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Yolanda Haynes - Breaking into Tech: It Takes Time

Season 5, Episode 4 | April 13, 2022

In today's episode, Dan and Bekah talk to Yolanda Haynes about her journey into tech and how she created her own path and experiences, including joining Virtual Coffee, 100devs, and Collab Lab.


Yolanda Haynes

A career changer from working in healthcare as a COTA (certified occupational therapy assistant) to a Software Engineer.

Show Notes:

This week Bekah and Dan sat down with Yolanda Haynes, a career changer who went from working as a certified occupational therapy assistant to a Software Engineer, about the importance of finding community during your learning journey, and remembering that you shouldn’t judge your journey based on anyone else’s; focus on the learning journey, absorbing what you can, and preparing yourself for your future.

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Transcript:

Bekah:

Hello, and welcome to season five, episode four of the Virtual Coffee podcast. I'm Bekah. And this is a podcast that features members of the Virtual Coffee community. Virtual Coffee is an intimate group of developers at all stages of their coding journey. And they're here on this podcast, sharing their stories and what they've learned. And we're here to share it with you here with me. Today is my cohost Dan.

Dan:

Yo what's up, Bekah! Today we talked with Yolanda Hanes. Yolanda is a career changer. She was previously working in healthcare as a certified occupational therapy assistant and, um, switched to doing development. And so we talked about her decision-making process through that, um, her journey through, um, you know, learning, learning on your own, then some bootcamp stuff she did. Um, A 100Devs, um, and Collab Lab, which I was like, which she shared a lot about. And, um, it sounds like a very cool experience for her. And, um, yeah, I don't know. What else did we talk about?

Bekah:

No. I love being able to talk to her journey and hear what she thinks like in retrospect of that journey, because there's always that I want to do all of the things and try all of the things and everybody else is going so fast and I'm going slow or not at the same pace. And she talks about the impacts of being a mom on that. And so it's really great to hear those reflections because I think they're super insightful for anybody who's learning anything.

Dan:

Yeah, absolutely. Um, no, I, I love hearing about it too. And I was wondering, you know, Started out doing all this stuff long before there are any bootcamps, you know, at all. I always wonder, uh, how, you know, I think it might've been different. Um, if there, that, that was available at the time. Um, and now there's of course too many options, but it's like swung the other way. Um, but it was, it was cool hearing it from Yolanda cause she's, she tried a few different or did a few different things and, um, I think it was pretty successful at all of them.

Bekah:

Yeah, for sure. She did an excellent job, like piecemealing together, a pretty good educational path for herself. And like you said, that could be really hard. Cause there, there is so much out there and you kind of have to wade through a lot of different things to figure out what works for you and gets you where you need to be.

Dan:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, we had a great time talking with Yolanda and I know you're going to enjoy listen to it.

Bekah:

We start every episode of the podcast like we start every Virtual Coffee. We introduce ourselves with our name, where we're from, what we do and random checking question. We hope you enjoy this episode. Today's random check-in question is what's your go-to snack when you don't feel like making a full meal. So my name is Bekah. I am a technical community builder from a small town in Ohio. And for the last three days, I've eaten Chips and salsa. for almost every single meal. So that is for sure, my, my go-to answer here.

Dan:

Chips and salsa. Always good. Um, hi, I'm Dan. I do web development from, uh, in Cleveland, Ohio, and, um, Yeah, I dunno. I think in those situations, I like to go the lowest effort possible. Um, if I, if there's like apples in the fridge, that's going to be, that's going to be a big one, you know, and just like, kind of take it out and eat it. Um, or a banana or something like that. You know, if there's like

Bekah:

you keep your apples in the fridge. Are you supposed to do that?

Dan:

uh, I think it keeps them fresh. They're long, fresh, longer. Maybe. I, I don't know. I like when they're cold, I don't, I don't know why, but, um, The, I, I just always have, I don't. No, no, no, no. I don't know.

Bekah:

I wasn't sure if I was doing it

Dan:

I don't think there's like, I think it just like was like store-bought ones, especially, it just keeps them fresh longer. It like, you know, makes them last longer. I think that's, I think that's the main thing. There's nothing wrong.

Bekah:

you don't keep in the fridge. Cause then they get grainy. But apples don't right.

Dan:

I don't know, that's it. That's all I got. I, I, my, my cold apples, that's my snack.

Yolanda:

hello. Um, my name is Yolanda I'm from San Diego, California, and my role is a junior software engineer. Um, my go-to snack or easy meal. Um, so there's this Japanese thing called Ochazuke, and that's the easiest meal I can make. It's rice hot water, and there's like a packet of, um, um, flavor. And then you just. Pour hot water over that packet of flavor and rice. And that is like the easiest meal. It's not really a snack, but it's my go-to when I don't feel like cooking at all, the rice keeps me full and it's just like this hot water. It's just a blend of happiness. So that, that is kind of my go-to, um, easy meal slash snack. Uh, but I did not know you weren't supposed to put tomatoes in the fridge cause I do it.

Bekah:

I've heard that it makes some grainy

Yolanda:

But I keep my apples on the counter. So I don't know.

Bekah:

tomatoes go really bad, fast too. If you keep them on the counter. So you just have to eat them really quickly. I feel.

Yolanda:

Got it.

