Sia Marie Xiong reveals her favorite coding resources and how she balances a new baby with learning how to code.
What inspired you to learn how to code?
For years, I had been researching various different careers that appealed to me. I had considered everything from cosmetology to the legal field. One day while browsing Instagram, I came across an ad for a local bootcamp. After doing my research about the ever-growing tech industry, I knew that this was it. I was especially attracted to programming because of the use of left-brained thinking it requires. I knew that whichever direction I took, it had to be work that was challenging. I love that programming requires one to always be learning, to which I am committed. A skill such as programming is invaluable, especially as we move forward into a technologically advanced future.
What tools are you using to learn how to code?
I especially like FreeCodeCamp and CodeAcademy. Free resources like these are invaluable. I also use YouTube tutorials when I get stuck, since I’m more of an auditory learner and learn best when listening to someone speak. For the pre-work of my bootcamp, I am using Pluralsight and Codeschool. I’ve also enrolled and begun dabbling with introductory programming MOOCs (massive open online courses), which are such an amazing resource. Lastly, I’ve found that programming books are a really great way to learn, too. Before trying them, I couldn’t imagine how reading a book about programming languages could help someone learn, but it works!
What job or career did you have prior to learning how to code?
I had a growing career in office administration, but after giving birth to my son in May, I decided I wanted to go into a more fulfilling direction. While exploring my options, I became a server at a sushi restaurant, which was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
Are you learning for fun, or do you have hopes of breaking into the tech world?
I am absolutely determined to break into tech, and I am having a lot of fun doing it. I’m so glad that I took my time with choosing my new career path because I have never felt so good about anything as I do about becoming a developer.
What are ways you stay current? Do you have any favorite websites or podcasts?
Twitter! Twitter is my all-time favorite social media platform, and it has allowed me to come across so many tech-related accounts that do a really great job of sharing information. I follow a bunch of top programmers and blogs, which I always look to for the most current trends and information. I would highly recommend using Twitter. You don’t even need to have a strong presence - just follow everyone that interests you and soak up all the good stuff. My favorite accounts and organizations are those geared toward women in tech.
What advice do you have for other moms who are interested in learning how to code?
My best advice - all you need is one hour a day! Really - if you can set aside just an hour a day, when the baby is asleep or when the kids are watching TV, that is sufficient enough time to learn how to code!
How do you balance motherhood, a job, and learning to code?
When I first began learning to code, my son was only a couple of months old, so I had to take breaks from my computer every 10 minutes or so in order to tend to his needs. It can be frustrating, but don’t let it discourage you. Just start back right where you left off! Being a mother, we have to make all kinds of sacrifices. If it takes you a little bit longer than others, that’s okay! My son is always priority number one.