CodeNewbie With Saron Yitbarek, Part 2

CodeNewbie With Saron Yitbarek, Part 2

In this episode, we conclude our interview with CodeNewbie founder Saron Yitbarek. We discuss the value of shared learning through the Ruby Book Club, discuss what makes the Codeland Conference unique, and talk about the challenges and opportunities of sharing our own stories and coding journeys. We also turn the tables on Saron and ask her to play a version of her own podcast’s “Rapid Fire Fill in The Blank”.

itunesrss

Panelists:




References:


Any questions or suggested topics?
Let us know!


Transcript:

[Begin Intro]

MICHAEL LARSEN: Hello and welcome to the Testing Show, Episode… 52.

[Begin Intro Music]

This show is sponsored by Qualitest. QualiTest Software Testing and Business Assurance solutions
offer an alternative by leveraging deep technology, business and industry-specific understanding to deliver solutions that align with client’s business context. Clients also comment that QualiTest’s solutions have increased their trust in the software they release. Please visit QualiTestGroup.com to test beyond the obvious!

[End Intro]

MICHAEL LARSEN: Hello and thanks for joining us for Part Two of our CodeNewbie Interview with Saron Yitbarek. If you haven’t listened to Episode 51 yet, I strongly suggest you press pause, load that episode, and listen to it first. Of course, you are welcome to listen to our shows in any order you would like to, so if you are game to continue at this point, by all means, on with the show…

MICHAEL LARSEN: So, you also offer another avenue. You’ve got the CodeNewbie Podcast. You’ve got your CodeNewbie Twitter Chat. You’ve also got the Ruby Book Review, or the Ruby Book Club.

SARON YITBAREK: Yes.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Ruby Book Club ?

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah. Um-hum.

MICHAEL LARSEN: I love that too, because my blog (TESTHEAD), the tagline for it is, “The Mis-Education and Re-Education of a Software Tester.”

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER]. That’s awesome.

MICHAEL LARSEN: “The fables and adventures of learning in public.” [LAUGHTER].

SARON YITBAREK: Um-hum.

MICHAEL LARSEN: One of the methods that I used and when I saw the Podcast taking a chapter-by-chapter approach I thought, “Oh, that’s awesome,” because that’s one of the things that I do. If I say, “You know, I want to read this book,” one the best ways to commit to me reading a book and absolutely working through it is to—

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: —say, “I’m going to actually work through this book; and, if I think it’s great, I’m going to share why I think it’s great. If it’s frustrating, I’m going to share why I think it’s frustrating.” I did that years ago with the first Selenium Tools Book that David Burns wrote. I just thought, “I’m going to take it chapter-by-chapter, and hey, we’ll see what happens with it. Okay. Great.” I didn’t really expect much of it, but what was fantastic was is that as I was working through the problems I was saying, “Well, this kind of worked well. This didn’t work. Well, I’m not really sure what’s going on here.” Dave actually wrote back to me and he said, “Hey. Yeah, just to let you know, you’re trying to run this on Windows, and I did this on a Linux Box. You’re probably going to see some weirdness and some things that don’t quite line up here. Don’t get discouraged.” That’s just the fact that, at that point in time, it was 2010, Selenium and Windows, eh, was still a little bit slippery. It wasn’t quite working the same way, but it was so cool to realize, “Oh, my gosh. The author of this book actually reached out to me because I posted this as an article series and helped me figure out why I was so frustrated.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah. The book that we’re reading now is, Ruby Under a Microscope , which is all about the internals of the Ruby Programming Language. I’m pretty sure Pat Shaughnessy, the author, like listens to most of the episodes, and it’s so weird.

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER].