Bekah:

I don't know. I, um, one of my favorite things I've done in the last year, I always saw, like, you could buy packets of rice that you heat up in the microwave. It's like 90 seconds. And like, it doesn't even take that long to make rice. Why would you do that? And now I have like a cupboard stash full of 90-second rice. Cause it's so easy.

Yolanda:

Is it, is it good? I don't think I've tried that.

Bekah:

It's decent. I like to buy the Jasmine rice. Um, and that, I feel like it's probably better than what I make on the stove top, because I normally forget that I'm making rice and then I'm like also way more likely to burn it. So you cannot, well, as far as I know you can't burn it in the microwave. I could probably find a way to do that. too, though.

Yolanda:

I guess it's opposite for me, Asian household. So I have a rice cooker and it's. There's always price. There's never a time. So it's just, I don't think I've ever burnt rice because rice cooker kind of it's easy peasy just to kind

Bekah:

oh, I think I burnt it in the rice cooker before. I think I had to throw away my rice go.

Dan:

Should've put it in the fridge.

Bekah:

Um, well, this is not a podcast about all of the ways I've ruined food. So we will go ahead and talk about what we're really here to talk about, and that is Yolanda. So, um, we're so happy to have you here with us, and we always like to start off with your origin story. So, you know, where are you from and how have you gotten to this point in your tech journey?

Yolanda:

Um, good question. Let me try to make it short. I don't want to take too much of the time. Um, so I born and raised in San Diego. I. I'm a career changer. So I used to work in healthcare before I became a software engineer, but my start of the journey was probably my first, um, PC family PC. I want to say it was windows 3.1 was the LS and. I thought I was a bad-ass by taking apart my family computer and you know, just saying, oh, okay, this is, this is what the inside of the computer looks like. You know, you know, unplug everything. I think it's called like a VGA cable, the HDM, I don't even think there was each of the airlines then, but just all the cables and then open up the family computer and was just try to take out some stuff. Yeah. And I'm like, okay, let me put it back together. And I thought, oh, I'm a hacker now. Like, I can, I can do this. So that was probably my first taste of tech was kind of doing that. And then,

Bekah:

So you did put it back successfully though. Cause I was waiting for, and then it didn't

Yolanda:

I mean, yeah, I don't remember getting in trouble or anything breaking. I think literally it was just unplugging everything, opening the computer case. And maybe take out around, I am not quite sure. And then just kind of, you know, put everything together and then turn on the computer and it worked as if nothing happened. So yeah, that was kind of, I was very curious and I like to work with my hands. That was, that kept me busy. Um, and then. Played a lot of those free games, uh, that came with the computer. So, uh, I think space cadet was the one it's like a pinball machine. And there was like a, it came with a computer free trial or whatever, and we didn't, you know, buy games. So that was play the same pinball machine over and over again. Um, and then. I started learning how to type was in middle school cause they had those typing program classes. So I really enjoyed that. Um, got a really good knack at that. And then high school, I started messing around with, um, trying to fix other people's computer. I was helping out a neighbor missing with their bios cause they had at that time was windows Vista and she just had some difficulties with that. And then. But I had to had my now husband back then was my boyfriend's help. Cause he was also into tech. So college, I was thinking of doing computer science. So I took a comp psych 1 0 1 class and then I had a friend and they told me like, oh yeah, you gotta be really smart and really good to find a job in this field. And at that time off, this was over over 15 years ago. didn't have the nice gooeys that we have today. So when you, you know, try to, I think it was Java and compile it, it gives you an error and it says, oh, between lines, this and that, but there's no red squiggly lines. It was just like, find what's wrong with it. And I would spend hours just trying to find what I missed and there'll be a misspelling or a semi-colon, you know, something, something basic. But I wrote the code, so I didn't see it. You know, when I asked my friend, you know, they'll see it. And they're like, oh yeah, It's it's right there. And I'm like, oh, thanks. Um, but he's like, yeah, if you want to find a job in this field, you gotta be like really smart and like, oh, that's that's, that's not me. So I, um, I sticked with, uh, my original major, which, which was Japanese. Cause I was thinking of going to the linguistics route then. And so I graduated with that with a minor in media arts and technology, because I still wanted some sort of tech, um, learning. So that's what I did. Then I

Bekah:

okay.

Yolanda:

went abroad. Worked, um, and taught English in Japan for about two years and then came back and thought, oh, what am I going to do? Then I did occupational therapy, assistant route. So I was in that field for about five to six years. Then COVID hit, lost my hours. Then I learned how to code. So that's where I started my coding journey, October of 2020. Then I found a job December of 2021. So kind of took a little over a year and hearing. With you guys today?

Bekah:

awesome. You have like a couple career pivots, right? Because your major is Japanese and Utah, and then you did the occupational therapy route and then came over to tech

Yolanda:

Yes. It was a windy, windy journey. I mean, I had other jobs. I think I was an afterschool program aid. Then I was a dance instructor in between, so I did a lot of odd jobs here and there before right here. Right? Yeah.

Bekah:

That's awesome. Um, and I know as you're learning, I want to talk about your learning journey, because I think that you've done a lot of cool things and in somewhere along the line, you also had a kid. And so that impacts your journey too. So let's maybe not talk about the kid yet and talk about, uh, you know, what, what organizations or, or what, um, like. Things did you do to help you stay on track with learning, how to code.

