those learning how to code and who are looking to get their first job as a Web Developer. As a Developer Advocate, he focuses on externally championing the company's tools while internally focusing on improving the culture. As an Executive Director of #VetsWhoCode, he focuses on training and gathering the resources so that veterans can become employed javascript developers, with a focus on Javascript and APIs.After an injury, Jerome medically retired from the military. Throughout his time in the service, he was told that his skills would be highly valued. But the government happened to be on a hiring freeze when he got out and thus those skills felt worthless. The transition process felt broken and not designed to support him afterward.He was determined to figure out his next steps but didn’t know where to begin or look. One day, he was on Facebook and noticed a commercial about coding. He happened to be at a bookstore and opened up a book on databases. A few months later, he landed his first role doing database analysis!He says that it was the tech skills that he had taught himself that had landed him that first job as opposed to his years in the service. He then went on to work as a Digital Marketing Assistant and was asked to maintain the company’s website and to learn Ruby and some PHP to do just that.After diving into the code and learning how to build within that tech stack, he realized the opportunity to teach veterans to code. He attended a coding program in New York and went on to found Vets Who Code, a 501(c)(3) Veteran Operated Non-Profit dedicated to training military veterans & giving them the skills they need to transition into tech careers.Resources:Vets Who Code:  a 501(c)(3) #Veteran Operated Non-Profit dedicated to training military veterans & giving them the skills they need transition into #tech careersFollow Jerome on Twitter: @JeromeHardawayFollow VetsWhoCode on Twitter: @VetsWhoCodePractical  Dev @ dev.to CSS Tricks - ServerlessHumane By Design Laws of UX by Jon YablonskiAds:Jennifer Brazer’s book From Cubicle to Cloud: How to Start and Scale a Virtual Professional Service Business  Shape and Foster lifestyle development app We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify

Jan 19

1 hr 7 min

On today’s episode, Lauren chats with Caitlyn Greffly, who made a bold career move in 2019 from selling beer to being a software engineer. She loves the work and is passionate about writing about it, talking about it, and encouraging others to make their own bold career changes. Caitlyn studied Psychology in college, but after graduating, she found a job working at a beer bar, which led her to spend 7 years within the beer industry doing mostly sales. She became pretty fascinated by beer itself but wasn’t passionate about selling it. She jokes that ‘All of her big decisions in life were accidents’ - but in a good way! She became curious about data analytics and began to explore new opportunities and coding bootcamps.  She is a person who takes big leaps and decided to go all-in on learning to code and the rest is history. She landed her first role out of her bootcamp pretty quickly and now is a software engineer at Zapproved. She quickly discovered how important it is to find a company with a safe learning environment and a good work-life balance. She now spends a lot of her time dedicated to helping career transitioners and supporting junior developers by sharing her experience. She encourages companies to look outside their traditional hiring pools to search for diverse candidates and is passionate about providing tools and resources for teams about how to support those new teammates. Caitlyn shares advice and wisdom for those curious to do as she did and take the leap of faith into the tech industry! Give a listen.Resources:Find Caitlyn on Twitter @thecaitcodeCaitlyn’s website Jennifer Brazer’s book From Cubicle to Cloud: How to Start and Scale a Virtual Professional Service Business  (11:05) Dan Moore’s book Letters To A New Developer: What I Wish I Had Known When Starting My Development Career  (28:10)Coupon code: WeBelongHere for 20% off on Apress.com We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Jan 12