SARON YITBAREK: Like it’s so weird, because we’re pretty honest and critical. Like, if we don’t like something in the book, we will say so. You know, we’ll say, “This paragraph was confusing, Pat. I think that, you know, Pat could have done this better.” Like, we’re very honest about it, but it’s really cool. Because there was a point where—I don’t what episode it was in—we were both getting a little frustrated and pretty confused about some kind of major parts of the chapter and we said so on the show, and then we got a lovely e-mail from Pat who said, “Hey. I wrote this extra blog post for you that hopefully clears up the confusion about these specific points. Take a read, and if you have more questions, like, let me know.” I was like, “Oh, awesome.” It was super helpful, and it cleared everything up. So, yeah. Getting the opportunity to interact with authors and also kind of find out, like, authors are human and they put out something that they think is going to be helpful and they think is going to be good, but there’s always room for improvement. There’s always feedback. All that is really cool.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Oh, I definitely agree with that. I’ll also put a shameless plug out there because I’ve actually been enjoying it. Though I’m only a few chapters in, I really am enjoying the [Python] Programming for Kids Book that Jessica wrote.

SARON YITBAREK: I bet she didn’t like that at all.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Have you really?

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: Yes.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: No. Actually, it’s Python Programming.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Python Programming. I’m sorry.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: I may be working on another one. They just reached out to me again to do something, but yeah. It’s definitely interesting; because, not only are authors human, but there are other people in the process.

SARON YITBAREK: Right.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Depending on how that goes, I have editors for my books; but, in general, I edit my own stuff because of a history teaching grammar. So, that’s helpful. But, the code editing stuff—like the technical editing—you know, there was some rushing in that and there was Python 2 versus Python 3, and we decided to go with 2.7 and, you know, all this stuff. So, like, all these kinds of things happened behind the scenes and so people see this book, you know, but they don’t see the six-to-nine months of—

SARON YITBAREK: Oh, yeah.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: —back and forth. I love it when people bring up something to me because, you know, I’ve had a few testers now go through my book and say, “Oh, you know, this was really helpful for me to understand, but did you see that think on page…?” [LAUGHTER]. You know, like, “Yeah.”

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: “Tell me more.”

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER].

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: “Tell me more.” But, it’s good because not only does it help me to explain what’s going on, it also helps me to look forward and say, “Okay. How can I do this better in the future? If I do it, how can I be clearer? What kinds of exercises are more helpful?” It forces me to dig into my understanding of the concept. So, it’s all good.

MICHAEL LARSEN: This is really neat, because I remember when you were telling me, “Oh, yeah. You know, I happen to have this book on it, and I subscribed to Packt’s mailing list. One day it just popped up and I saw the Python Projects for Kids and went, “That’s it. I know who wrote that.”

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER].

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Yeah. [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: So, I jumped on it. I grabbed it. So, hopefully you can at least get a little bit of a check. [LAUGHTER].

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Uh, yeah. I think now I’m actually in the earning phase. So, it took me around 1-1/2 years to get out of the pre, you know, like they give you the Forward?

MICHAEL LARSEN: Oh, yeah.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: So, the Advance Phase. So, the Advance comes out of the actual earnings. So, I think I’m in my earning phase now.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Good. Great.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Thanks. You know, the best part about it is having a book to teach my class with. [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: [LAUGHTER]. It has like the curriculum I want, and actually it’s cool. A high school teacher in Romania is working on translating the exercises for his students.

MICHAEL LARSEN: That’s terrific.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Like, the descriptions. So, it’s pretty cool. You know, it goes around. Having these conversations with people has been really informative and educative. I’m very thankful, and I’ve been thankful to see testers actually pick it up as a way to either explain certain concepts to their teams or just learn a little more about programming themselves. Like, that’s been neat. Because programming is—like I said at the beginning—hard for me. It’s so not easy. I’ve really had to work through every concept. So, it’s kind of nice when I start to actually just have like second-hand nature of some of this stuff. Just because it’s like, “Oh, whoa.” That moment of, “I got this. I understand something finally.” [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: That’s terrific. So, Saron?