Yolanda:

Good question. Um, I think. So I tried a couple of times trying to learn how to code. Uh, I definitely bought a, you dummy course and it was like, here's how to build your first website or a complete website. So I did that from start to finish and then thinking, oh, okay. That's it? I think that was like 2015 or later or earlier, or, yeah, sorry, my times off. But, so I did that and then, um, nothing came about, and then. I wanted to do a career change, uh, with another friend who was also a Coda. And we were like, oh, we need to figure out, like, how are we going to what's the, you know, the end goal? Cause we can't keep transferring patients in our sixties or seventies. I mean, technically we can, but it's not best on our body. So we're like, okay, maybe we should really focus on learning how to code. So we tried the Odin project. And then, um, I tried that and then she had some, um, she had to deal with some, you know, family stuff. So she had to put that on pause and I was by myself again. I'm like, oh, okay. So. Happened. And then I found a 100Devs Leon's class and it was like a free bootcamp has been founded, like I think through Reddit and I thought, okay, well it's free. I lost my hours during this pandemic in 2020. And when it hurts. So that's how I started really focusing on learning how to code because the community was just there. Um, there was a lot of people I could just kind of rely on and have that accountability. So I did that. Well doing part-time work while taking care of the kid and just being in that community was helpful. And then during that commute, um, learning, I, my teacher or Leon said like, oh, networking is very important. And then, um, I found a Virtual Coffee now I found somebody posted, say, Hey, you should check out Virtual Coffee. And that was like November of 2020. And yeah. And then I just kind of listened to. All the devs in there, you know, or people in tech, their journey, how they studied or, you know, their explanation of things. And that was helpful. So I kind of tried to combine listening to that. Doing Leon's class. And of course doing outside stuff, like the free code camp, I dabbled into it a little bit, trying to solidify those basic foundations, uh, and other free courses. I think there's like, that I probably, you know, dabbled in, so here and there, but I definitely was one of those people. Bite off way more than I can chew. So I think it's the fear of missing out. That was like the, the number one thing. Like I gotta do them all. I have to, if I don't, I'm not going to get it. So Leon's class free code camp scrim, the right networking, Virtual Coffee, you know, these other communities. I got to do them all because if I don't, you know, I'm not going to be successful. And, uh, yeah, definitely burnt out here and there throughout the.

Bekah:

Um, can you tell us a little bit more about learn with Leon? We've had a big influx of a 100Devs, and I think somebody told us that, um, His post about a 100Devs was one of the. top two most viewed posts on Reddit or something like that. So it's really taken off recently, but I've heard a lot of positive experiences from there. And I'm just curious how things work with that.

Yolanda:

Uh, yeah, I, this year is just crazy amount of people who joined. I think the first session Leon had. Views on his Twitch. And that is, that was just crazy. Yeah. When I started, I want to say we had about 3000 at the start, maybe two. And that, uh, and that was like his somewhat first time of doing it. I think you had a five week course prior to doing the a hundred Debs. Um, but when he did the official 100Devs in October of 2020, I think there was about two, maybe 3000 of us. Um, one guy Leon does live Twitch streaming twice a week for three hours, and then he has office hours for three hours. And then we just. Go, he does life coding and then we follow along and then he assigns homework. Um, so experience, this is my first boot camp, so there's nothing much for me to base or compare it to. Um, and I've tried to learn how to code on my own and I failed miserably. So, um, yeah, Leon's class helped me at least a little fight that foundation and allowed me to kind of expand. My skillsets through that. So I liked it because it helped me stay focused I guess, and not do too many things at once. So I thought, okay, Leon's class, let me just commit. This class is Tuesday, Thursday. I have to be on class. So I would change my work schedule to make sure I make it to those class because I'm one of those people. If I miss a class, I, I don't know if I'm have enough time to play catch up. So. it, if I'm sex, sex, sex full, I can't even say this word is then if I'm at that class, I I'm there. I'm going to learn. And, um, the chances of me to be, um, to find a job in the end will help me. Then I will do whatever I can. So, you know, talk to my husband and say, Hey, can you watch the little one? Okay. Talk to all my patients. Hey, I'm this block. I can't see you because I'm busy. So. And it was helpful for, to establish that. And then I relied on that discord community because when I have questions about homework, I'll reach out, say, Hey, I don't get it. I don't understand Java script. I don't, it doesn't make any sense to me, you know, and then going through Virtual Coffee, I was like, I don't get JavaScript. Am I ever going to get it? Like I, how do you guys get it? And it's, it was very comforting to hear stories, you know, people would say, yeah, it sucks. At first, it's going to click, it's going to take some time. Don't worry about it. Or, Hey, try these resources. It might click seeing it this way. So, um, I hope that answered your question. I think I, I went, I deviated.

Bekah:

no. That was great.

Dan:

We're all about meandering topics here. It's the best way to it's the best way to be.

Bekah:

Where were the hours? The office hours live stream to

Yolanda:

Yes. So he was live. Originally it was on Saturdays and then he switched it to Sundays for three hours. So I think in the beginning it was like homework review, and then it became more of just a, if you have questions, I'll answer it. So he'll open up and there'll be like a flood gates of questions and he'll answer it live. So sometimes it'll be about the homework. Sometimes it'll just be about the dev journey, um, or, you know, S. Not understanding the syntax of something and he'll go over it or he'll try to show it in a different way. So for me, that was helpful because it just kind of, um, that review Liz was nice. So I liked it. It was helpful.

