Week 1: I Feel Like I’ve Been Here Before

First week of work is over and it felt a lot like a less intense week of Hack Reactor. I still can’t believe this is what I’m actually doing with my life. I still definitely have lots and lots of impostor syndrome but I also deployed live things my first week! And learned a few of my coworkers names! And did a two minute all staff demonstration on how to knit!

I also got exactly what I wanted. I’m working full stack in JavaScript and Python in non startup-y startup (e.g., we’re not out to make lots and lots of money or making a product we don’t believe in for the money) doing things that I feel are making a tangibly good contribution. We have a gong that gets rung when a person graduates a class. That small bit right there proved that I was exactly where I wanted to be.

And yes, I’m still terrified some days that I’m too slow or too newb or just not cut out for this, but here’s a secret, I don’t think that will ever go away. Maybe it’s a good thing or maybe it’s just human nature, but I just need to learn to live in my own skin I think and take the impostor syndrome as a mark of being human, of caring about my work and wanting to always get better.

And a minor update: Selma is no longer in the house, I got the balls to move her outside finally.

Not Working is Worse

So first off, mad props to those of my cohort who have jobs now too! And major hearts to those still looking, because y’all are amazing. And a special shout out to my platonic soul mate Ava who starts at SurveyMonkey in a week!

I have had two weeks of quiet reflection (read scrambling to get an apartment, utilities and furniture in my pad) and it sucked. While I definitely don’t want to go back to the terrifying job finding phase anytime soon, at least I felt like I was doing things (and I got to code once in a while). Now I’m just sitting around waiting for utility services to call me back or deliver my stuff or de-spidering my apartment (mostly dead, the one that’s alive I’m naming Selma, because I’m a giant crippling softie who can’t even kill bugs).

I start work on Monday and I’m nervous-excited-terrified-ecstatic. I’m already on the email lists and I love the few random all-staff conversations I’ve read. I think the culture here will be awesome. My zen today though has been putting together IKEA:

Made Bed

RED Couch

Blurry Table

And a super special thank you to Ava for being awesome and watching TV with me and putting together my table:

Ava Puts Together A Table

Confirm my eccentricities

I have discovered a new sense of zen since I got my job offer. I’ve also discovered amusing things about myself. The biggest and most noticeable change is in my music choices. When I was stressed and scared and about to go to an interview I would want nothing more than to listen to a couple of songs over and over again. Bravado was one, Problem, Wrecking Ball, and Dark Horse were my staples. I needed strong songs sung by women that I knew by heart. I listen to basically nothing else. Now I’m still listening to them, but I’ve added back in old favorites and non-female vocals like We Fought Monsters, I Hear the Bells, and Madness. It feels awesome emotionally and physically. Music is a huge factor in my moods and it’s awesome to be able to experience the full range of it again.

I Got a Job!

So, that was quick. Here I was whining and freaking out about the job search and instead I find myself settled in a week and a half.

I’m a Full Stack Software Engineer at Udacity! I am so excited. Everyone there seems so awesome and I really believe in online/alternate education and have always wanted to get into that niche.

So no sob stories to read about here for another few months. Instead you’ll get to read about my shenanigans trying to find an apartment, bringing my kitties down from Oregon, and buying everything in IKEA.

Applying for a job at IKEA

…And So It Begins

I definitely plan to keep up with my Sunday/Monday posting schedule but I’m not sure what to call these anymore. When I was in Hack Reactor it was easy to call them “Week #: (insert witty title)” and now I think I just have to continue with my old standby of vaguely overwrought witty/melodramatic titles or it will take all the fun out of my posts.

Any illusions I had of getting some sleep after Hack Reactor was over was complete wishful thinking. I have been moving and doing and emailing and talking and coding and my life is just as crazy as ever… and I love it. That terrified feeling from the last week of Hack Reactor is gone. I mean, obviously there are nerves and ups and downs to this whole process, but there are also the awesome moments. The fun of coding challenges and flexing my brain at a whiteboard. The awesome talks with some really cool engineers and just the constant feeling that I’m still learning and growing as an engineer even when I’m not technically “learning”.