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: As if you haven’t gotten so many other things already, I mean, with just the Podcast and the Basics Podcast and the other experiences and everything else that you’ve done, you are a very, very, very busy person. But, now let’s add on top of that, that you also organize a conference, and that just two days ago—

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: —you were online for (I don’t know) six hours actively reading proposals—

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: —and discussing proposals in a live chat. Do you sleep?

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER]. Yeah. I sleep a lot actually. So, it’s really funny. I do a lot of things all the time. I mean, like, all I do is CodeNewbie. I work all the time, because that’s just how I want my life to be. I love working on CodeNewbie. I love doing podcasting and the conference and the Twitter chats and all these other things. So, I spend almost 100 percent of my time on that; and, when you spend 100 percent of your time on 1 thing, there’s a lot of time that you can do, [LAUGHTER], you know, there’s a lot of time that you have and a lot of stuff that you can get done. So, it’s really just that simple. I definitely sleep. I sleep at least 7 hours a night. I’m at a point where my body (just) it won’t work with me if I don’t sleep. I can’t do it. I used to be able to do it. I used to be able to pull multiple all-nighters and still get up and keep it going and everything was fine, but my body no longer allows me to do that. So, if I don’t get at least 7 hours of sleep at night, I’m basically hung over and useless, and I have like terrible stomachaches. So, yeah. “I sleep all the time,” [LAUGHTER], is the answer to that.

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER]. Okay. That was a little bit of facetious lead in to what I was really trying to get to, but I’m definitely going to include that.

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: That’s Codeland .

SARON YITBAREK: Yes.

MICHAEL LARSEN: That is an idea of a CodeNewbie Conference.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Which I think is so very cool, because so often I had always thought that, “Oh, there’s no way that someone like me would be able to go speak at a software development conference. Oh, come on.” But, Codeland is the opportunity for people who are, maybe, new to the industry, who are in that journey part at different points in their journey, are able to get up and speak about what they’re learning, and I think it’s so cool that there is that option. So, tell us a bit about Codeland.

SARON YITBAREK: Sure. So, Codeland is a two-day conference in New York City, May 4th and 5th of 2018. So, tickets are available. Make sure to get yours before they sell out. The whole point of the conference is—you know, I speak a lot, just about every month. I’ve spoken all over the world, and I give a lot of talks at, you know, developer conferences specifically—for me, I feel like, to be totally honesty, I think most conference talks are terrible. I really do. I think most talks are not very well put together. They don’t really care about the audience. A lot of them are. To me, like the most disappointing talks are the ones where the speaker is very high profile in presence and people are really excited to see them, and they completely half-ass it. Completely, and they will tell you that on stage. I can’t tell you the number of speakers, the number of really respected people, who go on stage and say, “Yeah. I threw together these lines last minute in my hotel room this morning.” I’m like, “Really? Why would you tell me that? I paid so much money and gave up my day, my week, and you told me that you don’t really care to be here or to give me anything of value.” So, for me, after going to a lot of conferences, I saw a lot of things that I found very frustrating, and I really didn’t like. But, I also saw a lot of potential. I saw conferences that really, really cared about community. DjangoCon is one of my favorite examples of this where, you know, I’m not a Python Developer. I’m a Ruby Developer. So, DjangoCon was my first exposure to the Python World. There were all these little things they did, just little details, where it was just so obvious they really, really cared and wanted the attendees to feel special, to feel wanted, to feel like they belonged. They put on not a flashy conference. It was very well executed, but it felt like a lot of the time and money and energy they spent was really making sure that every dollar I spent as an attendee I really got a lot of value from it. So, after doing my accidental, unintentional market research, I guess, [LAUGHTER], I walked away and I said, “Man, I really want to do my own conference. I want to take all the things that I love about conferences and all the things that I hate about conferences and I want to put together what I think is the ultimate conference experience.” So, for me, that means a couple of things:
One, it’s making sure that attendees get the most value they possibly can. Usually when I attend a conference, I’m the speaker. So, you know, I don’t really have to pay. But, I don’t assume that everyone is there for free. I know that a lot of attendees go to conferences because their company pays for it. I never assume that. You should assume, if you’re a conference organizer, that your attendee is paying out of pocket. If someone is paying $200.00, $300.00, sometimes up to $1,000.00 for a conference ticket and they’re paying for their flight (assume that people are out of state), they are paying for their hotel for 3-4 nights, if they are taking off work for 4-or-5 days of your conference, that’s a lot of money.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Yes, it is.

