8 Bits: Where Are They Now?

8 Bits: Where Are They Now?
Return guests Pj (high school teacher turned develeoper) and LaRena (professional clown turned developer) stop by the show with some job/life updates now that they're working in the field!

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8 Bits Where Are They Now: PJ + LeRena - 8 Bits
Learn More: https://8bits.tv/8-bits-where-are-they-now/

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Chloe Condon  1:59
Hello Hello, Hello everyone. Welcome to eight bit you may notice it's a little different than usual here. It's just myself. I'm not here with my co host Brandon Minnick today. He is out this week. However, we have two amazing, amazing guests for you. And I cannot wait. These are two oldies, but goodies, some favorite guests that we've had on the show who are going to be giving us updates on their career and where they're at and what's been going on in their lives. But before we do that, I did want to share with you all its build time y'all build is upon us. If you've never attended Microsoft build, congratulations, you can do it from the privacy and safety of your own living room, or wherever, maybe even from your couch if you want. So build is our yearly event here at Microsoft, where we do all sorts of amazing sessions and trainings and announcements. I'm really, really excited for the student zone, which is what I have linked down here. I'm really excited to be not only talking to some really cool and smart and amazing students, but also been building some really cool stuff with Microsoft neat code. But about the students want to build, I want to bring in our two guests for today. Today, we have two previous guests on the show. We have PJ Matt and Larry. Hi, friends, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy work days to come on the show. Now, if folks have never tuned into the show before or aren't familiar with the show, eight bits. This is a show where myself and Brandon Minnick, my usual co host talk to people and interesting stories behind tech, their origin stories, how they got into tech, and usually the guests that we have. They're already working in tech. But we met our two guests here, PJ and larina, when they were first starting their journeys into technology, and I think that their stories are so cool, and their paths are so interesting to share. So before we get into all the awesome q&a, we're gonna have questions. Oh my gosh, I can't wait to hear everything about your first days as developers. Shall we start with your origin stories? We can kind of reflect on your previous episodes here. Who wants to go first? We got a lot of ground to cover.

Pj Metz  4:24
Okay, okay.

Chloe Condon  4:27
First roshambo this is riveting. All right. Okay, so far. All right. Hello, I'm

Larena Iocco  4:39
Larena. I am a former circus clown turned software engineer. So I was a theater major in college. I went to clown school, it is a real thing. And then I ran away and joined the circus for eight years, which was really awesome. I got to travel all over the United States. I had tour In a tiny bit in Mexico, and then I toured for two years in Japan, which was really cool. And then I moved to New York and was trying to figure out what to do next with my life. And then a pandemic happens. And I learned how to be a software engineer. So here we are. I am now a fully employed engineer. I am a support engineer at datadog.

Chloe Condon  5:27
So, so exciting. And I should also mention, Marina, we met through the power and the beauty of musical theater. We of course met doing Jerry Springer, the opera here in San Francisco. I was fresh out of college at the time and Lorena and I had a great great time being could be an ensemble audience members and that. So it's so cool to now see you go full circle you I saw you get your dream job as a clown. And I've seen you get your dream job as an engineer. How does it we'll go into all the details and everything. How's it feeling? But how does it feel to be on that other side now? Oh,

Larena Iocco  6:04
it feels so good, y'all. So I, I went through a boot camp, and I know PJ is self taught, which to me is like even more amazing, because I started trying to fool around with stuff on my own and was like, No, I need like a structure, I need schedule. I need someone to tell me like what I need to learn and like how to make this happen. I was the same way. And we should mention larina and I attended the same coding boot camp. So I graduated at the end of September. And they say I think that the average time, I can't remember if they say average time to find employment is three months to six months, or if they say six to nine or if they see three to nine. Anyway, I graduated September 25. And I started my job last week on May 10. So um, I mean, it was about what's that 677 and a half months until I was fully gainfully employed. So there was a lot of imposter syndrome and there and there was a lot of am I ever gonna get a job, but I'm happy to say that I am employed again after I think I did the math and it was like 409 days of unemployment altogether. So not that you're counting. Not at all my counting at all.

