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Showing posts from April, 2023

If it matters 100 yrs from now... it was important.

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  I'm a sucker for a hidden message. The mysterious letter that shows up, a digital easter egg tucked away, geo-caching, a cryptic riddle... 6 years ago, we were changing out the original mirror in our bathroom and, prying it off the wall, found this message: If it matters 100 years from now ... it was important. Weirdly, I'm finding myself giving similar advice to others as I review their resumes. I'll read through their professional experience - either a paragraph or bulleted list of tasks they performed - and I'll hit them back with: Why did it matter? If it matters enough to include on your resume, it was important. State why. This is what it means to focus on your impact . e.g. I would reviewed customer support cases each month, and was also responsible for keeping our technical documentation up to date. Why does this matter? What makes it important? There's a hidden feedback loop in there that's not being called out, and the impact is lost. Typically, we r

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Persistence

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Dear Old Me, Remember how you struggled with Bit Blitting, so you made that Calvin & Hobbes fighting game using transparent icons? That was a cool but hacky way to solve that problem. Are you still stubbornly persistent? I really hope coding gets easier, because it's hard to learn how to get better. ~Alishah  -- Dear Young Me, You'll soon marvel at how much easier things gets. Learning Bit Blit through random blogs wasn't easy. Now there are now better websites like StackOverflow and Wikipedia that do much better at explaining concepts - but technology is also much more powerful and faster, so you don't have to do as much from scratch . Oh - and there's also something called ChatGPT now - it's AI that can write code based on your prompts - but that's probably a discussion for another day (honestly, we're still not sure of all the implications of something that powerful!) You don't know it yet, but the thing that made you good is exactly what I

Always Be ... Growing?

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ALWAYS. BE. GROWING? No. I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day about how LinkedIn/Corporate culture creates this pressure to use every waking minute to "invest in yourself" and to "grow grow grow". That if you don't have a side hustle, or if you're not able to monetize or leverage what you're doing to help in your career, that you're wasting time. After that conversation, I went outside and for about 45 minutes threw these foam boomerangs with my kids. My step counter gave me no credit, because (as you can see) my feet never had to move. And there was a moment when I just paused and thought: This is fun. I'm enjoying this. It reminded me of being a kid - when you would play well past sunset, as the air got colder and crisper, but you were just enjoying the simple activity you were doing. Afterwards, I felt great - and, the truth is, while you don't need to always be growing, moments like these can wind up doing more for

1997 Holiday Crafts Fair

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Found an old photo from 1997 when I appeared in the local paper (up front, holding the CD). Sadly, what the article fails to mention is that my group was selling holiday-themed computer games that I had coded in VB4.  Admittedly, they didn't sell as much as the Mistle-Toads  (which definitely had better branding.) 🧑‍💻

Work Experience vs Professional Experience

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In reviewing a bunch of resumes this week, I noticed quite a lot of resumes with a  "Work Experience"  section. In each of those resumes, people had de-valuing some very valuable  experience - and I write that with no exaggeration. The problem is people were looking at their experience purely through the "Job Title/Relevancy" lens and had reduced their experience down to a list of discrete, random, disconnected jobs. No interconnectedness, no narrative thread weaving through it all. As much as you may feel some jobs have no way of being connected, the reality is  you   are always the connection . To not connect them on your resume is to lose all that growth, knowledge, skills, impact, value, and trajectory. In other words - you lose the " You " in the resume. I recommended they start with a small change. Reword "Work Experience" to "Professional Experience" because, ultimately, every single job they had was in service of building their

UX and Birth Years

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The older I get the worse the UX becomes when selecting my birth year. There was a time when the top of the selection list was really close to my birthyear. Now, there's just so much scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Creativity

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Dear Old Me, Hi! I hope you're well! Now that you are an adult, do you still have fun coding and creating things like games and movies and stories? It's tough for me right now, because I don't always have the right programs and sometimes they're really expensive. Either way, I hope you found a way to keep being creative and never turned into a serious adult. ~Alishah P.S. Did you ever get your own domain name? Is it a Dot Com?? -- Dear Young Me,   Most people will tell you that, as an adult, it's hard to find the time to be creative. They'll tell you that you have to "make the time" - but you can't schedule inspiration. Being creative is like exercising. As you get older, it's less a part of your regular day. Just like I don't have Recess or Gym class, I don't have Art class. But you know, just as well as I, you didn't need either of those to be active. Remember how you'd run up/down the stairs, jump off the sofa, dance around i

Maps

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Maps are a great metaphor for ... well, no spoilers.  I remember one of my college professors paraphrasing a quote that I think was also misattributed. He said ( and I, myself, must paraphrase... ) "The most accurate map would be one that you could unfold, step inside, and walk along the map to where you want to go. All the trees, all the bugs, are exactly where they are. When you get to your destination you step outside the map and fold it back up, and you're where you want to be." My professor said the quote originally came from Alexandre Dumas; But given I have to Google a paraphrasing of a paraphrasing, it's been hard to find the original quote. Closest I've seen is comedian Steven Write's joke:  “I have a map of the United States... Actual size. It says, 'Scale: 1 mile = 1 mile.' I spent last summer folding it. I hardly ever unroll it. People ask me where I live, and I say, 'E6.”

Unexpected Benefits

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Drinking more water lately has lead me to think more about virtuous cycles and the unintended and unexpected benefits that come with doing something good.  My FitBit has always nagged at me to get in more steps and I've gotten pretty good at ignoring it... And then, I noticed I wasn't getting the notifications anymore. I figured I'd won the battle, and FitBit gave up on me... Until I checked my stats, and I was hitting my step goal every hour. And then I realized, by drinking more water, I was having (obviously) having to use the restroom more, which meant getting up from my desk and walking more. When Jr Developers ask me for how they can grow in their career, reading is always at the top of my list of suggestions. It's an obvious one, but so few ever follow through. Whether it's a book on business (organizational structures, producitivity frameworks, customer/product management approaches), books on science/mathematics, or - at the very least - books on technology

Portfolio Red Flags

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I know a portfolio is an opportunity to experiment, have fun, and implement all kind of nifty doo-dads. Avoid this temptation. When you think of your portfolio as a product, those little distractions are scope-creep. If you want to highlight how you like to play around and challenge yourself then, rather than make those snippets a "core feature" of your website, give them a dedicated a section on your Portfolio. Label the section "Experiments", showcase them there along with a writeup of what you learned. Alternatively, host them on CodePen, and direct traffic there. If you have a lot of gimmicky effects as part of your main portfolio, that can be a 🚩 red flag 🚩 (Especially if you also have very few projects on your GitHub!) It gives the impression you get distracted easily, focus on novelty not value, and will cause scope to balloon out of control.

Never Giving Up

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I make a lot of content about job hunting / resume advice. Often it's with my 8 year old daughter's Legos. This past weekend she was watching me closely and asked what I was doing. I told her how I like to take the things I know about and make things for others who may find it helpful. She paused - then asked if she made her own story, if I could share it. So here it is. A short story about confidence and never giving up by an amazing girl who is persistent, confident and never, ever, ever gives up. Hope it gives you a bright start to your week. 🌤

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