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Python on the Farm: Python Developer Interview with Joy

In today’s Python developer interview, you’ll meet Joy.

A mom, wife and Pythonista, she shares her Python developer journey.

You’ll also meet some of her furry 🐕 (and not-so-furry 🐸) friends.

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1. Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

Hello! My name is Joy and I’m currently a stay at home wife and mom to four girls. Although two of those girls are grown (one married) and on their own, the other two are still at home (one in college, the other in high school).

When I’m not being a human taxi cab for my youngest, I’m either continuing my computer education or taking care of our animals.

Joy’s array of cats

2. Your blog bio states that you live on a farm in Michigan. How did that play a role in your coding journey?

Well, as of Nov. ‘21, we sold our farm to cash out the equity and temporarily moved to a very inexpensive mobile home park in the next town over with the goal of eventually upgrading to more land if/when the market goes down (maybe someday we’ll have another farm?).

We went from a large five-bedroom farmhouse to a single-wide two-bedroom trailer and boy, let me tell you – it was an extreme exercise in purging so many things! In any event, this is a good reminder to change my blog, since we don’t have a farm anymore…

🐎 “However, I don’t know if having a small horse farm sandwiched between a goat farm and a cattle farm played any big role in my journey, per se – but, it did help break up the monotony.” 🐄

Farm animals take a lot of care, so it was helpful in preventing me from having a stiff back and crossed eyes from being on the computer for hours on end since I would have to get up every few hours or so to do something that they would need.

It was a really nice thing to sit at my computer and be able to hear cows mooing in the background or look out the window every so often to watch my horses graze. I miss that very much.

3. What do you love about Python?

In all honesty, I really don’t know! I realize how that sounds, but I don’t know any other language to compare it to in order for me to say, “these are the things I love about it, compared to what I don’t like about… say… JavaScript.”

🧠 “What I do love is solving problems. I love math. I love science. I love logic.”

I think (and this could be kinda nuts) Python is just a means to an end, so to speak. It’s using a language to:

✅ express various mathematical principles/problems

✅ grammatical expressions

✅ statistical analysis

✅ creating, manipulating and extracting various sets of data

… Etc.

I don’t know if I could accurately say Python is the easiest or the hardest or the most versatile since I don’t have anything to compare it to.

It’s just the language I chose to learn based on the fact that it’s widely used in the areas of data science or data analysis.

Am I glad that I chose it?

Yes, very much.

It’s grown on me for sure.

I’m comfortable with it at this point and comfort is good, you know?

As I branch out into other areas of learning where different languages are concerned, I think I appreciate it more and more and more. Someday, *when* (not if) I am better versed in another language, promise me you’ll ask this question again 😉

4. What are your favorite resources to learn Python?

In the beginning, I surveyed quite a few learning platforms and Codecademy ended up being the one that best fit my learning style.

Length of a list instructions and code editor in Learn Python 3 course from Codecademy Pro
Learning environment in Codecademy’s course Learn Python 3

So, for each lesson or subject that they taught, I would then go off on my own and try to find practice sites or tutorials on YouTube to help cement those lessons.

🏃‍♀️ “Being able to exercise what I learn is very important.”

So in the beginning, I used Edabit A LOT (until they started charging to use the site).

PyNative then became a good place to exercise my skills, but it only went so far…

Next up was CodeWars (love CodeWars!) and then I started doing courses on freeCodeCamp, but I wasn’t so much interested in learning as I was in getting the certificates.

And, to get the certificates you have to complete approximately five challenges at the end of the course and I got totally hooked on completing those challenges.

Those were extreme exercises and I loved (mostly) every minute of solving them! I’ve also gotten addicted to the Mimo app and use that just about every day on my phone when I’m not able to be on my computer.

There’s probably more places I’ve used, but those are the ones that come to mind right now.

Another one of Joy’s coding helpers

5. How has the pandemic affected your dedication to programming?

When that hit, with the uncertainty of it all, it really had to take a back seat because of my kids.

With their own education on shaky ground, I didn’t have the time or mental resources to further mine, so I really had to put it on the back burner for a bit.

My YouTube videos got put on hold by the end of February as I had to make sure my kids and animals were taken care of, so yeah, it did affect it in a way that I just had to put it on hold until September of last year.

6. Tell us about your YouTube channel. What inspired you to start it?

As I was growing in my ability to solve lessons, projects, challenges, and interview questions, there were times that I couldn’t find answers to various aspects of it all… or if there were answers to those things, they weren’t explained in a clear way (at least to me).

Starting that channel was really a two-fold adventure, cementing those principles within myself to the point where I could teach them to others and explain it in a way that I wished had been explained to me. Does that make sense?

Actually, maybe it’s a three-fold adventure – I also love creating videos!