SARON YITBAREK: That’s a lot of money—1 Grand, 2 Grand, 3 Grand—you know, depending on the location and the city. So, you need to provide 2-Grands worth of value to that attendee. That means, for me, some of my basic pet peeves are conferences that don’t offer coffee and water, which I’ve been to before, “I don’t know what you’re thinking. Give me some water and give me some freaking caffeine when I get there.” [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER].

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Yeah.

SARON YITBAREK: Right? Right?

MICHAEL LARSEN: Yes.

SARON YITBAREK: Oh, I remember attending a conference—

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Yo!

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah. Go ahead. Tell me. Let me know. Go ahead, Jess.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: It’s just really. It is rude.

SARON YITBAREK: It’s rude.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: I mean, in the sense that you have to sit there. I’m in New York and also I was planning on attending the conference, so now I’m definitely planning on attending the conference.

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER]. Good.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: But, yeah, I’ve been there, and it’s like, if you’re local to the conference, it’s almost worse because that means you’re driving or taking the bus or, you know, you’re like sitting in a ton of traffic.

SARON YITBAREK: Commuting.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Yeah. You’re not close. If you’re me, [LAUGHTER], you slept in. Because you needed to be awake, of course you slept in. You’re like rushing. You’re just praying that there’s a cup of coffee there, and then there’s nothing.

SARON YITBAREK: Uh, it’s the worst.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Like, nothing.

SARON YITBAREK: It’s the worst. Yep.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: It’s rude.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah. There’s this one.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: So I’m just like, “No.”

SARON YITBAREK: There’s this one conference I went to where it was at a big convention center and they were water coolers, but there was no coffee. The only drinks that they had was they had this roped-off concession stand area where you could, like, go through the ropes and buy coffee; but, because it was a convention center and it was a concession stand, it was like $3.00/$4.00 for like the smallest cup of coffee, and it just made me so mad. I was like, “This is almost worse than just not having coffee at all.” [LAUGHTER]. “You’re teasing me and overcharging me.” It was ridiculous. So, yeah. So, little things like that go a long way. Things like, “Feed me. Provide lunch.”
Like, I know that lunch, depending on where the conference is, can be very expensive. I’ve done my research. I know how expensive catering can be. But I think that, “If I pay $1,000.00/$2,000.00 to be there, you should feed me.” I just fundamentally believe that. For me, you know, thinking about Codeland, I didn’t want it to be a, “Drop into this conference, learn a couple of things, and then leave.” I wanted you to come in, I want you to feel like family. I wanted you to feel like you belonged. I wanted to bring you, literally, to a Land of Code that has its own rules and its own magic and is a very warm, safe, cuddly place for you to be who you are. So, with my heritage and my background (I’m Ethiopian), food is a huge part of creating that experience. So, our food was amazing. I’ve never had conference food—

MICHAEL LARSEN: Ah-ha.

