Angela Banks achieved her Masters in Information Technology, May 2012 from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VT). Angela began her course work as a student of Computer Science, but decided that she preferred to have a higher level understanding technology versus hands on. As a result, she changed her degree to Information Technology.
Her degree, hard work, and commitment to success have helped Angela overcome barriers. She obtained a Human Machine Interface (HMI) Engineer position at General Electric in Salem, Virginia, a predominately male occupied position. On top of serving as an Engineer, Angela for the past two years has been working on defining a new path for herself as Beach Body fitness Coach. She has found that aside from developing and testing she enjoys helping people achieve fitness goals.
The programming skills, which Angela obtained at VT, have been key to her career. As a Validation Engineer (a position held by Angela early on in her career) she used programming to modify and/or create automation scripts that were used for testing. For her current HMI position Angela leverages her programming skills to configure switches.
For her Fitness business as a Beach body Coach, she created a site using Word Press. There she called on her programming skills to create a site, which had the look and feel that she desired for her customers. “By knowing what to look for in the common gateway interface (cgi) code I was able to modify the template for my website”.
The Programming Journey
During our interview Angela and I talked about her journey from learning programming in school, leveraging her learned skills at work, and leveraging the skills for her business. Per Angela, programming is all about continuous learning. Programming languages are similar in many ways, but not identical, leaving room for learning.
At work, programming skills allowed Angela to achieve career advancement, strengthened her ability to communicate with business and technical personnel. Her programming skills and her ability to push through obstacles have made her a valuable asset to General Electric.
Angela became a Beach Body Coach about two years ago. Upon embarking the journey, she decided to create a blog which enabled her to communicate upcoming events to her clients and to increase client involvement. Angela started the journey to create a WordPress site for her Beach Body business with foundational programming skills. She soon found herself depending on research and trial and error to standup an interactive site. And troubleshooting solutions that would enable her to produce to her goal. The concepts which were the most difficult for Angela include:
- How to make her site interactive
- Personalizing Widgets
- Personalizing frames
The WordPress journey was professional and personal to Angela. The further she advanced in the journey the more she learned about herself. The journey led to learning new programming concepts and to the realization that she enjoys troubleshooting and seeing her development work come to life. The most important concepts which she learned was knowing when to walk away from the computer and the criticality of making decisions at the right time. The effort to launch the Beach Body had just kicked off when Angela found herself updating code and making progress and then she found herself hitting a huge wall. At that moment Angela found herself devoting a lot of time to fixing her site and not building it up. That is when she made one of the most difficult decisions anyone can make regardless of the field: Starting Over. No one ever wants to start over, just think of all the time that she had already invested. Anyone that has ever developed knows, it is a huge commitment. Regardless of the time already invested, Angela decided that starting over was best, so she made the call. Beach Body WordPress take one was aborted. Angela very quickly launched take two of the effort. She is very glad that she did not give up.
Angela’s site is up and running and has become a gateway for adding new clients to her Beach Body portfolio. It has helped her keep existing clients informed, and enables her to maintain a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.
Angela’s Lessons Learned
Know when to walk away from your computer. According to Angela, hitting walls and/or barriers is part of the development life cycle and knowing when to step away from your computer to re-strategize is just as important of a skill as programming.
- Research and learning are never-ending. Angela obtained her Masters in Information Technology, but she still spent time researching and learning new tactics for developing as she created her WordPress site.
- Don’t give up. One thing that Angela is known for is giving it her all. Never give up applies to everything. Angela when developing her site leveraged this modo and now she leverages it for her Beach Body Coach business.
Angela plans to continue leveraging her programming skills to make a difference in her life and that of others.