38 min 17 sec

Today Lauren chats with Jonan Scheffler, who had over 40 jobs before entering the tech industry. He loved tech growing up but wasn't wildly intrigued or inspired by his CS classes and thus wasn’t interested in pursuing it as a career. He dabbled in various roles such as factory work, car sales, but eventually became a poker dealer on the Oregon coast. When he began searching for roles in tech, he googled who was being paid the most and decided he wanted to become a Ruby developer. He then took the massive leap of faith, moved his family across the country, and attended a coding program called Hungry Academy. He fell in love with Ruby as a language then and has stayed passionate about the community to this day. Jonan had faced some burn out in the realm of DevRel but has since returned and today is the Director of Developer Relations at New Relic. Lauren and Jonan chat about the world of Developer Relations and the disingenuine sales-pitches that can sometimes occur when someone doesn’t prioritize their developer communities. Throughout the conversation, it is evident how passionate Jonan is about creating authentic relationships and how excited he is to launch a new Dev Rel team at New Relic. They discuss how the other roles Jonan has had helps him today in his role in tech. Being a career changer informs his perspective. He shares advice, wisdom, and calls out to those looking to transition into tech directly, and encourages them to do it and take the leap into the unknown and pursue tech as a career. This episode is packed with resources, recommendations, and tips; it is not one to miss! --------------------------------------------------------------"Humans are different in complementary and beautiful ways. And to the extent that we are able to get more people with more interesting backgrounds in technology, we make technology better for everyone.We need you here.We want to support you.It's hard to remember that when you're out there sending resume after resume into the void.But hang in there; the world needs you.We need you in Tech.I'm really glad you're here.Please, keep it up."-- Jonan Scheffler --------------------------------------------------------------Resources:Follow Jonan on Twitter @thejonanshowJonan’s GitHubLearn to Program by Chris Pine Free Code Camp Bit ProjectSandi Metz’s Practical Object-Oriented Design We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Jan 4

33 min 4 sec

Today Lauren chats with Reyhaneh Blackman, who emigrated from Iran to the US when she was 12 years old. She didn’t know English and had to teach herself the language and culture at an incredibly formative time in her life. She studied English in college and her first career was in journalism. After that, she went on to get a Master's in international finance and economics and became an investment banker. And today, she’s gone on to found a tech company, Media Scout, a video analytics platform, and has since taught herself to code! She attributes the ability to be flexible, code switch, and wear many hats to learning to adapt to new situations and environments as a kid. We talk about her journey and Reyhaneh shares how all of the lessons she learned along the way have helped to get her where she is today.  Resources:Find Reyhaneh online @rey_blackman ProductPair.co  We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Dec 2020

36 min 48 sec

On today’s episode of We Belong Here, Lauren interviews PeterJohn Hunt. Who tells the story of how he went from convincing his first job to take a risk on someone who had literally zero formal education to becoming the Chief Technology Officer at Useful Group in Chicago. About PeterJohn Hunt: PeterJohn Lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife and children. He’s a self-proclaimed web developer and problem solver. He likes to bring the nitty-gritty of the technical world to people in an intuitive, analytical, and efficient way. Using his IT, networking, and programming background, he builds beautiful websites for people and businesses – from startups and local restaurants to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies. He believes every problem has a solution and loves the thrill of learning or building something new!PeterJohn Hunt is 1 of 9 children and was homeschooled throughout his educational career. He was interested in tech but didn’t have access to the traditional educational tools to learn it. He didn’t love the traditional parts of academia and thus was not ever curious about pursuing a college degree. After high school, coding wasn’t of interest to him as the stereotype of being a coder looked unappealing and tedious. So instead, he found a glorified internship skimming log files. Ultimately he became curious about automating that process, which ultimately was his introduction to coding in that he experimented with writing Python scripts to make his job go faster. Once he was able to see the value and application of learning technical skills, he became passionate about teaching himself and helping others solve real-world problems with code. It was then that he started knocking on doors, trying to convince employers to hire him as a software developer. He was looking for someone to take a risk on him and believe in his problem-solving abilities, even though he did not have a formal education in the subject, nor did he have much experience in coding. He promised a small agency that it would only take 4 weeks of online learning, and he would perform for them. And it worked! They took the leap of faith and hired him.Today, as someone in charge of hiring for Useful Group, he looks for those who have that same fire inside of them. He searches for candidates who can demonstrate self-owned learning and are curious to approach problems in an out-of-the-box manner.  Resources: Useful Group in Chicago Follow PeterJohn on Twitter @PeterJohnHunt PeterJohn’s websiteWe Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Dec 2020

