Whew. I thought 2013 was fast. 2014 was bananas. I think I’m a bit rusty from not writing as much as I ought to, so let’s just jump right in!
In February, I received a letter of acceptance from my absolute dream graduate school to teach high school mathematics. In what has become a theme, it was something I’d worked incredibly hard for over a long period of time to achieve, and I actually made it. I knew what I would do before I even got the letter, but that didn’t actually make it any easier – I turned them down, not only because it would have increased my debt by 130% from what is already a serious amount of money, and not only because I never would have made anywhere near enough to have repaid this ~$100k of loans, but for a host of other reasons as well. With a heavy heart, I emailed my amazing advisor and advocate at the school, a nearly two year relationship, to let her know I wouldn’t be enrolling.
So I threw myself into computer science study. With PyLadies, and my last quarter of school to complete my French degree and Math minor, I busted the proverbial it to get a job, which I did, literally the day I was done with my final FINAL exams, hopefully ever : )
The job started as an internship with lots of hands-on pair coding with my boss, “how would you solve this problem,” “let’s refactor together,” along with some “hey would you reach out to this person to sponsor (x),” which was great! I got to use a way nicer computer (macbook O2) than I had (a lovely old giant brick of a PC laptop on which I installed Ubuntu 12.04), and I finally started using git at the command line. It became pretty quickly evident that we worked together fabulously, and we started to think about what kinds of projects we could do together, so we started working on new ideas, largely centered on education. It was, actually, an incredible collaboration.
We thought topics and people for Security in Python, Data Science in Python, Twisted, Django From the Actual Beginning, and a few more that I’m sure I’m missing – it was rather a fire-hose of ideas! My boss was the kind of person who had six good ideas before breakfast, and it was a fast-paced, sometimes stressful, REALLY productive space for six months.
While there, I learned git to a granular degree and now lead a monthly workshop on it and plan to lead/teach the PyLadies annual course on it as well, and while I didn’t improve my Python chops much, I learned a lot about how computers are really working, under the hood – well, under a relative hood, I got into no hardware, lol, not at all. The
sys modules, jeez! I’ve been saying lately that it’s those two modules that turn Python from an expensive calculator into something really powerful.
I also, god-willing, learned a bit of project & people management the hard way. I don’t ever want to do that again, hooray! It’s good to know, especially considering that women are often directed from engineering career paths to soft-skill positions – now I know what to push back against.
We settled into a Python tutorial with a local $TOPIC_IN_PYTHON expert, and worked really hard on outlining, scoping, creation, refinement, refactoring, presentation, program executability, git monsters, project jupyter/pip/virtualenv & dependency concerns, and so many other logistical issues.
After we flew to the place to film it, the company we’d signed the contract offered a counter-contract, letting us off the hook, and decided not to publish it after all. While honestly heartbreaking, there was a serious amount that we all learned.
UNEMPLOYMENT OH NOES
While scrambling to find a new gig after my internship ended, I stumbled on a number of really awesome opportunities, and though I only was offered one – obviously I stopped looking once I got an offer – I met and now keep in touch with many of the folks I interviewed with, because while it didn’t work out, these are all really neat people at really cool companies, so that has been really validating.
I was strictly unemployed for all of two weeks before I got an offer from Puppet, where I’ve been since mid October, and totally in love with my job. 2014! WOW.
This year, I will be learning the ins and outs of system administration, I’ll become Puppet certified, I’ll learn Ruby, and I’ll be dipping my toe into web app development as well, all while being part of the neatest leadership team of ladies ever with PyLadies PDX. I think I’d like to get Red Hat certified, or close to it, as I’ve come into Puppet without any sys admin background, and that’s something I’d really, really like to be good at at the new spot. I continue to be amazed by how well I am treated in my new career and how much I can do for people, even while clawing at so much more – frustration at the not-knowing-enough is a constant underlying anxiety for me at the new job, and I suspect that will continue for some time, and which in fact is a good thing. Studying math, and trying to stay aware of what’s Going On in tech, is a pretty good primer for the huge amounts of Not Knowing involved in working in tech, for probably at least the first few years.
WHOO! Onward and upward, or as they say, “Up and to the right!”
Its been so incredible to watch you grow this year Rachel, you are an inspiration! I am so glad you have ended up with a job that values you and your skills. Keep on rock’n, captain
it is YOU that is the captain!
Yes, I’ve been really impressed by your progress this year. Nice job!
You might consider http://training.linuxfoundation.org/linux-courses/system-administration-training/linux-system-administration as an alternative to RedHat Certification. Depending on your goals, it might be a better fit. I hate to see you getting locked into a RedHat specific program, as Debian/Ubuntu are also widespread and quite different in some ways.
Happy New Year!
I love that, actually – thank you for the reminder. Ahhhh we need FOSS people everywhere, to remind people to stop defaulting to the paid, walled-garden format out of laziness. I’ll bring this up at our staff meeting – there are at least a few of us who would really love just some generalist sysadmin knowledge, so, yeah, it doesn’t have to be RH focused at all.