SARON YITBAREK: —the way that I had/we had our food. Our food was the best. It was. We had, you know, like fried chicken, mac and cheese. We also had vegan options too. We had burgers. We had Russian Burgers and stuff. Second day, I think it was Mediterranean. We had a bunch of amazing kabobs. We had shrimp. We had beef. We had chicken. We had tofu. We had everything. So, for me, like food is a huge part of creating that environment, that space. One of the things that I’m really proud of also is keeping in mind, you know, it’s not just a developer conference, it’s a developer conference for people who may not be experts yet, who may not be senior, who may not be mid-level. People who are just getting started. So, “How do you do that? How do you create an environment—a conference—for people who are beginners without talking down to them?” Right? Without making is so beginner friendly that, “If you’re a little bit beyond beginner, then you don’t get value. How do you balance that out?” So, one thing that I did is we created this program. In most places we called it, our, “Conference Booklet.” The idea for that was for all of the speakers, I had them submit, essentially, Show Notes for their talk. So, if they mentioned any technical words and jargon, any buzzwords, any frameworks, anything that as an attendee may make me go, “Wait a minute. What is that thing? Really, like, if I just knew that thing, this whole talk would make sense.” We put that on a sheet. So, each talk got a spread. There was like their, you know, speaker bio, their photo, their Twitter handle, and that kind of stuff, which is also really helpful because then you can tweet about that specific talk using their handle during the talk but also it had Show Notes for some of the words, the terminology that may trip you up, that you may not be very familiar with, and then we had a little section for you to take notes. We gave everyone a pen, and that was something that I wish every conference had.
Like, I wish I had little Show Notes because every talk I feel like there’s just one word, “If only I knew that one word, everything else would click.” So, I wanted to make sure that there was nothing that we had in the lineup that would possibly make you feel excluded from that conversation, and I got a lot of really, really good feedback on the program. The best part about it is once you leave the conference, it’s a really valuable keepsake. It’s not just a conference T shirt that you probably won’t ever wear again. [LAUGHTER]. It’s something that you can reference, you can look back on it. You can say, “What was that talk that one person gave?
Oh, I remember their face, but I don’t remember what they— Oh, here it is.” So, it becomes a really valuable book, a piece of information, after the conference is over. The other thing that I did that I think is probably the most expensive thing that I’ve done but definitely the thing that is, maybe, the most important is I worked with every single speaker. So, we had about 50 speakers for Codeland between the Panelist Workshop Leads and the Talk, the speaker speakers, and I worked with every single one of them and gave them about, on average, probably 4 hours of one on-one coaching. So, it wasn’t just, “Okay. You’re accepted. Show up at the conference. Good luck.” It was, “Okay. This is what you sent in your proposal. Let’s flesh it out. Let’s create an outline together. Let’s review your slides together. Let’s review the actual delivery of that talk.” That’s the thing—right?—talks are not lectures. It’s not some professor sitting at the front or standing at the front going, “This is what I know. Test is next Tuesday.” It’s a show. It’s a presentation. I think that some of the best speakers I’ve seen have a theater background, and I think those speakers do a much better job than people who have purely a technical background who haven’t quite mastered the art of presenting. A part of that one-on-one coaching is the presentation, the actual delivery of it.
So, for me, that’s huge. At the end of the day when I pay my $1,000.00/$2,000.00 to be at a conference, I expect to learn. I expect to be inspired. I want to guarantee you that. I want to know that, if you decide to spend all those hours, all those days with me, if you decide to spend those hundreds of dollars with me, I’m going to give you the most value that I can possibly give you for that time and for those dollars. To me, working with speakers, making sure their content is really, really strong, making sure there is a very strong story, making sure that it’s technical but still approachable, that’s a huge, huge part of creating that value for you. Also, I want to say that we do have an Opportunity Scholarship as well. So, I recognize that conferences are incredibly powerful; but, you know, at the end of the day, no matter how much value I bring, if you don’t have $2,000.00, it kind of doesn’t really matter. So, we do have an Opportunity Scholarship. The first conference that we had last year, I think, about 30 percent of the attendees that we had paid $25.00 to go there. We gave them an Opportunity Scholarship ticket. We covered their room, board, and most of the conference ticket. The $25.00 is really just to say, “Do you actually want to come? Are you actually going to show up?” But, we calmed the rest of that, and that was largely thanks to the many, many, many donations that we got. So, I’m really trying. I’m really trying to make sure that this is something that everybody can do. So, if you’re interested and you’re not local but you want to come, definitely check out, apply for the Opportunity Scholarship, and I’ll do my best to make sure you can be there.