LAUNCH Hack Sign

And just to prove there ain’t no rest for the wicked, over the weekend I attended the Launch hackathon. We weren’t doing it to win any prizes but I attended with a couple of the Hack Reactor ladies and we had a lot of fun putting Marmot Creek together. Also, for my zen like moment of the week, a picture from the wharf this morning:

Staring at the Bay

Home

I made it. I landed in SFO yesterday and here I am sitting in Ava’s apartment in Burlingame and realizing I packed way too many sweaters. Seriously, it started raining in Portland as we were flying to the airport and then I get here and it’s gorgeous – slightly breezy but super sunny.

In many ways it feels like I was on vacation and now I’m back, fitting right back in to the swing of friends and California. The other half of me wavers between feeling like now is the vacation and realizing that I’m going to be here for a while. At the airport I was so excited but then as I hugged my parents goodbye and entered the queue for TSA I started bawling. This is new and scary and as much as I want this, my safety net is mostly gone. I can’t just drive an hour and end up at my parents’ house.

I just need to breathe and give myself some time and start doing fun things. And then just tell myself the worst that could happen is I decided after the three months is over that I want to go home and find a job in Portland (I really doubt I will feel that way by that point, but it’s comforting).

This was supposed to be a happier post, but really I just needed to say everything that I’m thinking. I also want to be able to link to this post a year from now and see how much has changed because this last year has been tremendous. Also palm trees still make me smile.

My Life is Like My Nose Piercing

=Nose Pierced!

It didn’t hit me until my piercer started talking about the aftercare, but this piercing is probably the best thing I could have done to commemorate my new life as a Software Engineer.

It’s hard to see even in the picture above, but I got my nose pierced today (I also put on makeup and tweezed my eyebrows for the photo so I’m feeling pretty damn girly). There are all sorts of reasons I could have said that I got this piercing: I wanted to celebrate leaving behind Oregon for California, I wanted to celebrate my acceptance into Hack Reactor, I wanted the world to know that I’m finally starting to feel OK in my own skin. None of those was the real reason I walked into that shop. In reality I walked in there because I wanted something different. I wanted to be one of the cool kids and get my nose pierced. Even at 27 I still want “in”.

What I got out of getting my nose pierced was much more than even the symbolism I wanted to attach to it in the first place. After the initial high of wanting my nose pierced, I walked into the store still a little bouncy and chose my jewelry. Then I sat in the chair, saw the needle and the giant tube they were going to stick in my nose, and started to freak out a little. Even knowing that the pain would last for a second as the piercing dude assured me (while making small talk about how awesome San Francisco is in the process) I was tense. Then I got stabbed with a needle, a piece of metal was twisted in to my nose and I looked at myself in the mirror.

It was a pretty awesome feeling and it wasn’t even about the jewelry. It was when I saw myself in the mirror that all that symbolism that I’d tried to force on this tiny piece of jewelry suddenly settled around me. It was the nose stud, yes, but it was so much more. It was the Lexapro that I started taking about a year ago after a panic attack left me feeling like I was going to die that very minute alone in my apartment while I sobbed on the phone to my mom that I couldn’t breath and my mom was an hour away and probably feeling pretty helpless herself. It was the car keys to my very first car that I bought last year and the moment this year when I first drove on the freeway alone. And it was the feeling I felt when I visited Ava after she moved to Burlingame. It felt like peace and home and like I could become whoever I wanted to be there. It was then that I started to fight for that dream.

In the end, I will say that I got this nose piercing for Hack Reactor. This nose will take about 4 months before I can safely put new jewelry in it. This program will be over around the same time. Then I can put on a new career and wear “Software Engineer” like a badge of honor (along with some cute/geeky new nose bling).