Dan:

That's really cool. I mean, that's a pretty interesting, I think pretty unique, uh, approach and it sounds, I mean, a lot of people seem pretty into it, so

Yolanda:

Yeah. It's I think it's cool. Um, just a lot of work. It's you have to put in the effort. Um, I, like I said, I don't have any other bootcamp experience, so this is like really relying on yourself and others. Um, and from, I guess what I've heard other people who's been through bootcamp and physically been through bootcamp. There's this kind of nice. Face-to-face, you know, you could directly ask the teacher exactly at that moment when you have, you know, questions and the accountability, I have a feeling as much higher doing in-person bootcamp. Um, and then also you pay, so you really want to make sure that you complete this bootcamp while this was free, but it kind of gives you that if you have other priorities, you don't feel like you have to pick one or the other. You could always try to play catch up. Um, and there's no money lost only time. a bad thing. Um, but I like it. It was enjoyable and I'm helping out right now as a mod. So trying to give back

Dan:

Nice. That's

Yolanda:

I can.

Dan:

That's really cool. I, um, you said something about. You know, when you, when, when you first started this, how and how it helped you, you know, sort of focus your learning energy, you know, like kind of direct it. And I think that's a, I think that's something I wanted to call it too, is, is it's an important thing to do. And it's one of the. When people are talking about learning, you know, and they're, and they're just starting out. It's, it's one of the biggest reasons for, for, for doing some sort of class, something structured, a bootcamp or a, uh, course, or the hunter Devacy knows Tyler or whatever. Um, but there is, there's just so much that you could learn. Right. And it's almost impossible to just, uh, on your own when you, when you don't know anything to start, it's almost impossible to self-direct yourself through. Uh, without, without a plan, you know what I mean? Um, so we've, I've, I've, I've heard other stories, you know, it's kinda similar experiences of, you know, being like, just going all over the place, stuff, stuff, getting overloaded. Right. And then, uh, yeah. And then, and then like something like the course or whatever will help you kind of narrow it down. Um, I think it's important. I'm glad it obviously worked out. It worked well for you.

Yolanda:

It did it, did. I had to like, think about it too. I was like, what's the best way to describe this, you know, feeling in experience and I, and the best one I could think of is, um, you know, when you go into like an, all, you can eat sushi bar or like, you know, a buffet and you are just overwhelmed. This plethora of like food and you're like, where do I start? I'm going to eat it all. And that's what I feel like was the starting of the coding journey. It's like people say, oh, you got to learn, you should learn Python. You shouldn't learn. Excuse me, Java, JavaScript, HTML, CSS. And you're like, okay, sure. So I'm like going to down the buffet line and just grabbing. And that's, that's how it felt like in the beginning was like, okay, I should grab them all. I need to grab them all. If I don't, I'm going to miss out. And if I miss out, I'm going to miss, you know, I won't know the taste of this delicious food. And I feel like that's how it was in the beginning before I finally slowed down to one plate.

Bekah:

I love it. That's such a great analogy. And people often ask too, like, well, what are you interested in doing? And, and kind of like, you're saying like, well, you haven't had a taste of everything. So if you want to know what you're interested in, then I guess you should probably sample all of the things, you know, which is really not probably it's. I think It's really hard to know what you're interested in until you really have tried it for awhile.

Yolanda:

It's like asking a kid, what do you want to be when you grew up? I mean, they could answer, but it's always changing and I don't know. I, your kid, I feel like for me, at least it's like, I want to do, I want to be a pediatrician? No, I like animals. I don't want to be a vegetarian. He was just like, I don't know what I really want to do. I still

Bekah:

my daughter once said she was like, I either want to be a princess, a cat or a doctor. And I was like, all right, well, that seems pretty easy, doctor.

Dan:

Go for cat. Cat seems like a really good life. If you, I mean, if you have a good home anyway, I feel like if you're a cat, you have it set, right? Um, yeah, no, that's a great point. And you know what, honestly, it, it, uh, So when you were talking about your, um, you were in college and the intro to CS class, and sort of made that choice to, you know, that's an experience, a lot of people have too. And like, you're talking about what do you want to be when you grow up when you're a kid, but that question like hangs around forever. You know, there's not like a thing and that there's not a point where that can, you know, maybe you've found something that you're fine with or whatever, but. As we've proved possible to change. Right. Um, but that experience of like going into freshman year is so fraught, that sort of stuff, you know, and, um, those. It's funny how those, I just keep thinking about your friend telling you that you had to be smart to do this or whatever. And you know, when you're a freshman and everything's overwhelming. And I feel like you're still probably like trying to take stuff off of the buffet. It's just a different buffet. Right. And, uh, how, like one, one sentence, like that can, can change, like what you, you know, your whole life really, you know, like, uh, I don't really have a point other than I was just, I just keep thinking about, you know, I just keep coming back to that. Cause I, I mean, I had experiences like that in college too, you know? Uh, and I changed majors a few times and um, all of that stuff, including being computer science major and I changed to English instead of Japanese. So it was a little easier for me. Although, you know, now that I think of it, I was signed up for a Japanese class, uh, like first semester of freshman. Yeah. Well, I didn't, I didn't know. I dropped that class very quickly because it was, it didn't work. It didn't work out well for me, but, um, I feel like it might've been early in the morning too. I don't know. It wasn't the right fit

Yolanda:

Morning classes are hard regardless of the subject.

Dan:

Um, I'm trying to find like a point of what I was saying. Um, I don't really have a point other than I was affected by that, by, by your story. And it's just like an interesting thing to think about.

