Tag Archives: web developer

Midterm developer profile

For years Vivian Do lived with her parents and two sisters, who were keen to have professions in the IT field due to their dad’s long and successful career in computer engineering. In 2014 Do enrolled in a computer science program at the University of Maryland College Park, a path that eventually led her to become one of the youngest web developers in her class.

From the onset, Do and her two sisters — Christina and Jess — knew their life would be different from the others kids in their Towson, Md. neighborhood.  They explored with computers and other pieces raided from their father’s work. Do’s two sisters eventually chose a different path as they grew up, but she was determined to do something in relation to computers.

“My two sisters went into the health field and I choose a different path,” Do said. “When I was younger, my sisters and I always liked — I guess — the more guys toys like the video games more so than dolls. So I guess early on I knew I like more boy toys.”

During Do’s years in high school, she was mainly attracted to computer language courses and programs. She eventually continued to pursue her interest by taking some classes from some community colleges.

“I took some courses in high school and community college and those are hard, but I kind of like the different of thinking that you need for coding,” Do said.

A high school JavaScript course ultimately solidified her decision to pursue computer science, and later, web development.

“When you are coding there’s a different approach to it and I think that’s what intrigued me about coding,” she said. “You have to actually switch your mindset to be able to do it.”

Prior to starting her computer science program at the University of Maryland, Do noticed her lack of interest in the electrical aspect of computer engineering. This meant, she wouldn’t be able to do same job as her dad.  

“In the beginning I wanted to do more engineer stuff because I like building things, but I realized I didn’t like the electrical sides and that’s how I became more computer science base,” Do hinted.

The transition from computer science to web development begun at the University of Maryland —  searching for student run programs and learning new computer languages by herself. Despite being a full-stack developer Do prefers working the front end. She says programs like HTML, CSS and JavaScript more than harder languages like Python and others.

“[I’m] not a big fan of those because those are more geared towards back-end and engineering languages,” Do said. “HTML, CSS are like markup languages that aid me in my work. JavaScript has logic in it, it has functions, and variables that kind of thing. It has aspects like the back-end developer engineering languages and it’s geared towards web development.”

The other reason she prefers HTML and CSS is because they are little bit more intuitive and easier to learn. The other programming languages, she says, gave her a tough time at the onset, but with persistence they became easy to work with.

“For me the hardest thing was the coding, when I first started learning coding,” she said. “I actually hated it and it took a long time to grasp it, but after a while it became cool. And so even though learning JavaScript can be really tough, you keep going at it and it will eventually click.

“It just takes a little patience. If you like to do it just keep getting at it because there’s a huge demand for it as the field keep growing.”

During her time on campus, Do worked as a web designer for the Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Scientific Computation (AMSC) program at the University of Maryland. She was hired to remake their less interactive website more intuitive and efficient to attract more students.

“They had so many links, but the links weren’t set up right,” she said. “Most of the files did not make sense so they wanted it to look nice and attract new students. I had to redesign it and develop it. I used a content management system called Joomla but to customize it, and used HTML and CSS as well.”

Do just secured a new job at the Booz Allen Hamilton, where she will consult as a front-end developer and designer. She will be working with a team of UI/UX designers and developers, and will be using React, Angular, and other UI libraries to create an amazing user experience. She will also learn how to provide accessibility for all users by developing a web system that is easy to use, saves time and resources, and works across browsers, platforms, and devices while meeting accessibility and security requirements.

For more about Vivian Do’s work, read her bio here


Karen Howell Demands her Seat at the Table

You wake up around 8:30 a.m. to start your day. Before you even get out of bed, you’re checking emails from clients to make sure nothing urgent needs to be handled. Once you’ve showered, dressed, and eaten, you’re climbing into the car and heading to the office. As soon as you get settled, you look at the time on your laptop screen. It’s already 10:15 a.m. Now it’s time to make a to-do list of all your responsibilities for the day. You might have to update some code on a site and record a screen capture so your client can understand the changes you’ve made. Your phone vibrates. It’s time to go to a meeting. After that you have two back-to-back conference calls. Between all these meetings, you’re communicating with clients through various project management systems. It’s a good thing work ends at 5 p.m. However, learning doesn’t.  Later on tonight you’ll be attending a class for a new programming language. This is the everyday life of a web developer.

Originally from Los Angeles, Seattle-based web developer Karen Howell was eager to express her love for her profession. She is a freelance web developer, designer, and digital media strategist with a background in sales and management. This isn’t uncommon considering that the top majors developers have degrees in are computer and information sciences, visual and performing arts, and business, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Some of her specialties include WordPress, Squarespace and ConvertKit. She leverages this expertise to work with small businesses to build their online presence. After a decade-long career in sales, she realized she needed more of a challenge. Sales didn’t allow her to be as creative as she would’ve liked to be. With her already-established online community through beauty blogging, she started dabbling with code by customizing her WordPress website templates. After talking to people she already knew in the web development field, she transitioned into web development and design.

When asked what the biggest challenge was a newcomer to the developing world, she said with a laugh, “Definitely JavaScript. I had a pretty good handle on HTML and CSS, but I didn’t feel like I was really getting somewhere until I got over that hump of JavaScript. I almost quit about three times.” Although she now has years under belt, she stressed that the learning never stops. The technology field is constantly evolving, so web developers have the challenge of keeping up with it. This fast-growing field also calls for curious minds who genuinely enjoy figuring out how to solve problems. “As a developer, you have to be willing to look at the bigger picture in order to break problems into smaller steps. In addition, you have to comfortable and confident enough to assert that you can offer your client the solutions they need,” Howell stresses.

The web development field can be especially challenging to navigate when you are working with people who don’t look like you. Karen offered some perspective on the disparities she has seen first-hand. She shared, “A lot of times I am the only female and the only black person in the room. Sometimes when I’m in a room full of men, especially older developers, there’s a bit of an ego problem.” She said she’s even had to endure being talked over during a presentation. Situations like this could easily make someone want to shrink back but Karen has a more positive outlook. “I think it’s important that I continue to show up. Just because we’re not there in high numbers doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be there.” The numbers are less than progressive. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60 percent of web developers are male. 77.4 percent of developers are white, while African-Americans make up around only 6 percent. When asked why the lack of diversity still exists in 2018, she pointed out the overall education gap. “It’s hard to learn how to get into the industry and who to speak to, especially when all communities don’t have the same resources.”

Despite the statistics, Karen encourages those interested in web development to take full advantage of all the free resources available online. The industry is becoming more accessible to all communities with groups such as Black Girls Code, Women Who Code, MotherCoders, and AllStarCode. Even Google has recognized the importance of inclusion, and now has a tech lab in their New York office for Black Girls Code. It is also important to note that this industry is booming. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the growth rate for developers is 7.4 percent faster than the national average over a 10-year span of employment. As the industry grows, we can only hope that the diversity rates will parallel these rates.