My Name is Genny and I Want to Code.

That was the subject line of the emails I sent to the various programming courses available in Portland just 4 days ago, after being introduced to the idea of entering the tech industry on Monday. I’m now set to begin my first class this Tuesday!

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone working on a PhD? Try adding 5000 miles and a 9 hour time difference. Yeah, son-of-a-nutcracker. My partner, love and best friend is across the pond working on a PhD in Zurich, at ETH. I’ve spent the last few months trying to find a job in Zurich, but I don’t speak fluent German, and it’s really hard to get visa sponsorship.

I just spent the last year interning abroad in Germany so that I could get to know his family and gain some insight into his odd but adorable personality quirks (Germans say, “Ops-sa-la!” instead of “oops!”; I love it.). He applied to no less than 40 engineering positions in the US but was unable to secure visa sponsorship. My visa ran out and I had to come home. It totally sucks to be separated because of visa restrictions.

Isolation and rapidly diminishing savings meant that I had to be open to new ideas.

I’m a teacher by trade with a masters degree in English. I love to read, analyze and write, and have never considered a career in anything remotely technological until a week ago, when I happened upon a lovely little phenomenon called the XOXO Festival. XOXO is described on their webpage as “an experimental festival celebrating independently produced art and technology.”

And let me tell you, I found the love.

Over the course of the weekend, I talked with and listened to so many creative, intelligent, inspiring and driven individuals in the tech industry that I was completely blown away. I was a little surprised at the volunteer meeting when I was the only person there who wasn’t really into technology or creating anything of interest to the greater world. Well, a weekend at XOXO and I’ve caught the bug.

While there I met a wonderfully eccentric Canadian named Pete Forde. He told me that he was a “Hacker Tourist” and he convinced me to try programming. This was on Monday. I went home, hammered away at Codecademy for a few days, learned some basic HTML and CSS, and signed up for a JavaScript course.

I’m really excited about coding. There are so many cool things happening in tech, and I love the idea of being able to work with smart people no matter where I am. My goal is to learn enough to be able to find a job that would allow me to reunite with my love in Zurich… but the journey there suddenly seems really fun, too.

A lot can happen in a week: you can now find me on GitHub and HackerNews under grumancik. I’ll begin learning JavaScript on Tuesday at Portland Code School, have started a habit of checking HackerNews in the morning, and will hopefully be well on my way down a new career path soon.

I’ve learned that a lot can happen on Hacker News if you ask the right questions while being generous at the same time, so here is my first ask: I only have an Acer netbook, and it’s true that it leaves off parts of Codecademy (I can’t see the “hints” at the bottom of the screen!) and my scrolling feature is incredibly temperamental. Anyone have a previous-generation MacBook Pro that I could buy or borrow?

And here’s my offer to you: if you’re a founder about to launch your new project, why don’t you let me take a look at your copy and messaging? I can almost certainly give you good tips, fix any grammar bugs and maybe help your conversion.

Thanks for reading!


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