9.03.2015

Learn Something New





I never thought I would be a web developer. Back when I was thinking of what I wanted to do when I grew up, the internet wasn’t even a thing. And by the time I got to college, I knew the internet was cool but I liked making pretty stuff so I majored in graphic design. Now I still like making pretty stuff, but I also want to make sure it’s made well. And that it has a function or purpose besides just being pretty. 

So now web development is a good fit. I’ll probably write another blog post sometime about all the evolution of this career path. But today, I want to talk about Wordpress. 

At my last job, I worked in a big team of web developers. We created completely custom websites for people. It can get complicated to get into the details, but in general we preferred to make everything custom. This meant that some of my projects lasted a really long time because there were so many new things to learn and figure out for a specific client. 

I was lucky enough to work with a gal named Stacy. She was the back-end developer (the heavy lifting: servers, logic, CMS, databases, storage) and I was the front-end developer (pretty display stuff: colors, layout, fonts, hover states) on several websites. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make things work and how to make certain updates easier than the next time, etc. Being that I only had about a year of development experience, I was especially green when it comes to knowledge. I remember one time we went deep into a problem and she came up with a solution. I said, “Yeah that would probably work, but I don’t know how to do that. I’ll probably have to get Chris involved to help.” Her response, “Or maybe we should learn something new. I can help you, just start here, and then I’ll show you how to do that tricky part.”

She was so patient with me. She would slowly explain everything in analogies that made sense to me. Sometimes we would get in real tricky spots and I just wanted to give up. My solutions tended to lean to “let’s have someone else get us out of this mess,” her solution was ALWAYS to figure it out on our own. She would say, "Let's take this opportunity to learn something new. We'll figure it out together."
So I stuck with it. I challenged my mind.
I made a little design on a piece of paper that said "Learn Something New" and put it up near both of our computers. It was a good reminder.
I started tackling new topics instead of shying away from them.

When I decided to move back to Utah and take a new job, I hoped I could keep that can-do attitude with me. It was pretty hard for the first couple months. The process at my new job was very different from what I was used to. And I went from a team of 20+ developers to being completely alone. All of the other developers at different office in our agency use Wordpress, a platform I had never used.

When the opportunity came up to learn, I took it! I recreated a website for the Food & Care Coalition in Provo completely in Wordpress. It took lots of experimentation. It's not perfect and it took me way more time than I would want to admit, but I figured it out! And it's beautiful! It works and it shows up on mobile and it's great!


I am still completely and totally shocked that I was able to figure it out. To learn a server and database set up, to install plugins and use a responsive framework and add custom creative. It's just been really fulfilling. And it especially helps that it's for a non-profit organization that can really benefit from something like a nice website. We had a meeting where I walked the client through the process of adding content and how easy it was, and she was literally speechless. I held it together, but I really wanted to cry. I loved seeing someone benefit form something I had created. It made all of the hours of experimenting and breaking my layout and experimenting again and reading forums all worth it. 

I think in real life it's important to learn something new. I think we all get a little stuck in our ways and assume that the way we do things will always be the best. 

Figuring out my new life has been a bit tricky. Not being a student anymore, having free time and an income to use however I please, learning to be a wife and support my family, figuring out what type of church member and citizen I want to be. But I'm grateful to remember that I am always a student. I will never have it all figured it out. And of course, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know. I thought I was a relationship psychology expert, and now that I'm married, I feel like I know nothing about relationships. I thought I was a pretty decent front-end developer, until I learned a new programming language. I thought I knew Adobe design programs pretty well, until I had to do 10 website layouts in Photoshop in 2 days. 

When I think about my future life, there aren't a ton of things that I know I will want to do or have or be (except being with Greg, of course). But I hope that I will always have a sense of curiosity and desire to attempt something different than what is familiar to me. That seems like the best life- the one that keeps evolving and picking up new little tidbits as you go (like a little snowball becoming a big snowman and picking up as much as possible). 

There's always more to learn, and more ways to grow. Which can sometimes seem a little daunting, but I think it's good concept to embrace. Learn something new! 
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