MICHAEL LARSEN: That is great. So, for those who are not familiar with the CodeNewbie Podcast , Saron ends every show with the same little feature. It’s called, “Rapid Fire Fill in the Blank,” and I have wanted to ask you these questions—

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: —ever since I discovered this show. So, I am stealing your format, and I’m turning the tables. I know your husband did this for you on the show. But, for those who have not been familiar with this, I love this. I love the questions, and so I’m going to ask you: Will you play Rapid Fire Fill in the Blank with us?

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER]. Yes, go for it.

MICHAEL LARSEN: All right. Number 1: Worst advice I’ve ever received is…?

SARON YITBAREK: It’s so funny, because I don’t remember what I gave as my answer for my own show. So, this is like totally organic. Worst advice I’ve ever received is probably, “You need to be more patient.”

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER].

SARON YITBAREK: That’s probably the worst advice.

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER]. Oh, my. I wish you could just see my hands right now.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: I have like the heavy metal devil horns up going, “YES!”

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER]. I hate that so much, but I don’t think patience is a bad thing. I think patience is important. If you’re learning to code, you have to have patience. The context of that conversation was me saying, “I want to get here. I want us to work harder. I want us to push more.” The response was basically, like, “You need to slow down.” So, that’s what that means. That is definitely like one of the most, and that to me speaks to kind of a larger category of advice that I get. I think a lot of people look at what I do and just like how much stuff I do, I think they think I’m unhappy. Like, honestly. Like, I think that people think I’m like a miserable workaholic that just hides in her office and just works all the time and is sad all the time. It’s like, “No. I’m super happy.” Like, “I’m really, really excited.”

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: [LAUGHTER].

SARON YITBAREK: “I love my life. I love working.” I think that a lot of people will tell me, “Oh, you’re going to burnout. You need to slow down,” and I don’t think anything makes me angry than that advice. I understand that it comes from a good place. I understand that it comes from a place of like, “Oh, I want to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself,” and I know it comes from a place of love. “But, just get out of my face,” like that’s really how I feel. You know, like—

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: YES!

SARON YITBAREK: Right?

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: It’s so frustrating.

SARON YITBAREK: Okay. Thank you.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: [LAUGHTER].

SARON YITBAREK: Thank you.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: I live there. “You need to slow down, you need to relax.”

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: “All you do is work.” Blah, blah, blah, blah.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: You know what, “I freaking like it.”

SARON YITBAREK: Thank you. [LAUGHTER].

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: You touched a nerve. You touched a nerve. [LAUGHTER].

SARON YITBAREK: Yes. Yes. Oh, my goodness.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: I’m sorry, but it’s like, “Uh, I hate that.” Oh, hate it. I get from everybody. Yeah.
SARON YITBAREK: I get it all the time, especially because I’m a huge night owl. Like, my prime work hours are 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. For some reason, that’s just when things really click. So, I tend to tweet really, really late at night. But, now that I’m on specific time, like for my Eastern Time people, it’s like, really, really late at night. So I get a lot of like, “You should go to bed. Aren’t you tired? You should really stop now.” Look, “I work because I want to, because I like it, because I enjoy it.” Like, you can’t do what I do and be miserable. You just can’t. It’s just too much work. It’s too stressful. It’s too emotionally draining to do it and also hate doing it. You just can’t. You just can’t do it. So, that to me is just—oh—is the worst advice. It’s the most infuriating advice that I get.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: It is infuriating.

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER].

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: It’s actually anger making.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah. [LAUGHTER]. Yeah. That’s when I have to like just close the Twitter tab on my browser before I say something I’m going to regret. So, that’s when you stop.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Yeah.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER]. All right. Number 2: My first coding project was about…?