37 min 36 sec

In this episode of We Belong Here, Lauren interviews Gant Laborde. They talk about how Gant was, in fact, “really bad” at computers when he was a kid. His light bulb moment was when his neighbor showed him how to make his computer *talk back* to him and say, “Hey Gant,” instead of “Hello World.” Books and learning resources were not available to him. So instead, he had to learn by breaking things. Gant had many limitations working against him: he always had the oldest computer and was pretty bad at math. But he refused to give up on his goals and dreams. Eventually, he did enroll in a Computer Science program but found it damaging in that it was painfully uninteresting or inspiring. However, he stuck with it and discovered the value in pursuing roles that challenged him to think beyond the basic execution of a problem and actively welcomed his unique perspective to the job.  Lauren and Gant chat about burnout and how the industry can sometimes beat the passion out of you in the industry. Open Source was the thing to reignite his love for the community and the tech industry itself. Today, as the Chief Innovation Officer at Infinite Red, he gets to go out into the wild and research cool things and bring that learning back to the company and essentially functions as a mad scientist for them! He shares loads of wisdom and advice for the listener who might be curious to break into tech. This is not an episode to miss! Resources: Follow Gant’s adventures at GantLaborde.comGant on Twitter: @GantLaborde Two Minute Papers  Infinite Red We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Nov 2020

36 min 19 sec

Kelly Mahoney is both a Digital Artist and Product Manager who got into design through hackathons - of which, she’s attended over 60 so far! She has her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religious Studies, in which she focused on cultural appropriation and East Asian religions. And she’s currently a graduate student at Florida International University pursuing an MBA in International Business. In today’s conversation, Kelly and I dive into her background in nursing and how it has helped her in her role in Product today. We discuss gatekeepers, the power of community, and Kelly shares advice on taking risks and pursuing your dreams. She’s the creator of SoSplush, a kawaii-themed tech brand, that sells stickers and other swag. She believes that tech is for everyone and that it can be cute and pink. She’s currently accepting commissions and is available for design consulting work. Be sure to check out her Etsy shop today!Resources:SoSpulsh Etsy Store Follow Kelly on Twitter @SoSplush We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Sep 2020

27 min 46 sec

Today’s guest on We Belong Here, Jayson J. Phillips, got his start in tech only after he dropped majoring in Computer Science and Math. In school, Jayson found the coursework boring, uninteresting, and truly hated Cal 3! But when he was working at Scratch DJ Academy, he began managing their website only to discover that the real-world applications of tech can in fact be super creative and compelling. He went on to do agency work and continued to learn on the job. He candidly likes to say that he went to the “University of Barnes and Noble” in that he would always dedicate some of his paychecks to new books on the technical topics he was most curious about learning. Today, he is the Director of Engineering for Bootcamp Academic Platforms at 2U Inc. Our conversation today explores the importance of teaching, giving back, and encouraging others as they embark on their journey of learning to code. We acknowledge how many coding boot camps there are out there. And so Jayson's advice for those considering a boot camp is to know both: what you want to dowhat environment you learn best in And then after knowing those two things, to dive into the research and to ask all of the possible questions to hopefully find the best fit. When researching boot camps, Jayson suggests that you evaluate:their instructorshow they treat their alumni and teacher assistantsthe structure of their payment plans the prework plan that is provided to prepare for their applicationAnd to use LinkedIn as a resource to connect with alumni and instructors. Jayson goes on to give loads of advice for those curious about entering the tech industry. This episode is packed with thoughtful and encouraging words of motivation - it is NOT one to miss! Resources:Jayson’s website Twitter: @_jjphillips Twitch channel: its_jay_phillz #pullupandcodeInstagram: jay.phillz2U Inc Media Developer Experts @ Cloudinary Code2040 We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Sep 2020

