Lost in STEM: First JavaScript Meetup

STEM-related typography on top of an astronaut floating in space

A literature major and 29 JavaScript programmers walk into a bar—and, no, this isn’t the start of a joke.

A few months ago, I attended my first JavaScript meetup, and it was not even a safe all-female coding space—I was one of three women in a room of 30. And I’m pretty sure I was the only one who had a background in literature, editing, and writing.

As I was walked into the room, I heard, “Danger, Will Robinson!” But I went and I survived. It was a very warm and inviting group, and because I’ve been reading JavaScript blogs and articles, I wasn’t completely lost the entire time.

You Lost Me at Frameworks

When I went to a bootcamp info session for front-end development, I felt lost with most of the terms and wrote everything down to look up later.

JQuery? Frameworks—we aren’t talking pictures, right? Angular? Bootstrap—not to be confused with Bootstrap Bill Turner? Text editors?

Arturo told me to ask what text editor they recommended using when I went to the info session. I wasn’t sure what I was asking about, but I did it. And the man who answered me even said it was a “great question.” I felt proud but only partly. I still wasn’t sure what I was asking. He told me that he used Sublime but also liked Adam. Yes, you read that correctly. I thought he said Adam, and later I found out that he said Atom—a much more science-like phrase. My head still thinks in terms of literature—just point me to the allegorical garden!

Finding My Way

At the meetup, I was a little more prepared. I knew about Atom. I’d joined the WomenWhoCode Slack network—yes, I now know about Slack. I’d completed 80% of the JavaScript lessons on Khan Academy. So I entered the room with all the confidence a lit major can. But, to my surprise, I followed approximately 85% of the conversation, which was impressive to me. Again, I jotted down unfamiliar words/phrases—check out arrows in ES6 and the merging of HTML and JavaScript with React and Angular2 frameworks—that I could research in the safety of my home.

The comforting (and potentially overwhelming) aspect of the programming world is that a lot of the experienced programmers in the room were still learning. The guy giving the talk had not tried Angular2, and he was surprised to hear that it mixes HTML and JavaScript. (He was adamant about not mixing the two.) Technology changes quickly, so I know that I can pick up these terms and learn the latest and greatest just in time to relearn the next one.

For now, I’ll just keep learning the coding basics and celebrate little victories such as figuring out how to make my Magic 8 Ball answer questions when the user clicks the mouse!

Click the image to see this project.

magic 8 ballIt doesn’t shake—yet!

It is a little frustrating coming out of a Ph.D. program where I spent years mastering a particular subject only to be lost in the world of programing languages. I do feel a little lost in space with all the concepts being thrown at me: arrays on Monday, looping on Tuesday, and objects on Wednesday. It can be overwhelming.

Luckily, the same curiosity that got me into and successfully out of a Ph.D. program will help me learn another new skill. Like Will Robinson, I’m jumping around from tech blogs and  programming lessons to meetups until I find my JavaScript home.

2 Replies to “Lost in STEM: First JavaScript Meetup”

  1. This is fascinating, as I have never been to a meetup full of developers and most of my coding skills are a hodgepodge of various pieces of stackoeverflow comments for issues, youtube videos and self-learning experiences. Recently, I was assigned a project that heavily relies on JQuery and BootStrap and I have found it enjoyable to learn and code to bring the project to completion. Frameworks with already written functions, which you can extend or reuse make it easier and quicker to implement requirements for projects at work, where the bottom line is time.

    1. DrDeveloper says: Reply

      I definitely recommend checking out meetups. I have learned a lot about the programming world, and it has helped build my confidence by exposing me to programming jargon. I have learned about a range of topics, including chatbots, UX, and Ruby. And JQuery and BootStrap are two things that are mentioned often at the meetups, so I am excited to learn more about them! I’m glad that you have found them helpful, and I will pick your brain about what you have learned in the future.

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