Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash
And so it begins...
4 min read
I'm two weeks into my new adventure as an Outreachy intern, working with UNICEF Innovation! So thought now would be the best time to introduce myself
This blog will be a space for me to document my Outreachy interning experience, as well as share my thoughts (and probably feelings), about my journey to being a developer.
A little bit about me
I was born and grew up in South Africa, though have also lived in France and London. I'm now based in Cape Town, where I live with my cat Luna 🐱
My journey to software development and tech was a roundabout one. A stranger looking at my resume might be slightly surprised at the variety and seemingly disconnectedness of each path I've chosen to take in my short 28 years on this planet. A quick snapshot: I was always a creative kid, lost in my imagination. I played computer games, built things (including a robot 🤖 ), made art, and loved problem solving in maths. However, along the way, I was discouraged from following my natural interest in technology (a common problem for young girls). I left highschool and started a degree in architecture, burnt out after 2 years of too many all-nighters and neglecting my mental health, as well as gut-feeling that I wasn't in the right place. Then I pivoted into a humanities degree, majoring in sociology and psychology. During this time I also built a WP blog from scratch, my first intro to coding beyond some basic html in highschool (and of course Tumblr CSS, duh). After graduating with my bachelors I chose to pursue my Honours in Psych with the hope of doing my masters in either clinical or developmental psychology. But of course, I'm not one to do things simply, so in 2017, I studied part-time while I moved to London and took on a job as a teaching assistant at a primary school. After 4 months I moved onto a job as a travel specialist at a luxury travel agency, which, while fun for a while, was not what I wanted to do. In 2019, while applying for my psychology masters degree, I decided to use my free time to learn some coding. Spoiler: I loved it. 💕
I started Skillcrush's Break into Tech certificate. I then managed to get an apprenticeship with a South African dev agency and completed the Udacity full-stack nanodegree. I was taken on as an intern and then promoted to a junior developer. However, I had a nagging feeling of imposter syndrome, as well as the knowledge that I did not have a strong base in programming, nor that I was doing something which was deeply fulfilling for me. So I left that job to go back and study the fundamentals of software development with Launch School. And here I am today!
My core values
My top core values are connection, compassion and growth (and creativity). Connection has always been important to me, I love connecting with people in my community and beyond. The everyday passing connections bring me such comfort; when the barista recognises me and knows my order, when my neighbour waves with a smile, when I can come together with old friends and share a fond memory. I value compassion. Being able to understand, support and reach out to other people has always come naturally to me. It allows me to step into others' shoes and see the world from their eyes, and hopefully find the right way to offer them help. Growth, in all aspects of life is important to me; growing my skills and knowledge through learning and practice, growing personally through self-development and reflection, and growing socially by learning more about people and uplifting them.
The beginning of my Outreachy journey
I stumbled across Outreachy a while ago, bookmarked the site and then pushed it to the back of my mind. Luckily it resurfaced just in time to submit my application. Not having a CS degree means that finding internships that will accept me is hard, so I knew that I had to take this chance. I'm so glad I did because I found my dream project, working with UNICEF (I have a clear memory as a young teenager seeing the sign of a UNICEF office when travelling and making a pact with myself that I would work there one day). I'm working on the Kindly project, an API using machine learning to detect toxic and harmful messages, with the aim to reduce cyberbullying and make children feel safer and empowering them to communicate with empathy.
I'm so grateful to have found a project and a team where I can put my multifaceted background to good use! Having a good understanding of and also real-life experience working with children has already proved very useful. As have my creative problem-solving skills.
🌞Your life experiences are important, and even if they don't seem relevant, they have you brought you to this point and make you who you are🌞