As an aside, I have a very small, teeny-tiny side hustle: selling my commercial photography with mostly images and a couple videos on about 3-4 sites online.

💸 “… I love the passive income and I love to create.”

It’s extremely enjoyable to set loose into the world an abstract idea that you made tangible where anyone can use that image to then explain their own story.

Making videos I guess, is along that vein – creating something unique to you that helps others… only with coding, the video is being made because I’ve been in the viewer’s place and being stumped for hours (or days) is no fun at all.

7. What are some common roadblocks you’ve encountered when tutoring Python students?

In the beginning, when I passed the testing process to become a tutor, I was really excited because it felt like it was such a big accomplishment at that stage.

However, on the platform I was on at the time, it was set up in a way to where I came to realize that it wouldn’t be very advantageous to me (I believe at this point in time, they have changed how the payment system works between tutor/student).

I could be wrong since my memory is a little fuzzy, but overall, I quickly learned that it wouldn’t be a good fit and then the pandemic hit and everything got put on hold.

To be transparent, and this is something I still struggle with, I didn’t and still don’t have a really good support network or mentor to bounce ideas or solutions off of.

I think to be a good ‘instructor’ or tutor if you will, apart from knowledge, is to be:

1️⃣ a really good researcher that not only knows where to find educational resources at higher levels, but knows “how” to find it by being able to ask the right questions (I think this is an important skill all in its own right), and

2️⃣ their own mentor or group of colleagues that are available in times of need.

I mean, I liken it to having horses – I’ve been in the horse world for twenty years and at the time I rehomed them just a couple months ago, I was STILL learning about horsemanship.

It’s just one of those things you won’t ever get to the bottom of no matter what anyone tells you.

🧑‍🏫 “There is truly always something to learn.”

I feel that way about computers… I didn’t invent horses, or computers so there is still just so much to learn and I say that without a shred of apathy or disdain. It’s a true joy to gain knowledge!

And, as a semi-autodidactic person, I don’t think I’ll ever stop. At least I HOPE not! lol!

8. What’s on your Python agenda for the upcoming months/year?

Certification gains, y’all! I’m lookin’ to get my swole on… noggin-wise, haha! 🧠

Now that I don’t have the farm, and life for us and my kids have returned to a somewhat more ‘normal’, I have more time on my hands to further my education.

I forgot to mention that not only did things get put on hold with the pandemic, but my oldest daughter got married and then we had a major move with the farm, so when I say everything got put on hold, it really got put on hold.

But for the past few months of getting back on the bicycle, I am reminded once again on why I love coding…

🏆 “I love the high of seeing a program run that I wrote.”

Especially when it’s difficult and my hands are sore and my brain is bleeding out my ears, and then wham! I finally put the right piece or formula into place and it runs or passes the test.

It’s a glorious feeling. Such sweet tasting fruit from my strenuous labor. 

But to better answer the question, my first long-term goal is to find a remote, yet local part-time job using the skills that I have (I’m planning to actively search in the next six months) and the second is to find that mentor or close-knit support system that I talked about earlier. Oh! And another is to try to make more videos as time allows 😉

9. Is there anything else you’d like to add in this Python developer interview?

For sure 🙂 I’d like to express my profound appreciation to you all for taking the time to hear me out.

And, if I can say anything at all that could possibly help someone else who is learning or even has a solid job, is to take the time to find out how you learn best (you may not want to but it’s a worthy endeavor).

🧽 “It’s very important to know how you absorb information.”

For example, for me, it’s talking out loud when I’m reading instructions or a lesson. It forces me to focus and it’s a very quick built-in alarm system for when I’m not focused – I know it immediately, so I stop and reorient.

I think many people would be surprised at how much they gloss over information when reading off a screen. I think we often take it for granted, much to our disadvantage.

Speed comes with time, but when it’s new, I think it’s important to slow down. Also, if you don’t have some, invest in 3-4 really good high-end actual books of your chosen language.

(Editor’s note: We happen to have a list of great web developer books for beginners!)

I didn’t really believe in this until I actually bought one, sat down and fingered the actual pages. And it was like, wooooooow – who knew there was so much information all in one place, lol! Who even holds books anymore? 😀 

When I did this, a whole new world opened up. And if I know I’m going to have some time sitting around in my car or in the evening when the computer is off, I make it a point to dip into the book at least once a week. I honestly can’t stress enough how helpful it is.

Never stop reading books, folks!

Welp, that’s about it. I’ll leave off with ‘slow down and read books’ (sounds sage enough, lol) …maybe someday I’ll even put that on my tombstone, hehe!

Thank you again. Happy coding to you all!

Python Developer Interview: Wrap-up

Thanks Joy for sharing your Python coding journey!

We hope you all enjoyed this Python developer interview.

If you want to follow along with her coding adventures, be sure to check out her blog and YouTube channel.

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