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Lifelong Learning in Web Development with Mandy Hartman

Mandy Hartman, a front-end developer at Jenzabar, discusses the importance of lifelong learning in web development and shares her personal experiences and insights on continuous skill refinement and knowledge-sharing.

Mandy Hartman, a front-end developer at Jenzabar, shares her insights on the importance of continuous learning in web development, drawing on her own transition from academia to tech. She discusses her hands-on learning experiences, including participation in the "#100DaysOfCode" challenge and creating personal projects for skill demonstration in job interviews. Hartman's readiness to utilize online communities for support, her application development inspired by her time in museums and archives all underscore her dedication to constant skill refinement and knowledge-sharing. Her story is a testament to the benefits of lifelong learning for both aspiring developers and those shifting careers.

Come to Epic Web Conf.

NOTE: Due to personal conflicts, Mandy will not be able to attend Epic Web Conf after all. Maybe next year!

Guests

Mandy Hartman
Mandy Hartman

Transcript

Kent: Hello everybody, Mandy, I'm so excited for you to speak at Epic WebConf. Could you introduce yourself to our audience?

Mandy: Sure, I'm Amanda Hartman, I go by Mandy, kind of Hart Mandy on the internet. And right now I'm a software developer at Jenzabar, they do like higher education softwares.

Kent: Cool, cool. So what are you doing specifically for them?

Mandy: I work on a team that works with this chat bot product. So there's some like large language model stuff, some AI. And then we do this whole like dashboard for schools to work from, to like interact with their chat bot. So there's a couple of different things revolving around the chat bot that I do.

Kent: Very interesting. So is this chatbot thing relatively new, like with the new insurgence of all the LLMs, or has it been going on for a while and just sort of adopted that?

Mandy: I'm not sure when they made it. I know the team's been together for probably five years. So they've been tinkering with it for a while. They've built a version and I think they just have to keep up with AI. So

Kent: Mmm.

Mandy: they just keep adding more stuff to it and incorporating more.

Kent: Interesting. Now, what's your role on that? Are you working directly with the AI endpoints, or are you doing more of the look and feel of the chat, or where are you working at?

Mandy: I'm definitely more front end. Um, most of their team was all backend. I don't know that they had a front end person before, so I do most of the front end work. Um, but to get the job when I was interviewing for places, I just built an education dashboard for fun. I was like, this is

Kent: Hmm?

Mandy: the kind of products that they're making. I'll make one, see what comes of it. And I made a little AI chat bot with my dashboard just to get familiar with it. See what it was like. And I just showed it to them at the interview. So like they know what I've dabbled in and what I haven't. And as I work more, I'm like getting more with AI stuff, but so far mostly just front end development.

Kent: Wow, now that is cool. That's like a takeaway for people watching

Mandy: I'm sorry.

Kent: right now. Go and build the product that you wanna go work on and show it to them in the interview.

Mandy: That's one way to do it.

Kent: That actually, so I had a little bit of a similar experience in school where we were expected to do like a design or a proof of concept of just like screenshots, wireframes and stuff. And I ended

Mandy: Mm. Mm-hmm.

Kent: up building it instead. and having a video demo. And yeah, we definitely won. And I actually

Mandy: Yeah.

Kent: did get a job offer out of that as well. So go on the extra

Mandy: Yeah.

Kent: mile. Sometimes it pays off really well.

Mandy: Yeah, yeah, that was actually a tip that someone else told me. They're like, if you really want this job and this is the kind of software you're interested in, like higher education was something that was interesting to me. They're like, just make it, show them that you know how to make it. Then they,

Kent: That is

Mandy: you know,

Kent: super

Mandy: then you can

Kent: cool.

Mandy: just talk about that during the interview.

Kent: Very cool. How long ago was that? Was that pretty recently?

Mandy: I actually just got that job last year. I'm very new to development, hence why I'm learning every day. I still have a lot to learn. So I got that job last year. I'm fresh to that team.

Kent: Well, cool. Well, I hope that you, it seems like you really enjoy learning a lot every day. I've found in my, about a decade in this industry, that never stops.

Mandy: Mm-hmm.

