Can you give me a little background on how you got into development?

I went to college at Michigan State. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but I was pretty good at science, and I seemed to enjoy it. I got a Medical Technology degree, which is like working in labs and stuff.

I did that for 8 years and I hated it. I was doing the same thing every day. The process was pretty standardized and I noticed that it was beginning to be automated. At one point, I left for a short maternity leave, and when I returned I had been replaced by a robot also named Regina…

At that point I was worried about the future and wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. My husband does software development and so he encouraged me to get into it. I started small and actually found that I liked it. It was difficult, but the good kind of difficult that makes you feel like you’re accomplishing things. After that I went all in.

I worked on a second bachelors degree in CS, online through Oregon State, learning mostly C and C++. I just finished in March and have been doing a lot of freelance work. I started doing client work using Wordpress because it was easy, but I’ve decided to move into iOS development because the people pay a lot more and are a lot nicer as well.

What type of robot are they using now in the industry (how could I find a picture of it)

The robot is a BioView FISH machine, Allegro Plus:

How long have you been doing development?

I’ve been programming for just over three years now, but I got serious about it about two years ago. I’ve only been doing Elixir since April. Before Elixir I did Ruby on Rails projects at school, and have been recently getting into Swift for iOS development.

What is your favorite thing about development and why?

I like development because I feel like a sorceress when I’m able to get a machine to do something with a few lines of code.  I felt that way the first time I tried running Python in a terminal three years ago, and I still feel that way when I am able to get something to work on a website or on my phone.

What do you like LEAST about development?

How frustrating it can be!

I have to try to practice kindness to myself at times because it is so easy to get frustrated over broken tests, missed syntax, typos, or just silly mistakes. It turns out that everybody, even seasoned pros, get frustrated and make the same mistakes that I make.

What are some of your favorite tools?

I really like Intelli-J code editors. My husband told me about them (including the free community edition) and he also builds and maintains the Elixir plugin for Intelli-J.

Many of my classes were based on C and C++, so I used Xcode for them which worked out really well. I also learned my way around Vim by playing Vim Adventures.

What excites you most about what you do in particular?

Learning new things all the time. I was in a science field before, so learning new things wasn’t uncommon at all, but the pace of innovation and trends in the tech industry are blazing fast, so you have to learn all the time in order to keep up.

I was really intimidated by git and Github for a long time but over the last couple of years I’ve become a lot more comfortable with them. I think I was scared that I was going to delete everything and lose all of my code. It wasn’t until I was in a group project were people were emailing code files with different versions of the code that I really saw the importance of git!

I now see the error in my ways and have embraced version control for both freelance projects as well as for personal projects.

How did you come to be a speak at ExlirConf 2017?

It’s kind of a funny story. My husband woke me up 3 hours before the submission deadline and told me I should submit something. I didn’t really think that I would get selected so I didn’t put a lot of thought into my bio and presentation description (something I’m beginning to regret).

I’ve been able to practice parts of my presentation at a few meet-ups so I’m feeling more comfortable, but it’s still something I’m both excited about and dreading at the same time.

What advice do you have for any advice?

Trying your best to be kind to yourself. I came from a science background which is very academic. I’m still really hard on myself when I make a mistake. I’ve had to learn to let go and that it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world. I try to be as gentle and kind to myself, and others, as I can.