Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your backstory?
My name is Jessica Wallace, I’m 25 years old originally hailing from Weymouth, - Dorset but finally settling down in Finchley, North London. Living with my partner Alex and our dog Samsun, I form a two person team that is career driven, with both of us continuously aiming for the top.
At University I studied Information Systems, which was definitely something new for me and after three years, I graduated with first class honours and a very loud family as I walked across the stage to collect my degree.
I currently work as an information analyst for a healthcare company that focuses around the mental health sector, and when I am not working I can usually be found at my home office challenging my creative ideas. Although my main focus is CS, I am also currently developing a platform called BuiltByHer, which once completed is something I hope will be a useful resource for women in tech.
What made you get into programming?
It started when I worked in recruitment, an avenue I hadn’t expected to walk down as I had suddenly decided to take a break from education to see if I was ready to take on the workings of a fully fledged career woman. I worked specifically within technical recruitment and part of this required me to look at the inner workings of candidates within these roles. As time passed, I found my interest in their roles and skill sets going beyond the job, inspiring me to look at the creative reasoning behind these particular interests.
This came as quite a shock to the system as I had never considered that I would evolve my career in the technical landscape as once upon a time I had always wanted to work within the medical field and had already started considering the option of becoming a paramedic. So to challenge my original plan was a learning curve in itself.
What made you create CoderStory?
I always struggled with programming as the concepts never came naturally to me, and to this day it’s something I still struggle with as coming up with the idea was always the easy part, but mapping out the journey from beginning to end always led me to dead ends as I wasn’t always sure how to break down the task by importance and as someone new to the community, I didn’t want to continuously ask for help from those with experience.
I found the landscape for immediate mentoring to be quite scarce and although there were other platforms for entrepreneurs and marketers I wanted to create something that was more specific to those who found themselves in a similar situation to myself when starting out. With this and the push that was created for me by Pat Walls and the #24hourstartup challenge, it was a case of now or never and I’m very glad that my creative and technical instincts said: NOW.
What does your process for learning to code look like?
I’m a visual learner and have never done very well with books, which is ironic since I have created a platform that focuses on written content. I’ve never been one to plan out my self education, but rather challenge myself by diving in and exploring concepts by ‘learning on the job’.
A lot of what I read stems from the online world, because as previously mentioned I’m not the kind of student who will sit there with a book, a pack of post-its and a highlighter to learn what I need to know. I enjoy watching tutorials, reading blog posts, immersing myself in maker communities which allows for live educating as I can watch live streams that can show me the pros and cons of different areas as and when they happen.
One thing that I am continuously trying to improve on is how I retain my knowledge and store things as sometimes I have been referred to as a ‘hot learning mess’. If my coding knowledge was a desk, it would be the biggest pile of mess you’d ever see. Funny considering in the rest of my life I love everything to be organised and structured. With this yearning to improve I have recently created a GitHub repo for all of my study notes that I look to build on more. Not only for my personal gain but in the same vein as CoderStory, if someone needs them in the future - they will be organised and ready for them.
What does your process for building apps look like?
In comparison to my learning, my process for building applications is quite structured. I like to map out the features that I would like to include and make decisions based on order of priority. This is still a very new area for me as I have only recently tried to build and polish apps that I have started and so there is still quite a way to go for me to fully realise and bring to fruition what my process looks like. There will be an update to this as my journey progresses.
Do you face any particular challenges when building over a period of time?
One of my biggest things is keeping my focus and motivation as I can often get quite frustrated when I can’t figure out how to fix a problem. When the frustration kicks in it can be very difficult to be motivated to work on the project when I can’t find an immediate solution which sometimes leads to me working on other things and coming back to it which can challenge my workflow. This has resulted in a couple of projects only being built to the 60% mark, now waiting in the pipeline wings to be completed.
Are you currently learning anything new?
From a technical standpoint I am trying to improve my skill set by learning new concepts not just in coding, but from a creative perspective as well. One of my main focuses at the moment is looking at REST API’s and how to implement them into my projects. I recently purchased a couple of courses from Wes Bos on technologies such as React, Node, Express and MongoDB.
What's your tech stack?
- PHP (Laravel)
- Text Editor: Visual Studio Code
- Database Manager: TablePlus
- Code Collaboration: Github and Bitbucket
- Git Client: Git Kraken
What have been influential books, resources and links that have helped you?
- Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine
- 5 Second Rule (Non Tech Related)
- Think Like an Engineer
- The 10x Rule (Non Tech Related)
- Wes Bos
- Indie Hackers
- Product Hunt Radio
Advice for those learning to code?
Based on personal experience; first and foremost - patience is a virtue and in this kind of work, needed to ensure that you don’t let your frustrations affect the quality and final outcome of the products that you are trying to build. It’s easily done to get caught up in the education of the process but ensure that your learning comes from your desire to fix problems yourself.
Never be afraid to take risks even if they seem bigger than your capability skill set, because you may surprise yourself in what you learn as the journey to the final product progresses. Don’t be scared to push boundaries but also ask questions if you aren’t sure how to get there immediately. The best results don’t happen overnight so utilise every useful resource, ask the right people questions, google the answers and immerse yourself in communities that focus around your area of expertise; there is always a willing hand who will point you in the right direction if you need it. If not, you can always come here and see if one of our creators has mentioned something in their interviews as answers can sometimes appear from the places you’d least expect.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
If you are currently reading this interview, then you have already stepped onto sacred ground. CoderStory is one chapter of my journey and my first completed platform to be released into the digital wild. If you want to keep up with what I’m doing, Twitter and Instagram are my main social platforms providing immediate insight into my progress. Through these I’m always on hand for any advice or discussion you might require.
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