1 hr 22 min

Today Lauren chats with Tim Benniks, who is the Director of Web Development at a global digital agency, Valtech. Growing up, Tim’s passion was music. And he pursued it until deciding to train to become a nurse. Tim is personable and empathetic and felt that nursing was the right fit but eventually dropped out of his nursing program when the healthcare system in The Netherlands dramatically changed. He discovered then that he wanted to be able to do creative things and began tinkering and building websites on the side. Eventually, he decided to join an ad agency, which led him to Paris, where he worked with L’Oreal and helped guide their e-commerce and online brand presence. In today’s episode, Tim shares his philosophy on the importance of having patience in the workplace and encourages listeners to know what motivates them before seeking their next promotion. Resources: Join us LIVE on Twitch for the next #WeBelongHere interview twitch.tv/LoLoCoding Valtech’s Tech Girl Event Tim’s Website Tim’s YouTube Channel The Culture Map by Erin MyerWe Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Jun 2020

45 min 24 sec

Today, Bryan shares with Lauren his journey from studying philosophy and working in journalism to becoming a designer, developer, educator, and community advocate. In college, he fell in love with philosophy, deep thinking, aesthetics, and the nature of beauty and art. He’s passionate about discourse and dialogue and contemplates their intersectionality within tech today. After college, Bryan worked for a local newspaper as a copy editor. He was deeply ahead of his time with visions of taking the news and engaging with readers online. He began to teach himself some basic CSS, HTML, and Javascript while working with the Newspaper’s online content. He soon became proficient as a developer and went on to run and manage the development team at a web agency in Memphis, TN. Today, Bryan runs his startup, Code Contemporary, where he advocates for the technologies he’s most passionate about. He loves education and learning and loves to help people who are new to tech and are curious to learn more.  In this episode, Bryan shares advice for those curious to break into the tech industry. He encourages beginners to build what you’re curious about or need in your life. To deepen your understanding of those new concepts, Bryan suggests you teach others how to do so! When it comes to the web, he believes that we should be producers as well as consumers. We spend time discussing Linguistic Relativism and how we must stop associating tech only with business as there is a great benefit to perceiving tech as a hobby and curious DIY pursuit.  And thus, he encourages every listener to tinker and play with HTML and CSS and to explore web development as hobbyists without the pressure of becoming professional software engineers. Bryan believes that through teaching we learn and so he encourages everyone who is learning to code to teach their friends how to do so as well! Resources: Bryan’s Practical CSS Course with 50% discount code “WEBELONGHERE” Find Bryan: Twitter: @brobYoutube: Bryan Robinson Twitch: @bryanlrobinson Blog: bryanlrobinson.comRussian Blues: First study: https://www.pnas.org/content/104/19/7780 Second study: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797618782181 Article about both studies: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/our-language-affects-what-we-see/We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

May 2020

44 min 25 sec

On today’s episode of #WeBelongHere Lauren interviews Sia Karamalegos. Sia went from studying chemical engineering to being a semiconductor process engineer. She then went on to get her MBA at Harvard and worked in corporate strategy/consulting. She shares how quickly she burnt out from that role and wanted to get involved in public education reform in New Orleans. And only then, after tinkering and learning on the side, Sia won a Start-Up Weekend competition and a discounted coding boot camp tuition as a prize. That was when she decided to take her side hobby seriously and learn to code!Sia worked as a software engineer, taught at and created curriculum for a coding boot camp, and ultimately recognized the inner #girlboss hustler that she is and went on to become the founder and CEO of Clio + Calliope.  Sia shares lots of advice throughout the episode for those curious to take the leap and learn to code. Be sure to tweet at @LoLoCoding to join the conversation and enter a chance to win the $100 Amazon gift card giveaway! (Thank you to Cloudinary for sponsoring this giveaway) Resources: MDN Web Docs GDG New OrleansCloudinary Media Developer ExpertsGoogle Developer ExpertsWomen Techmakers Sia’s website: sia.codesFind Sia on Twitter @TheGreenGreek We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