SARON YITBAREK: Okay. So, my first coding project that was like a complete project, that I remember anyway, was about frogs. It was a Rails App. Oh, it was terrible. It was absolutely terrible, but I was so proud of it. It was like there was a frog. I think there was like a mom frog or like a parent frog, and there were tadpoles. Then, one frog could like be friends with another frog. There was like a whole frog social network going on. When I say this, there were no pictures of actual frogs. [LAUGHTER]. You couldn’t see the frogs. It was just Frog 1, Frog 2, Frog 3, but being able to represent those relationships and understand the connection between this weird coding thing that I was doing and seeing it on a browser was absolutely magical.

MICHAEL LARSEN: That’s awesome. Number 3: One thing I wish I knew when I first started to code is…?

SARON YITBAREK: I wish I appreciated that the time will pass anyway. I think that there are so many moments in my coding journey that I said, “I don’t want to learn this language or this framework or this tool, because it’s going to take too long. It’s going to take too much time, and I already know this other tool. So, let me just keep going with this.” But, years have passed. Now I’m thinking, “Man, if I had started back when I said I was going to, I could have been like a JavaScript queen right now. You know, I could’ve known all the react things at this point.” You know, and I think this is kind of a general symptom of being in tech. You know, I was in the Startup World for a while, so being in that mentality it’s, “You need to do things right now. You need to see the results of your work in the next few months, ideally weeks, even better hours.” You know, it’s like, “We need to have this up and running. We need to see if this works.” So, learning just doesn’t work that way. At least for me it doesn’t. I was never the kind of person who could sit in lecture, here the professor explain something one time, and then ace a quiz. No. No. No. No. I was the person who was stuck in the library for hours and hours and hours, took that quiz 3 million times, read the textbook 5 times, highlighted everything, wrote all the index cards you could possibly imagine, carried my printer with me (true story) so I could print out extra exams, and then took the quiz and aced it. So, I forget that also applies to coding. Just doing one tutorial doesn’t get you there. You know, following one video series doesn’t get you there. Repetition and time are super, super, super important. If you keep saying, “Oh, well that’s too hard. That takes too much time,” eventually the time is going to pass anyway, and you’re going to end up not knowing all the stuff that you wish you knew but now you’re older and you’ve wasted time. So.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Very good advice. I definitely can appreciate that, and I’ve lived that. [LAUGHTER]. I know it extremely well. I keep saying the same thing to myself. Like, “Oh, my gosh. If I had only done this back here.”

SARON YITBAREK: Right. Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: “At this point in time I could be A, B, C, D.”

SARON YITBAREK: Yep.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Of course, I also, you know, remember very well being a musician, “Oh, if I had only been—” Sometimes that doesn’t quite work. You know, there’s a lot of luck when it comes to music.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: But, the nice thing is that code is fairly finite. I mean, yes. It changes. Yes, it evolves. But, if you learn the rules— Again, the computer is always right. But, the nice thing is, the computer is a bunch of 1’s and 0’s. It has to be right for you to be able to work it, but it’s not like it’s right because it’s outthinking you.

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: It’s only right because that’s the way the switches flip.

SARON YITBAREK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: When you finally get that you go, “Okay. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be hard. I’m probably going to be really confused and confusing.”

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER]. Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: You know, “But I’m going to hit 50 someday anyway.”

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER]. Yeah.

MICHAEL LARSEN: So, I might as well hit it knowing something.

SARON YITBAREK: “I might as well,” right. Exactly.

MICHAEL LARSEN: [LAUGHTER].

