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Insights / March 24, 2015

Becoming a Software Development Apprentice

By Abbie Tuckner

A little over a year ago, I heard about Software for Good at She’s Geeky, an unConference for women in technology. I can only say the experience was life-changing.

Several women spoke about going through bootcamp, finding employment, and working as developers. I was inspired and encouraged to try it out myself. At the time I was a senior in high school, and spring was approaching very quickly. I was unsure of what to do after graduation, but I knew I wanted to be out in the world actively working toward positive change in some way, shape, or form.

So, it was decided. In March I applied for DevBootcamp in Chicago. I was accepted shortly after for the cohort beginning in September. I added coding tutorials and tech books to my daily routine that spring, completed the course pre-work over the summer, and graduated from the program at the end of the fall. I began my internship with Software for Good in early December, I affectionately refer to it as an apprenticeship. Software is a craft that requires mentorship, practice, patience, and experimentation. And software development demands perpetual learning.

Ideally, I learn by doing, to receive and integrate feedback quickly. I love working at Software for Good because it is an environment that allows me to do that every single day. In this whirlwind adventure I have learned many lessons, and many were learned the hard way. A few thoughts:

I encourage everyone to pursue the work they find the most fulfilling. Never be afraid to be who you are, even when it means swimming against the current. The world needs happy people doing the work they are passionate about.

It’s been demonstrated time and again that the technology industry does not always develop products to satisfy diverse needs. Apple is just getting around to diversifying their emojis with an update that gives the user a panel  of skin tones to choose from.

A passion of mine involves diversifying the process of developing technology. I believe that in an ever-changing world of unique people and complex issues, we need diverse teams of people working together to develop technology that will astound, astonish, and satisfy the needs of each and every person.

Closing Advice:

Be curious

Don’t be afraid of asking questions that seriously expose your ignorance.

The most valuable knowledge is obtained from answers to questions that others are afraid of asking.

Have fun! Work consistently, be patient, and take it easy on yourself.

Allow yourself to experiment and understand that to learn is to make mistakes.

Find mentors, read hella books, watch presentations, and connect with your community.

And finally,

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” -Pablo Picasso