May 2020

31 min 12 sec

On this episode of #WeBelongHere, Lauren interviews sisters Dana and Angela Chou. They host a podcast called, Work in Progress.  They believe that our careers should grow and change as we do: whether it is to find a career that suits us or a field that aligns with our philosophy, or simply to provide more for the family. They want to encourage those seeking change and those feeling stuck to make the transitions they want for themselves. Angela spent about 10 years working in biotech companies but in Operations roles. She got an MBA to transition to Product Management but shortly after being in Product decided to learn to code in order to transition to Tech!Today we discuss Angela’s career trajectory from Operations to Product as well as her coding journey along the way. As a Product Manager, she was asking her engineering team to build things and suddenly realized that she didn’t understand how the code work, which was when she decided to learn to code. She understood how important it was for her to understand what was going on within the code that she was asking her team to build. So started by teaching herself online with free resources and eventually attended a coding boot camp.  Dana tells us about the inspiration behind their blog and podcast, Work in Progress. In this episode, Angela shares advice for those curious to break into tech as she did. It is not one to miss! Resources:Work in Progress Podcast and Blog We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Apr 2020

44 min 38 sec

Alexandra Leisse and Lauren today discuss her journey from pursuing music professionally to becoming VP of Product at VIBBIO. Alexandra has her master’s degree in opera and stage performance from the University for Dance and Music in Cologne, Germany. After finishing school, she worked as a soprano at theatres and concert halls all over Germany while also starting up her own little web development agency.Since then, she’s moved to Norway and has gone on to find roles in user experience design and has spent over a decade in product related roles. Today, she’s the VP of Product at VIBBIO where she rebuilt the engineering team from the ground up, redesigned the application UI, and took full ownership of VIBBIO’s product strategy, in addition to her contributions to building the company itself. She’s the founder of Rails Girls Oslo and self-identifies as a ‘web rebel’. Today Lauren and Alexandra discuss the highlights of Alexandra’s musical career. She goes back in time to tell us about building her first website in 1995. Alexandra shares about the opportunity she saw in combining community building in the Linux world with social media. And soon landed a role as a community manager and has been in Product ever since!She wears many hats at VIBBIO today, a startup, where the leadership is made up of all women!Alexandra shares incredible advice for folks curious to enter tech and how to discover your passion and find your strengths within the industry. “Don't listen too much to what others think you can do and what others think that you're capable of. Because you don't really know that you're not capable of doing it until you've tried doing it...”Resources:Rails Girls Summer of CodeConnect with Alexandra on Twitter: @troubalex We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Mar 2020

34 min 4 sec

Paula Muldoon is a multi-talented violinist, software engineer, and composer based in Cambridge, UK. Currently, she is the concertmaster of the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra. Paula recently started DeskNotes, a YouTube channel with short videos full of tips for orchestral string playing. And soon she will be recording a CD of her own solo violin compositions! In 2017 she retrained at Makers Academy as a computer programmer and now combines violin performance with her career as a software engineer at Cambridge Cognition, where she writes code that is used for worldwide clinical trials. In this episode, Paula and I discuss her transition from a professional musician to software development and her experiences in both worlds. Resources:DeskNotes Paula’s websiteTwitter @FiddlersCodeFacebook Fiddlers CodeWe Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Feb 2020

