S2E1: From teacher to GitHub employee with Briana Swift

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In the first episode of Season 2 of the Learn to Code With Me podcast, I speak with Briana Swift. She taught herself to code using free online resources while she was seeking a career change. Briana is a former elementary school music teacher who currently works as a trainer at GitHub.

In our conversation, we learn about how Briana's musical background led to her interest in coding. She discusses her learning process and how she prepared for interviews with tech companies. She talks about when she knew it was time to start putting herself out there and start applying to jobs. She also mentions the valuable lessons she learned from the interview process itself.

Briana explains the importance of soft skills, and cautions against relying on tech skills alone. She offers advice on setting clear goals and tracking progress as you learn. She also details how her activity on Twitter and YouTube helped lead her to the awesome job she has today.

Key takeaways:

  • Look for ways to get involved in the tech community. You never know how your contributions will pave the way for opportunity down the road.
  • Don't wait until your skills are perfect to start applying to jobs. The interview process is a valuable teaching tool, and it will show you where your skills are lacking.
  • Don't underestimate the importance of soft skills. Show potential employers that you know how to communicate and work well as part of a team.
  • Make your technical knowledge easy to find through a GitHub profile or other online account. Interviewers will appreciate knowing what you can do before you walk in the door.
  • Take any opportunity to do pairing as part of the interview process. Showing off your tech chops as you get to know people is a better way to connect with potential employers.
  • If you're looking to make a career change, determine your main motivation and focus your positive energy on that. Defining actionable goals will help you make progress.

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Special thanks to this episode’s sponsor

Flatiron School: If you’re looking for a career change, sign up for classes today at flatironschool.com. Don’t forget to take advantage of the special Learn to Code With Me discount and get $500 off your first month!


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