Bekah:

It's true. I mean, the things that you say to other people matter, and it might be an off the cuff thing, but you know, we talked about this in Virtual Coffee, like the impact of your words does matter. And I remember I had a student my first or second semester teaching freshman English, and I always tried to write something positive on everybody's paper. And he, I think was. Taking this course for this was not his first time taking the course. Um, and he came up to me after class and he said, thank you so much. For saying whatever. Nice thing I said, he was like, I have never had any teacher say anything nice about my writing. It's always been, you know, red marks or negative comments and that kind of thing just made such a huge impression because you know, one, one small remark and it made a total difference in the way that he communicated and his investment in. And I think that positive or negative that's, that's what it does. And, you know, unfortunately I think women have experienced a lot of negativity and gatekeeping in more scientific or technical fields. Um, at least many stories that I've heard. So, um, it's definitely something that, that I hope gets better. And I appreciate people telling stories about that. So we're aware of that kind of thing. Um, so 100 devs, isn't the only program you did, right? You did. You also do Collab Lab.

Yolanda:

I did. Yes. So I was in Collab Lab summer of last year from July to August, June to August, something like that. So yeah, another community I am happy to be in and help out. So love that. Love that team people, everyone.

Bekah:

Do you want to talk a little bit about what does.

Yolanda:

Yeah. Um, oh, I hope I do justice. Uh, it's an awesome, awesome group or organization, um, where they help, uh, people who are new to the industry and teach them how to collaborate in a team on a project. So you are given a. actually you, you have to apply to, to join Collab Lab, and once they accept your application, then you are put in a team of four new developers and then about two to three mentors. And then it's a eight week, I think. Process or journey where you create a react app. It's like a shopping cart. Everybody does the same thing. It's the same application throughout other teams. And then from start to finish, you build your, your application. So, um, and then it just kind of every week we go through kind of what we've learned. Um, oops, hold on. Sorry. Let me try to think what else. And then every week you are paired up with another dev. So it's like you plus another dev and you work on this small task that's been given to you. And we go through like the get hub repo, you're assigned the task and then there's like acceptance criteria. So they try to mimic a real life's work scenario. So in that week, time span, we have. Try to complete that task, um, and push it. So the mentors could take a look at the, do a code review, and then we also do a code review of our partners or the other teams. Code. And then they teach us like how to do a proper code review. You can't just say everything looks good, thumbs up, you know, try to give a better feedback. Like, oh, what does this do? Or I don't understand this. Can you explain it better type of comments? And then if it looks good, then the mentor will give like a thumbs up kind of thing. And then, um, we push it to, to that main branch and. And then you, the second week you get paired with a different dev. So it gives you that collaboration and getting used to working with, um, with different people. So the team I'm on was on, was a fantastic team. Um, I wasn't strong in react, so they definitely helped me get, uh, gain a better understanding and kind of teach me through it. Um, and I just learned what AC was, which was acceptance criteria, you know? Uh, and then when you do the hub, there's like a template and then try to give it. Nice structure of when, um, when you commit the code. So it's not just code, you're explaining exactly what you're committing, you know, instead of trying to have the other people guess what you're committing. So that was really nice. And then, um, they talked about accessibility and, uh, it, it was it's, it's an awesome program. Um, I hope I did it justice. It was like a really terrible explanation.

Bekah:

no, I think he did a really good job and we'll have a link to it so everybody can check it out afterwards. Um, we've had a lot of Virtual Coffee members go through Collab Lab, and I really appreciate that. Um, The collaboration that's focused on because I, my bootcamp experiences, um, similar issuers in that it was like self paced. Um, I was, I was really by myself. Um, there wasn't a lot of like one-on-one meetings or, um, any collaboration happening, which. And made it doable for me at the time. But, um, like in retrospect, I feel like I needed to make more of an effort to do those types of collaborations, because then it was like kind of a learning curve to figure out how to communicate about things and when to communicate about things. So, um, do you feel. That collaboration. What, what was the learning curve from where you were when you started? Um, to have those good quality collaborative meetings.

Yolanda:

Oh, good question. Um, I, I was going to apply, I think it was. Spring cohort, um, the beginning of the year. And I think that was after a month of just learning JavaScript. I reached out to another Virtual Coffee member, um, and, uh, either she applied or she just went through it and, uh, she told me, Hey, Try the next one, because you should have some sort of a good foundation before. Cause they Collab Lab does not teach you how to code. It just teaches you how to collaborate. So having that coding foundation is, um, is vital. So then I pushed it until summer. So I started a 100Devs, October of 2020. Then I got into Collab Lab. Let's say like July. So. Like eight months, seven, eight months. Sorry I had account, before, you know, I, I mean, even then I didn't feel comfortable. I didn't think I was gonna get accepted to tell you the truth. Um, then an, uh, another a hundred Devore, she said, Hey, you gotta shoot your shots. You don't know until you try. Cause I, I have this like very low confidence, you know, I was like, I'm not good enough or I don't need another year before I, I can even do X, Y, and Z. So she's like, Hey, if it doesn't work. There's there's no negative impact. Like you just try again at the next cohort. I'm like, okay. Yeah, there's nothing wrong. There's no consequences. So I applied in lo and behold, I got accepted. So this thing to that person, um, that helped me out and pushed me for that. So I think I had like eight months experience before I applied to Collab Lab. Um, and then maybe a month of react experience. So very little, very, very baby chick stage of that.