22 min 7 sec

PJ Hagerty is the founder of Devrelate.io and a board member of Open Sourcing Mental Illness. He’s a developer, writer, speaker, conference organizer, musician, and Community Advocate. He’s known to travel the world speaking about programming and the way people think and interact while wearing many hats 🎩.As someone who was a part of the industry from the beginning, PJ defines DevRel for us to kick off our conversation. PJ worked at a deaf school and as a musician for many years before transitioning full time to tech. The lessons he learned prior to that transition have proven to be pivotal in his DevRel career in comparison to what his formal CS degree provided. He worked as a software engineer for many years and says he was “tricked into doing DevRel” when he gave a spontaneous lightning talk that ultimately turned into many many more talks! He went on to form a community team, continued to travel the world giving talks, and helped define and shape the DevRel space itself. Eventually, PJ started his own company, DevRelate, which offers Developer and Community Relations as a service. PJ is passionate about destigmatizing mental health in the tech industry and offers to collaborate and brainstorm ways to do so with listeners! This episode is packed full of advice and wisdom, especially for those interested in breaking into the DevRel space- be sure to give a listen!Resources: Open Sourcing Mental Illness Devrelate.io DevOps Days Buffalo CodeDazeElixirDazePJ's podcast: @Community_PulseFollow PJ on Twitter: @aspleenic We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Dec 2019

35 min 9 sec

Elyse Segebart is an artist by nature but took the plunge into tech at 27. She's a mobile application developer finishing her degree at Capella University where she is studying software development, is graduating September of 2020. She aspires to work fully remote in the future. She lives in the heartland with her boyfriend and is a role model for his 8-year-old daughter. Content WarningElyse advocates for women in traumatic and abusive situations having overcome these situations herself. Our conversation today covers topics on addiction, domestic abuse, and issues of mental health. She brings her whole self to our conversation and shares both encouragement and advice to those facing abuse and trauma. She speaks of how she overcame the obstacles that stood in her way and encourages those who similarly hope to follow their dreams of succeeding in the tech industry. She wants to help other women who have been in similar situations to know that there is a way out. She is your cheerleader and champion and this episode is genuinely not one to miss! Resources:  Mom’s in Tech Slack groupCodeNewbie podcast Getting Apps Done podcastFollow Elyse on Twitter @elyseis12We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

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Oct 2019

26 min 30 sec

Becca is a Front End Developer at Assemble Inc. who fell in love with the tech industry while working as the Marketing Manager for a JavaScript consultancy. She believes that user-centric development, collaboration, and strong communication help make better software. Since making the transition to software development, she has worked primarily in the JavaScript ecosystem and is particularly fond of React and CSS. Becca also helps organize the Seattle chapter of Write/Speak/Code and enjoys speaking at meetups and conferences, most recently participating as a panelist at Chain React 2019.Today Becca and I chat about our experiences in our first engineering roles after attending coding boot camps and how we somehow managed to survive. Becca tells the story of how she powered through the recovery process of the norovirus to complete her portfolio and application to land her current role.  Becca explains how helpful the lessons she learned while working with people and in marketing before transitioning to coding are and how grateful she is to have that prior experience to tap into each day now as a front end developer. She is able to tackle problems differently from others on her team and is forever aware of and concerned for the end user and their experience, which is an invaluable skill for any web development team.  Becca is brilliant and fun- this episode is not one to miss!Resources: Code Fellows Write/Speak/Code We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Oct 2019

21 min 47 sec

Kristen Spencer likes to say that she was a professional career sampler. She has worked in many random industries and has been able to successfully incorporate the plethora of lessons she learned into her role today as a Senior Developer at a digital consultancy agency, TWG in Toronto. After having her first baby, Kristen started a Cool Mom blog on WordPress when she ultimately discovered her interest in design and code. She then took a few day-long workshops on how to make small changes in the browser only to discover a 9-week long boot camp called Canada Learning Code- the first of its kind in Canada. She went on to teach at HackerYou and credits working as an educator to finding the role she has today as a Senior-level developer. Today, Kristen and I dive deep into topics such as imposter syndrome, the importance of negotiation, and the art of framing your narrative. This episode is packed with tips and advice for those entering the tech space via an unconventional route. It is not one to miss! Resources:Ladies Get PaidCanada Learning CodeFollow on Twitter @_KristenSpencerWe Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Sep 2019

