This week, I published Coraline Ada Ehmke's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:
- Coraline's story begins with the creation of a decision-based game, on paper, on her bedroom floor, as a child. Like Ada Lovelace -whose name she took as a homage- she dealt with logic and programmed even before she had a computer to play with.
- Very early in her childhood, Coraline got mentored by her teacher, Mr Williams. His trust, help and guidance, helped her get on the right tracks and gain momentum. This is again the perfect example of how important mentor figures are. This is the perfect example how a little bit of help and attention at the right time can go the longest way.
- Coraline studied computer science in college, but ended up dropping ; mostly out of boredom. She started a career in marketing and continued "hacking on computers" for her own pleasure. She only came back to working as a professional developer accidentally, through the backdoor, when the World-Wide-Web emerged in the mid 90s.
- Coraline describes the job of a developer as using your own creativity to solve someone else's problem, then collaboration is paramount. Watching people work and understand what they really are trying to accomplish, what they do and who will work on/with it next is key.
- Coraline told us the "locksmith parable" to illustrate what our moral responsibility when accepting to do a job is. When we find ourselves in toxic environments, we have to accept our responsibility to face it. When we are asked to do something morally reprehensible, we have to stand up to it. Accepting because "otherwise someone else will" is a lame excuse.
- When Coraline underwent her gender transition, she looked at the women in tech that she admired, and listed the qualities she admired in them. Trying to live up to those qualities became her goal.
- Coraline wrote her values down and looks at them everyday. These are her north-star.
- The most important skill of a software engineer is not to know the answer, but to be able to find it.
- "Software alone is never the answer to a problem, there are people, processes and the software they use. In order to be successful, you have to address all 3 areas."
- "Communities are people with shared values, those values are expressed in code of conducts/contributor covenants"
- "Doing good things is hard, making changes is hard, standing up for your beliefs is hard. There is no shortcut. You have to reflect on your values and ask yourself if you are living them. Because if you are not, they are not really your values."
- "If we don't live a life following our values, what's the point?"
- "When you are in an interview, you are also interviewing the company. If you want to find satisfaction in your work, you need to find a company which is aligned with one or more of your values and is not opposed to one or more of your values"
Thanks Coraline for sharing your story with us!
Did you listen to her story?
- What did you learn?
- What are your personal takeaways?
- What did you find particularly interesting?