Social Good + Technology = Happiness for All

I recently went to a Holiday Meetup Mashup sponsored by ThoughtWorks in Dallas that was centered around the idea of bringing social good and technology together to create helpful solutions to issues.

The event began with you signing in and grabbing your pre printed name tag if you RSVP’d, they also suggested everyone put a star sticker on their name tag with a color to indicate if you are a non profit in need of help (red), a technologist who can offer help (green) or whether you were there to enjoy the event (gold). I thought the process made it easier for everyone to be identified.

There was an hour of social/networking time before the eight lightning talks began. The talks varied from specific non profits speaking on how they needed help to developers who have helped non profits and continue to do so.

I especially enjoyed the talks given about The Texas Parks and Wildlife and <Bold Idea>. The parks and wildlife talk wanted to bring together technology and the outdoors since most kids are on their electronic devices. The speaker wanted to marry to two ideas together. <Bold Idea> needed volunteers and developers to help mentor kids who enjoy tech. The idea is to hone in on their skills while they are young so they have a healthy exposure to it at an early stage in their life.

After the lightning talks, it was networking time. I also had a chance to speak to the organizer of the event and give feedback and connect with some people in the non profit industry who needed tech help. They also had a wall where you can add your contact info to a post-it note and tag it on the wall and those who needed help can put there info as well so we could connect. I thought it was brilliant, especially if you were in a hurry.

The event ended when you put your name tag into one of three buckets to indicate how you enjoyed the event: Enjoyed it, somewhat liked it or hated it. I sneaked a peek and found that most enjoyed the event.

I plan to get involved with mentoring in the <Bold Idea> project and see if I can come up with some ideas for the Texas Parks and Wildlife. Oh, and organizer mentioned they wanted to schedule a hackathon in the near future, can’t wait for that!

All and all, the event was awesome and I look forward to many more!

My Web Developer Story

In the beginning, I had a Macintosh Apple computer when I was elementary school, I played games on it mostly until we got dial up internet. I was enamored by the fact that I could talk to people that were around the globe and utilize the web. Further along in life, while in college, I was trying to figure out what to major in and decided to go along with Business Management based on the fact that since my parents owned their own business that I should at least know how to manage one for the future.

While taking one of my business classes, an intro MIS course, which consisted of learning Microsoft Excel, Access and Powerpoint, I was introduced to the idea that I could major in MIS, at the time I had no idea what it was and I was not really interested in changing my major. About a year later, I was apart the Relay for Life organization at my university where one of our members was in charge of updating the website…I was intrigued and she told me more about what she was majoring in, which was MIS. Her advice was to talk to the head of the department and find out if I was interested. During my visit with the head of the department, I was advised to take a summer course at a local community college to see if the field would be of interest to me. I did so and took my first Visual Basic C++ course; I loved the fact that I could see instant results of what I created. Most of my projects where arithmetic related but it was awesome to see that there was a language I could program on a computer with to make these results appear. I returned the following fall semester ready to change my major to MIS and in doing so was required to take a mix of Computer Science and business courses.

I struggled along in my data structures course, but managed to make it through. I was beginning to wonder if I should throw in the towel; in the end, I liked the industry as a whole enough that I would muddle through it until I figured it out.

In the following semester, I was taking several courses in PHP and MySQL and I thoroughly enjoyed the information presented and doing projects in those courses.

Query from ProjectI believe it had something to do with the fact that I was able to print data from a database onto a webpage. At any rate, I also took a course which introduced me to Microsoft Frontpage which I used to make a web site for my parents business (newly updated at tandtenterprises.net).

As my college days were winding down, I took a course in HTML/CSS which was I found really refreshing because I could open up a blank text document and start writing HTML/CSS that would eventually be available for the world to see.

First HTML/CSS Site

My senior year, I took my final MIS course which consisted of our class learning ASP.Net to build a website for a nonprofit organization that needed a website to showcase the steps a high school student should complete in order to get into college. I enjoyed the entire process: creating themes on poster board and sharing it with the team, helping to create the CSS and finally each of us coded a page for the site; we shared our results with a couple reps from the nonprofit organization. The project was meant to be sort of like a mockup; we started it and other people would continue to build on what was started with.

Plan for AJX Non Profit Site Senior Project

All in all, I enjoyed my journey into web development, after college, I assumed I would just get a job in tech and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, the jobs I did land, had nothing to do with me programming and I figured out that I need more experience than I had in order to be in the career I wanted. In 2014, I decided I would turn things around for myself: I joined meetups geared towards web development, I setup and created my own website and towards the end of the year, I had a couple interviews but sadly received no offer. This year, I decided to give my website a face lift going through the design and development process and after taking breaks from meetups, I decided to start back up again and am thoroughly enjoying it.

I’m currently enhancing my bootstrap skills; I am going through the book called Step By Step Bootstrap to develop using a framework. I plan on using the skills I learn to redo the Kerala Association website (a nonprofit I created a mockup site for).

I’ve also been delving into the design process more and have been going through some Photoshop lessons to challenge myself to take a PSD to HTML.

All in all, things are looking up for me and I hope to join the many in the tech industry as a Web Developer soon!