29 min 42 sec

Aisha Blake arrived in Detroit in 2013 to serve as a Jesuit Volunteer. She then began working at Grand Circus and has taught web development to people of all ages in bootcamps, workshops, and online courses. She helped create their bootcamp program and craft their JavaScript curriculum. She eventually decided to pursue a full-time engineering role and today is an Application Developer for Detroit Labs. Aisha has a deep love for the tech community in Detroit. She’s passionate about community organizing and helps organize self.conference and . She has traveled all across the US to speak on web accessibility, diversity & inclusion in tech, and how to give feedback fearlessly. This episode of #WeBelongHere is packed full of thoughtful dialogue spanning topics from race and gender to self-advocacy and the power of song and community. Aisha shares advice on how to teach yourself the skills to survive and thrive in the tech industry. Resources: Aisha’s Blog Aisha.CodesTwitter @AishaBlake   self.conference We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Aug 2019

24 min 38 sec

Tiffany Pena is a homeschooling mom of 3 girls from Texas. She’s also a Software & Web Developer student at Capella University, where she will graduate in December with a Bachelor's Degree! She has a vast background in Business and Finance and is an advocate for women in difficult situations. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, hiking, coffee & her 3 Cardigan Welsh Corgis.  Back in 2016, she knew she wanted to go back to school to complete her Bachelor’s Degree and was considering becoming a CPA but began exploring web design and discovered the world of web development. In today’s episode, we chat about Capella’s diverse curriculum, the neat projects she’s worked on using Java and PHP, and how she has figured out a way to balance her career goals and love of being a stay at home mom. We discuss how the skills from her time in business and finance have set her apart from her classmates but also how the lessons she’s learned from motherhood and home-schooling has helped her differentiate herself and diversify her skill set as a developer. We dive deep into the power of a support network and a community to help persevere in moments of great stress and confusion. Tiffany shares some great wisdom and advice- this episode is not one to miss! Resources: Capella UniversityMoms in Tech Slack channel Follow Tiffany on Twitter @CodngAtTiffanys We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Aug 2019

14 min 42 sec

Bekah Hawrot Weigel is a mom to four adorable young kids and has spent the past ten years of her life teaching literature, writing screenplays, pilots, a memoir. She started off studying English at university and then worked as a community organizer for an environmental nonprofit. She then got her masters in English and taught a variety of classes as an adjunct instructor. After having her fourth child, she faced a great deal of trauma when her two of her internal organs ruptured and left her to face a year of her life in which her body was in a state of recovery, leaving her unable to do the normal things she had before. Bekah shares how her mental health was impacted by that experience in that she had depression, panic attacks, and PTSD. Despite everything that was on her plate at that time, her husband encouraged her to try and learn to code. She resisted at first but eventually gave in and dove into FreeCodeCamp’s  JavaScript course. Learning that new skill allowed her to breathe, rest, escape and conquer those moments that had been so negatively shaping her past year. It felt incredibly empowering for her to be able to build and create something in front of her eyes and thus through Moms Can & Co, she received the @Facebook Breakthrough Scholarship a scholarship to attend the Flatiron School, from which she recently graduated! Bekah has since found an incredibly supportive first role and she shares thoughtful advice and suggestions for those curious to enter the industry themselves.Resources:CodeNewbieFlatiron SchoolMoms Can & CoFind Bekah online:BekahHW on Twitter & Instagram BekahHW.github.ioWe Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Jul 2019