Bekah:

Do you feel like it helped you when you moved on?

Yolanda:

It helped me gain a better understanding of how collaboration works. Um, in a 100Devs, we did work on a team project, so that, that was helpful, but it's a lot of newbies as well, you know, working on a project to think the other. So there was a lot of, um, I think this is what we're supposed to do kind of thing. Or like, how do we share the code? Or, you know, if, if one change, do we just share it through like Google docs? So it's still a lot of. The process kind of, what did we do? I don't get it. Um, so it's a lot of builders with tools and we're just eager to build and we're like, okay, so what do we do now? What's a blueprint. You know, it was like, oh, okay. Maybe we should do that first kind of thing. And that's how it felt. And then with Collab Lab, it's like, okay, you guys, this is the. You know, this, these are your roles. This is our expectations of you, you know, and this is you should finish this task, you know? And then before you go on to the next one, don't worry about this. You know, don't worry about the color of the house yet. That's at the very end, you know, worry about. Building that I don't know, I'm not a construction worker. So, you know, like the foundation, the frame, you know, focus on that first. So for Collab Lab, I was taught, you know, focus on the kind of the functionality. Does it work, you know, versus making it look pretty because I'm a visual person. So I was like, oh, maybe it needs to look this way first. And they're like, yes, it should look this way. Or it's great to look that way, but maybe we should focus on. Does it work? Does this button work? No matter how ugly it is, is it, does it click? And if it clicks, does it go to or do its thing? So, uh, that's what I've learned is, oh, okay. There's this way of building things, which was fantastic and very different from what I've learned in a hundred deaths. So.

Dan:

That's great. It sounds like a, uh, a great learning experience and something that I would just having. I mean, I haven't ever done it obviously, but like I would encourage anybody to do because, um, that's sort of the. You know, learning like actual coding is important obviously, but there's so much that goes into a job, um, or a project or anything like that, that isn't just writing code, you know? And, um, there's, you know, lots of people have lots of, uh, trouble, like getting kind of started up with any project or with, um, you know, in a new company if they don't have this sort of experience and, um, having that confidence to, you know, to know like, okay, I know how to do. Code review. You know what I mean? I know how to do, uh, you know, pull requests, even all that, all of us, all this stuff. I know, you know, I just, that, that it's like something that, know, to go through this level of practice at it, you know, it gives you that like the full confidence. I don't even worry about it anymore. Right. It almost becomes second nature. Right. And so, so like, if you go into a job interview, um, for instance, you don't have to like sweat about that part. You know, anything you don't have to sweat about it. It's good. And I think usually like a job interview is, can probably tell like when you're sweating, when you're not about, about certain things, you know, and, uh, you know, but work with people, it's, it's an important skill and it's hard to. I had to like display on a resume to, you know, so that cloud lab, you know, uh, completing that Collab Lab thing is, is like a nice, like, easy, easy to point to, you know, thing. Oh, that's really cool.

Yolanda:

Yeah.

Bekah:

I was just going to say, I think that you've done a great job, like constructing your learning, how to code journey through all of the opportunities that you've done and you know, all of the skills that you've learned, it feels like you've got a very well-rounded experience coming out of that.

Yolanda:

Yeah, I think so. I hope so. I mean better than when I try to do it on my own, so I cannot complain it's um, you know, I just. I wish I knew it was going to take this long, then I would have really took my time with it and just kind of savor the taste instead of trying to rush and try everything or do everything. But, um, yeah, but then it's just been helpful because awful, you know, the, you know, the situation that we're all put in with COVID and I don't know if I would be where I'm at. If it, if that didn't happen, because, you know, when I try to learn how to code, I was working, you know, 30, 40 hours and try to do coding on the side, but with COVID I was able to focus, you know, and, and try to, you know, find the community that I felt comfortable in. And, um, and then just kind of cut off here. I am. It's just, it's, it's healthy and it's very helpful to have the. Free communities too, you know, Virtual Coffee, a 100Devs Collab Lab, you know, it wasn't out of my pocket. So the money that I was able to save a lot goes through, you know, bills, food, or, you know, emergency whatever. So it's just, um, it's really nice that this, in this day and age, there's still a lot of people who want to help other people without, you know, with the kindness of their heart and their time, you know? Cause it's not, it's not an easy thing to do and yeah.

Dan:

Yeah, no, that's important. It's just like you're helping with, um, a hundred deaths, right? Uh, you're volunteering with them and stuff. It's always cool to be able to, like, once you have some amount of time or space available to yourself, to, you know, to be able to give back in ways since it's neat. That's cool that, uh, oh, go ahead.

Bekah:

I was gonna say too, like you have done note taking for us to at Virtual Coffee and you're, you're usually there, you are on the west coast, but you are there 6:00 AM your time frequently. Um, and I, I just, I love to see it. I it's it's so, you know, um, I know like what a Testament it is to your character, that you are so willing to give back and to support the communities that you've been apart.