SARON YITBAREK: Exactly. That’s the thing too. You know, I think that what gets me excited about coding as a skill compared to a lot of other skills is I don’t believe that being a developer or being in tech is a pure meritocracy. I don’t believe that all it takes is the skills. But, I think that there’s a huge amount of, “What is your network, and who do you know? Are you at the right places at the right times?” There is a lot of other stuff that contributes to you being successful in software as a career anyway. But, I think that there is a lot more control you have over that than you do in a lot of other industries. You know, when I was in journalism, the number of journalists that were so experienced and so amazing who were unemployed. There just weren’t that many jobs. Those problems—economic market problems—don’t really exist. At least not to that degree in software and technology. So, I think that there’s a huge, huge opportunity for a lot of folks who may be traditionally left out of opportunities to really take advantage of it. Because, “Yes, luck is important.” I would be lying if I said luck didn’t have a huge part to play in the successes I’ve had. “Yes, it is who you know.” I’m very, very happy to be pretty well connected with other developers. But, your skills can take you a lot farther than I think your skills can in a lot of other careers. That’s what makes me really excited about it, and I hope that you learn those skills and build an awesome career. I wish you luck in your own coding journey.

MICHAEL LARSEN: That’s awesome. That’s a great place for us to wrap up this show. There is so much here. I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be a two-parter, no matter how I cut this.

SARON YITBAREK: [LAUGHTER].

MICHAEL LARSEN: But, that’s totally okay and that’s great. So, we have now reached the end of our show, which is where we do our shameless self-promotion. Saron, since you are our guest, how can people get in touch with you? How can they learn more about you?

SARON YITBAREK: So, to learn more about me, you can follow me on Twitter @saronyitbarek . It’s just my first name and my last name. You can also check out my personal website, which honestly I haven’t updated in a while, but there’s still some good stuff on there: saronyitbarek.com . If you do check that out, on my About Page, there’s this really awesome cartoon that I did as part of my application to my Bootcamp . It’s one of the projects I’ve done that I’m most proud of, even years later. I absolutely love this thing that I made. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration and you’re feeling a little down about your coding journey, definitely check that out. I think you’ll enjoy it. As far as CodeNewbie stuff, definitely follow us on Twitter. We’re definitely most active on that. It’s @CodeNewbies . Definitely make sure to check out Codeland and get your ticket. It’s codelandconf.com.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Fantastic. Jess, what are you up to?

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: We are in the swing of planning PyCon 2018, the Education Summit . So, anybody who is thinking about attending the Education Summit, registration is opening up.

MICHAEL LARSEN: Fantastic. As for me, I am super excited about the fact that I will be at STPCon Spring 2018 down in Newport Beach, and I will be giving a workshop on Accessibility and Inclusive Design. So, for those who have heard my talks and have heard me saying, “Yeah, that’s great. But, how do we get into the details,” I finally get to show you that. So, if you’re in the Newport Beach area and you want to come see my workshop, please do, and I will give links to that in the Show Notes. Otherwise, Saron, thank you so much for being with us today. I have really appreciated having you on the show and Jess. For those of you who are listening, thanks so much for taking part in this episode of The Testing Show, and we will see you again. Bye-bye.

JESSICA INGRASSELLINO: Bye.

SARON YITBAREK: Bye, everyone.

MICHAEL LARSEN: That concludes this episode of The Testing Show. By way of announcement, for 2018, the show will be going to a monthly format.
If you enjoy listening, we’d like to ask you to give us a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts. Those ratings and reviews help raise the visibility of the show and let more people find us. More listeners means more shows we can produce for you.
The Testing Show is produced and edited by Michael Larsen, Moderated by Matt Heusser, with frequent contributions from Perze Ababa, Jessica Ingrassellino and Justin Rohrman as well as our many featured guests who bring the topics and expertise to make the show happen.
Our theme Music is “Monochrome” by Ensign Red.
Additionally, if you have questions you’d like to see addressed on The Testing Show, or if you would like to BE a guest on the podcast, please email us at TheTestingShow(at)qualitestgroup(dot)com. Thanks for listening and we will see you again in February 2018.
[End Outro]