30 min 2 sec

Michelle Brenner and I chat today about the transferable skills she learned while studying art and working as a support engineer in the film industry that help her today as a Senior Backend Engineer at ChowNow. In art school, she learned to accept and listen to critiques which has proven to be incredibly helpful during code reviews as an engineer today. Early in her career, as a support engineer in visual effects at Sony Picture Imageworks, she was encouraged to automate parts of her job and thus taught herself Python. Michelle works tirelessly to promote diversity and inclusion in tech by organizing events, mentoring, and conference speaking. She also runs an interview format tech podcast called From the Source to answer the question of what tech jobs are really like- be sure to go check it out! Resources:From the Source podcastWrite Speak CodeTech By Choice Find Michelle on Twitter: @MichelleLynneBWe Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Jul 2019

20 min 40 sec

Today, Chris and I chat about his path to becoming an Architect at Microsoft. After graduating from college with a degree in communications, Chris tried his hat at pioneering podcasts and shares the challenges of trying to circulate content without the internet in the ’80s. He eventually learned to program while working in IT. And although his first company believed that a requirement to be an engineer was to have a CS degree, he soon found a company that was excited for him to join their team as a software developer. There they didn’t care about his degree, but rather what he capable of building and creating. And build he did. He went on to develop one of the first ever Java integrated development environments, he released his first iOS app to the app store the day it originally opened, and he has dozens of patents in the field of user experience and digital photography.Chris believes that software engineering is a team sport and that there’s great importance in building a strong group of diverse individuals to come together to work collaboratively. We dive into the problematic nature of traditional whiteboarding interview techniques and he shares ideas of how we can improve that process. He encourages listeners to go check out the new Edge Browser and is eager to hear feedback from listeners- so go make some pull request folks! Chris is an incredible ally and advocate for those entering tech via unconventional paths and I feel so happy to had the chance to interview this today. This episode is not one to miss!Resources:Find Chris on: Twitter Instagram Linkedin We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Jun 2019

38 min 40 sec

Lauren Granger began their career working with adults experiencing homelessness in Seattle.Lauren’s path to social work began on the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration when during his speech, he encouraged every person to get involved and volunteer. And that they did; Lauren dedicated the next decade of their life to giving back to their community. They managed low-income houses and did incredible work for individuals facing homelessness in Seattle's community. Pivoting from work in social service work, Lauren then attended Ada Developers Academy to learn to code and is a Software Development Engineer today at Amazon. They work on the Freetime team, which works to offer peace of mind for parents of young children. Lauren and I dive deep into the power of volunteerism and giving back to our communities. We discuss the importance of finding your people, active allyship, and how to use the professional skills we bring with us to the table from prior life/work experiences to succeed in our careers in tech. Resources: Downtown Emergency Service Center Ada Developers Academy Find Lauren Granger on Twitter & LinkedInWe Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

Jun 2019

41 min 28 sec

Today, Jessica and I chat about the path she took to become a Developer Advocate at Google. After studying Sociology and Education in college, Jessica dedicated herself to working for both Girls Inc. and Girl Scouts. After five years of doing that, she transitioned her focus onto mental health advocacy work. After facing some extremely difficult tragedies in that role and receiving encouragement from friends and family, she decided to take a class at her local college to learn C++ in hopes of transitioning yet again. That was the moment she fell in love with programming and the rest is history! She attended Hackbright Academy and even went on to teach there for a few years afterwards. Today, she is a Developer Advocate at Google, where she creates content in innovative ways to help other developers build with Google Assistant. We speak about the power of community and the importance of relationships in this industry. Jessica shares incredible advice on how to leverage those relationships while job hunting. She provides tips for those interested in exploring a role within Developer Relations and presents some tangible ideas to help recruiters find you. Jessica is an absolute rockstar and is ever so inspiring- this episode is not one to miss! Resources:Find Jessica online:Twitter Instagram We Belong Here Podcast: Follow Lauren on Twitter @LoLoCoding WeBelongPodcast.com websiteSubscribe on Apple Podcasts Subscribe on Spotify LoLoCoding.com 

May 2019

25 min 45 sec