Welcome to the first entry in my Flatiron School blog! I’ll follow their recommendation in writing about why I decided to take a software development course at this point in my life.
The short version: coding is one of the only things I can just sit and do for hours, without realizing how fast time is passing by. And I am a big believer in the mantra of “do what you love.”
The long version
In hindsight, it was not a good idea to combine roller hockey and baseball into a single sport. But it was the summer of 1999 and my brother and I were 9 and 10 years old, respectively. And we had just transitioned from spending our days at a baseball camp to a roller hockey one, so the combination seemed natural!
I sprint-skated down the base line, rounded first, but realized I should not advance. So I tried to quickly stop, fell hard backwards, and broke my wrist. I wound up leaving the hospital in a cast and doctor’s orders not to continue playing hockey. But that might have been a lucky break!
In our search for a camp I could attend without needing to use my arm that much, we settled upon ACE Computer Camp. I was already pretty into computers—I had convinced my parents to get that newfangled “Internet” thing—but knew nothing about programming. But I instantly fell in love my first day at camp, when I first started learning BASIC.
I ended up attending ACE for 10 weeks over the next three years, until it unfortunately ceased operations in 2001. Over those three years, I learned BASIC, Java, and C++. My final project was a C++ implementation of BattleShip in which you could play against a computer player that was actually good! I even teamed up with a few of my friends to start a “company” called LavaWare, which released games and utilities for free online. In writing this blog, I was sad to find out that even the Wayback Machine couldn’t render any of our pages from ~20 years ago. However, I was able to find some glorious images!
Anyway, as I went on to high school, coding kind of faded away—what was offered at my school was less advanced than I already was—and I focused on science and math. I was on the track and swimming teams, and did theater. By the time I got to college, it had been more than five years since I had done any coding…
I majored in Biology, but I kind of wish I had done Computer Science—I think I would have enjoyed it much more. I did end up taking classes in Java, C, C++, which were great, but for some reason it never occurred to me to switch majors.
I left Stanford in 2011 for a job with President Obama’s reelection campaign (politics are another passion of mine), doing major-donor fundraising in San Francisco. After we won in November of ’12, my team founded Tech4America (T4A.org), a nonprofit that convened public sector leaders with tech-sector leaders with the goal of creating public-private partnerships. In 2015, I moved to New York, where I continued working in politics through 2016. With a heavy heart following my campaign’s loss in November, I went through a long period of soul-searching and thinking about my future.
When I thought about what I really loved to do, I couldn’t stop coming back around to coding. So here I am!