Kent: We're

Mandy: Yeah.

Kent: always learning every day, which is one of the reasons why I reached out to you to ask you to speak, because I see that you are extremely consistent in your daily learning. And like you've just started. instead of 100 days of coding, now you're doing 365 because you've done the 100 days

Mandy: Why

Kent: twice.

Mandy: not? Yeah, why not?

Kent: And so I just think that is super cool, that level of consistency. And I think that will be useful to attendees, whether they're new in the industry or they've been around for a while. Can you tell us like a little bit about what your talk is going to be about, what you're planning on sharing with us?

Mandy: Sure. Well, though I'm new to development, I've actually been a student forever. I was in grad school for a long time. I have two master's degrees. I started a PhD. So I learned, like, for a living. Yeah.

Kent: Whoa, what were those masters in the PhD

Mandy: So

Kent: topics?

Mandy: actually, I have a previous career working with museums and archives. So the first software thing I did was making an archive app. That's like how I transitioned in to the tech field. So the degrees are in that. I was working with like museum collections and education and things like that.

Kent: Very cool.

Mandy: So when I wanted to learn development and I was getting into that, I just made it a part of my day-to-day routine. Like I wake up, I spend however long I'm able to, 20 minutes, an hour. on the weekends a few hours if I can, to just soak in as much as I could. So that's definitely part of it, being consistent every day was very helpful. And then finding people that I could engage with, like Twitter's been really fun. The 100 AIDS of Code people are learning right along with you, so having community like that and being able to engage with people while they're learning definitely helps, I think, in your own learning.

Kent: Yeah, I have noticed that you get really good levels of engagement on those posts of 100 days of code, because that community is just very supportive of one another. It's pretty cool

Mandy: Oh

Kent: to

Mandy: yeah.

Kent: see that.

Mandy: Yeah. Absolutely.

Kent: So, when I asked you to speak, have you ever spoken, or is that right? Spoken at a conference

Mandy: Thank

Kent: before

Mandy: you.

Kent: or at a meetup? Do you have any experience speaking before?

Mandy: Yes, working with museums, there's often like very small niche topic type conferences. So I've spoken at a few like craft history was something I was working with before. I've spoken about that a few times, some academic conferences as I was going through school. And then I did show my archive site at a conference. So I got to like unveil that which was very fun.

Kent: Very

Mandy: Different

Kent: cool,

Mandy: crowd,

Kent: yeah.

Mandy: different questions that was being asked. It was really fun.

Kent: Awesome, yeah, I kind of assumed that there would be something like that in your history with all of that. And

Mandy: Yeah.

Kent: when I invited you kind of out of the blue, you took it in stride, you didn't sound like you were too nervous about anything, so that's awesome. I'm glad, glad of that. I'm super excited to have you speaking at the conference and I think that it's gonna be a lot of fun to have you there. I think that people... need to know how to become lifelong learners if they're gonna be

Mandy: Yeah.

Kent: in this industry, just because it changes so quickly and so much about this industry is just learning. That's a big part of it. So I'm excited for you to share some of your personal experience in that lifelong learning that you've been doing.

Mandy: Absolutely. Excited to share.

Kent: Awesome. Well, thank you, Manny. Let me just, one last question around this. When we're at the conference, what would you like to talk with people about, like in the hallway track, during breaks and stuff?

Mandy: I'm sorry.

Kent: What are the sorts of things that you're interested in talking about?

Mandy: Um, I've really enjoyed talking to people that came from another career and like, they were invested in this other career. Like I came from museums has nothing to do with this and like what, what switched for them or like what got them excited about tech to make them want to get into development. I love hearing stories about that. Um, or seeing what's inspired them to get into that.

Kent: Cool, good, good. I have met a lot of second career devs in my

Mandy: Yeah.

Kent: time, so I think we'll probably have plenty of people at

Mandy: Okay.

Kent: Epic WebConf for you to chat with about that stuff. And I'll definitely be interested to talk with you about the stuff that you've done prior to this industry as well. So

Mandy: Sure.

Kent: thank you so much, Mandy, and yeah, we hope to see everybody on April 11th at. Park City for Epic WebConf. Bye!

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