It’s Working! ChiPy Mentorship Next Steps

This triumphant scene is from everyone’s favorite installment of Star Wars: when young Anakin Skywalker, played by Jake Lloyd, fires up his pod-racer for the first time– and it works! The sentiment is akin to running a program, again, and for the first time, returning the desired results instead of error messages.

Well folks, 13 weeks later, I’ve gone from a tinkering script kiddie to a Padawan of the Jedi Arts software development. Some really serious interpersonal changes have happened in a relatively short amount of time:

  1. I came to the ChiPy Spring Mentorship Program with low confidence. I’ve always wanted to be a programmer but high expectations and hyper-critical energy from my folks growing up instilled the idea that I couldn’t ever do it.
  2. Surprised that I even got accepted, I began to struggle with imposter syndrome. While not the first time in my life I’ve experienced such a phenomenon, this is the first time that people I respect and look up to have acknowledged the real battle within. My formal mentor Chris as well as Ray the program coordinator, other mentees, and ChiPy members have made me feel welcome, valued, and capable of participating in this environment.
  3. After all these years letting the creative, innovative part of my brain stagnate, for the first time I feel energized, empowered, and excited to be working on things that fuel and thrive off this type of energy.

That said, I’ve also gotten some serious work done through the mentorship program; three projects to be precise. Chances are, without the structure, rigor, and support of the program, I’d still be struggling to get my first project off the ground. So what DID we do anyway?

  1. Used Python’s CSV library to create a script that automates a previously manual, inventory review process at my day job. The labor intensive process took several hours each week to resolve and the simple script has shaved at least 5 hours per week off my workload. Getting this out of the way first not only was a powerful learning experience but gave me the opportunity to free up more time to study and code.
  2. Using the Requests framework and some API endpoints, build a command line tool which keeps track of the running total cost of meetings attended by federal employees.
  3. Hot on the heels of the meeting tracker command line script, my mentor introduced me to Falcon, a microframework for developing APIs. Using gunicorn and Falcon, I turned the command line script into a microservice which accepts JSON input. I am currently working on a React.js front-end which can connect to the microservice. Any front-end tips/ tricks/ pointers would be most welcome! You can access the microservice on Heroku. It accepts JSON input like in this sample.

This Friday I am leaving for vacation in Alaska with my sister. Even though I will miss the final ChiPy meeting of the mentorship, I am so excited to share with you all a video of my progress and celebrate our monumental successes alongside my peers.

There is a lot of momentum right now and while I am still learning not to compare my progress to other people’s, the ChiPy Mentorship has helped me grow as a person as well as a programmer. I am excited to continue learning about this field, sharing my progress, and seeking the advice and camaraderie of fellow developers.

As an avid scuba diver and student of Buddhism, the journey has reminded me of this powerful Confucian mantra.

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