Yesterday, I had my first day as web developer at WNET, New York’s PBS affiliate. The interview process took about three weeks, and started several weeks after I submitted my application. I had passed it off as a long shot, such a big company with that big title I’d been hoping to achieve: “web developer.” After applying to new positions for what seemed like forever (though, in reality, it had only been a couple of months), I was ready to give up on that dream. I was ready to go back to searching for community manager positions and digital marketing. I knew I was good at it, and I knew that my resume could really show those skills off, despite hoping to break out.
I finally got the call for a web developer position. After a phone screen with HR, I quickly met with Brian, director of technology, for an in-person interview. We went through the typical interview questions and a bit of minor code testing. The question I hadn’t exactly prepared for, though should have been completely expected, came up last: “What sets you apart from the other candidates?” As I answered, I realized how much it impacted all of my decisions. I realized that I couldn’t stop pursuing web development, and that I would do whatever it took to get this position.
What was that answer? What made me different from all of the other candidates?
At my core, I am a professional writer. I think about my work through an editorial lens, needing a strong backbone and support structure to hold up the work. I am consciously commenting all of my code to make it easier to read and to understand.
Being a writer gives me a strength beyond my technical skills. Yes, I need to be able to actually build. Yes, I’m tested to show that I can put the pieces together in a way that makes sense and functions. Beyond that, however, I can actually articulate what I’m doing. I can explain how the pieces work in a way that makes sense to those who haven’t ever touched the console or the backend of a CMS.
If you had asked me four years ago if this would be what I would do for my career, I think I would have laughed at you. No freaking way. Bold tags do not equal developer. And now, I couldn’t be prouder of myself. I have moved beyond my expectations of myself and to something so much better. My brain is constantly being challenged, and I’m pushing myself to learn more. I’m officially a woman in tech.
This also doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing. I just write in a new way, in a different way. Spelling mistakes matter more now than ever before and structure is imperative.
I look forward to the upcoming weeks and months as I expand beyond my very specialized knowledge and become a full fledged front-end engineer.