Yolanda:

It's because, you know, I, uh, I feel comfortable being in the computer community, you know, Virtual Coffee from the get-go. Um, I think I messaged you because like, it was like love at first sight. That first meeting, I, it was very, it was very nice and I mean, I probably really do. Get involved with first of all, coffee, until months later, I know like Noranda would like edge me. Like he was like, say, Hey, think Yolanda? Or like, I want you to, you know, have a conversation too. Cause I was mainly a fly on the wall and every meetup, you know, it's just like, I just want to listen because I feel at that time I can't contract. Yeah. As silly as it was, I felt like, oh yeah, there's this new, I'm the new person. I, I can't contribute to this discussion. There's I can't say anything. There's no vital information. So I'm just going to keep my mouth shut and just, and just listen. And that was for a few months. Um, but with the consistency, I think other members that me and they're like, Hey, so what do you think you'll want to, or, Hey, Yolanda, you know, good to see you on here. And because of that, and then reaching out to me, kind of putting me on the spot, kind of broke the ice. At least for me, it helped me get more comfortable and then finally took the plunge of like, okay, I think I could help out with the note-taking. I think it was like Meg needed a help or something in one of the rooms. And like, I think I can do this.

Bekah:

Yeah. So I want to, um, back up a little bit kind of, I don't know if it's backing up, but you mentioned that your mom too. Um, and we talked about this journey and, um, we all your know that it's challenging to be a parent and to be working, especially during COVID times and, and learning. So I feel like anytime we can hear the story of. You know, how you survived, um, being a parent and learning, um, or working through things. I think that that story looks a lot different than, than other people's stories who, you know, might not have all of the same responsibilities. So what do you think, w what, how was that for you as a mom?

Yolanda:

Ooh. It was tough. It is tough. It's still tough. It's not easy. I mean, I'm very fortunate that I do have my husband, you know, and he does help out, but it's, it's just, it was, it is, it's difficult. It's a lot of trying to figure out when can I study? You know, I have, at that time two year old saying like, Hey, play with me. You know, like let's play together because he sees me here, you know, on the computer at home. So it's, you know, play time, no matter how hard I try, he's like, okay, give, give me five minutes. You know, but they don't, they don't understand time. You say five, they think it's like now. So, um, and then, you know, it's just trying to adjust the schedule. I remember trying to wake up, you know, five in the morning to try to learn how to code. And then of course my little one, um, three at that time he would wake up and he wouldn't see me or he'll look for me. So. I couldn't really code. Cause then he wants to, you know, I can't keep them up at 5:00 AM. He still needs to sleep, so, and I'll go back in bed and try to put him back to sleep. And then when I try to, I think I thought I ninja my way out, but oh no, he wakes up like five minutes later. It's like, okay, that didn't work. And then I'll try to stay up late to learn how to code. that doesn't work because he wants mommy to be in bed with them to go to sleep. I'll try to ask my husband and he'll try to help out, but it's always like, no, but I want mommy and I'm like, mommy's busy. So I will try that. And then I'll do like 11, 12 o'clock. Um, at night one o'clock trying to code, but then I'm already tired. So was it effective? I don't know. It felt like it reminded me of college where you look at the textbook and you're reading that same paragraph and you're like, oh crap. I think I just read that paragraph. Okay. I'm going to focus. Let me read it again, but nothing stick. And you're like, oh, what did I just read? So it felt like that for, for many months, just trying to find ways to. everything. And then I had to talk with my husband and saying, Hey, is it okay if I cut back on work and focus on school or, you know, Leon's class, because the end goal is to make that career change. And, you know, luckily his job wasn't affected by the COVID. So he still, he was still working. So he said, yeah, yeah, we can do that. So, um, and then, you know, and also fortunately we are able to put my kid in daycares. You know, just part-time. So we did that and that all those pieces kind of fell together and it helped me out personally. So I was very fortunate and, you know, supportive husband didn't lose his job, had daycare. So this kind of stars semi aligned. And I was able to kind of learn through that, but it wasn't easy. A lot of nights that I cried a lot of nights. I mean argued a lot of nights that I not even nights, just days, I just want to scream into the void, like why? And, uh, you know, thought process of like, if I didn't have a kid, I probably would've gotten this earlier, better, faster, you know? And. of look at him and he smiles and gives me a hug. I'm like, damn it. Why did I think of that? You know, terrible thoughts. And it's like, okay, it's worth it. He's he doesn't know any better. So it's a lot of back and forth. Like I wish, I wish I didn't change my mind back in college, but then I wouldn't have taught abroad. Then I wouldn't have had built those friendships and relationships. And it's just, I don't know. But being a mom is hard. That's just, that was my rant. Sorry.

Dan:

Yeah, it's. It's hard to, I mean, definitely hard to learn. You know, it's hard to really do any development work when, you know, when you're tired or for me, I guess, personally, but like, I feel like this is pretty common, but you know, when your brain, when you're tired, your brain doesn't work quite at its like its normal level and um, parenting is being tired a lot and you know, it's just like, it's hard. It's, it's hard. So I, I appreciate you sharing with us cause it's. I've had a lot of similar experiences. It's a lot of late nights and a lot of yelling and stuff, not going through your brain that you think should be going through. Like, you know, I should be able to figure this out kind of thing. Right. And I'm like, oh wait, I was up for, I was only asleep for like two hours last night and they maybe that's why, you know, uh, so

Bekah:

And I think, you know, it's hard, I've talked to a lot of moms who have felt those frustrations and you, you see stories on Twitter or wherever where people are flying through things, and then you play the comparison game. Like, well, how come they're there? And I'm not there. And you know, I can't tell you how many times I've talked to another mom who was struggling in that journey. Like. One staying up late and I'm waking up early and I'm putting in all this time and it's still not sticking. I'm like how many hours of sleep are you getting a night for? Well, it's, it's not going to stick. And you know, you said something earlier about like, I, I wish I would have like savored the journey more or something like that. And I think that there is this tendency to want to rush through it, or, you know, these boot campers get it done in 12 weeks or whatever. I should be able to get it done in 12 weeks. No, that's not ideal. And it, it doesn't acknowledge the challenges that, that we face in our lives, um, to be able to do that. Like Dan you're saying like, your brain just cannot, uh, be a spot. When you're not getting enough sleep at night, it's, it's not, it's a physiological thing. You can't break that you can't change that part of of it. And So you know, putting a focus on like take the time to like pace yourself and learn what you're doing, um, and savor those moments of the journey. Yeah. I say this, like in retrospect, but I know had somebody said the same thing to me while I was going through it, I'd be like, yeah, sure. Whatever. Like, I just need to be done with this and get on with the real life where things are easier is not easier. Like I thought bootcamp was hard. Wait a minute. Like this is, this is harder suddenly and I'm terrified. So, um, there are just so many other factors. All right. Somebody had once said, you know, bootcamps should have, I dunno, like a warning or something to say that this is going to put intense pressure on your relationship. And a lot of people break up during this time because there is so much stress and pressure And nobody talks about that cause like, oh, did you feel. Did your project get done? Did you get hired? Not like how were you impacted in your life outside of work in learning? And so I think it's, you know, I very much appreciate you sharing all of that because I think that I wish that more people talked about it. So people who are coming into tech, like no, there's a lot of pressure in these things.

Yolanda:

So much pressure pressure on ourselves. I think, you know, and I keep comparing myself to others, that comparison game that you said, you know, it's a terrible game to play. Terrible, terrible,

Bekah:

I was compared to my self to Kent C Dodds. I'm like, I don't know, why that's not really realistic, but I'm like, why am I not like that?

Yolanda:

Yeah, it's just cause you see it, you know, like all, you know, they, they did it, they get it. Why can't I, you know, or I'll. Forget that I'm I'm uh, I know mom, you know, and I have these obligations because I was thinking in college, I didn't struggle this much. Did I? Like I got it. Like what? What's different from college. And now I'm in college was like 15 years ago. I had to calculate it. It's just like, you know, and back then it was just me just like there's no other there's no. Little ones or, you know, people that I have to kind of focus on to take care of. So yeah, so I, somebody told me like, compare yourself and it was like, oh, that's not fun. Like compare, you know, like it's just, I should, and I get where they're saying. I'm looking back a year ago. Where was I? You know, what is today, March? And I think I was still learning JavaScript and probably feeling frustrated the year ago saying I don't get it. What, what do you mean I have to do this? Like, it doesn't make sense. And right now it still doesn't make sense, but it's a little, a little, I get a better idea. Um, Yeah, somebody, I, I try to do that and he's like, okay, where was I before? You know, where was I yesterday? Did I have a least 1% of improvement today? Kind of thing. So I think that was like through also atomic habits, you know, just microscopic improvement and focus on that. So I think that helps me out as well. Just the tiniest of the tiny victory. So if I could just put in, you know, five minutes of whatever learning, yay. That's my victory. One step tiny step forward, instead of saying, oh, I only spent five minutes. You know, it's like try to change that mindset, which is so hard, but the pressure is hard. The comparison game is hard. Everything is hard.

Bekah:

I feel like I was like, oh, there should be Calendly links to like, meet with your mentor slash meet with your therapist. It should be right next to each other. Cause I think it would be useful. Um, well, I want to thank you Yolanda for being here and sharing your journey with us. Cause I think this is super valuable and a lot of people are going to learn from this episode. Um, are there any, uh, do you want to share any of your biggest lessons or tips for those out there? Listening before we head off for the day?

Yolanda:

Take your time. It takes time. Sorry. I should say it takes time. Everything takes time. Um, try to have that ingrained in your head. It's just, everything takes time. Networking takes time. Learning how to code takes time. Finding a job takes time. Then you know, the, the main foundation is, it just, it takes time. So I wish I had that ingrained in me instead of hurry. Hurry, hurry. Fear of missing out. It's just stop, breathe and like, okay, it's gonna, it's gonna take time. And that is okay. That is definitely okay. I'm not going to miss out on jobs. I'm not gonna miss out on opportunities. Um, because I'm just going to focus on what I can do at this moment in time. And if that's all I can do, that's all I can do. So just, just take it easy.

Dan:

love that. I love that advice a lot. I think that, I think that's a great note to end on. Um, and I wanted to say thank you Yolanda too. I, I really appreciate it here. Well, everything really? Um, it was good. I think what Bekah said is right, a lot of people are going to find this really valuable. So thank you again for coming on.

Bekah:

bye.

Dan:

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Virtual Coffee Podcast. This episode was produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel. If you have questions or comments you can hit us up on Twitter at VirtualCoffeeIO, or email us at podcast@virtualcoffee.io. You can find the show notes, sign up for the newsletter, check out any of our other resources on our website VirtualCoffee.io. If you're interested in sponsoring virtual coffee you can find out more information on our website at VirtualCoffee.io/sponsorship. Please subscribe to our podcast and be sure to leave us a review. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next week!


The Virtual Coffee Podcast is produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel and edited by Andy Bonjour at GoodDay Communications.