Chloe Condon  7:25
Well, before we get into PJ and PJ's background, I think that's that's such a topic that I feel often came up when we would hold bootcamp office hours at the Microsoft reactor is a lot of times, people felt very alone in the fact that they were struggling and they really, you know, had to learn how to interview so the highs were very high and the lows were very low. Do either of you have any advice for people out there who are either graduated from their coding boot camp or learning to code like other than just sending them the the meme of the hanging their cat? What do you wish you could say to to Marina and PJ like, you know, six or nine months ago.

Larena Iocco  8:07
I mean, I would say really, really try to keep a schedule. That's something I struggled with. And some weeks were better than others. And some were, you know, some weeks, all I could do was sit on the couch and watch TV and maybe do one coding challenge. And some weeks I sent out 50 job applications, and most weeks were somewhere in between, but really try to keep a schedule even when you're down. Even you know, if you do one, you know level lowest level code thing on code wars, like do something like his it's really easy to let a bunch of days go by where you don't do anything. And then it feels even harder to pick it back up. So even if it is like a five minute coding challenge. That is like make an array like something so easy just to

Pj Metz  8:53
define an array.

Chloe Condon  8:55
Yes, like, as for your brain

Larena Iocco  8:57
jelly, just do something because the more days you go without doing something, the harder it is to pick back up.

Chloe Condon  9:05
Absolutely. PJ. Now, many people know you from the show. You've co hosted the show with the orange wig on before you've you're basically my understudy here on the show. Tell the lovely folks at home about your origin story,

Pj Metz  9:21
y'all. It's so weird being on the show being like I can be like I work I get lab and not just I'm looking for it because normally when I'm on the shows I'm like, yeah, I'm looking anyone who wants to contact me and say hi, like my DMS are open. I can close my DMS now I just realized I should do that. No one can contact me anywhere. My name is PJ. I was a high school teacher for 11 years. I never thought I'd be interested in coding. I never thought it was a thing that I'd be good at. I assumed it was for people who had the math brain and I don't have the math brain and the poetry brain. So I was on a zoom call with my friend Brandon Minnick, the co host of the show. show

Chloe Condon  10:01
a friend of the friend of the pod.

Pj Metz  10:04
He's just out doing whatever he wants right now, I guess didn't want to be here for this momentous occasion. That's fine. We're not mad about it. Um, but yeah, he mentioned that the type of job he does, which is Developer Relations and developer advocacy. He, like, I think you can do it because a lot of what I do is I teach people how to use our products. I was like, Yeah, but I don't know how to use the products. He said, Well, what have you learned? And he's maybe the first person in my life who was like, What if you tried to learn this new thing? And I was like, Well, if you think I can, I'll try it. And the very day that I said yes to Brandon was May 16 2020.

Chloe Condon  10:44
Oh, wow. And today is may 19.

Pj Metz  10:49
It is literally one year in three days, since I say yes to learning how to code. So he sent me a bunch of C sharp videos with Scott hanselman, talking about how to do C sharp, I signed up for code khadem e Pro, and started spending money on this and I told my wife, I was like, I'm gonna start spending money on this because I think I want to switch careers. And she was like, Okay, and then we had to have a talk about where the money was coming from and what I was gonna be like, and we had to sort of adjust our budget a little bit. Now code khadem II, compared to a boot camp is way cheaper, way cheaper, it was only $40 a month. Yeah. And I only did it for 11 months. So

Larena Iocco  11:25
yeah, I drained my savings to make hackbright happen. And the fact that they were doing a big tuition cut, because things all went virtual, right at the beginning of the pandemic, you know, they there are virtual boot camps, but they were not one of them, they were very big on the in person experience. And they recognize that you were losing something by not getting to be in person and they slashed tuition almost in half, it has since raised back up some as they've kind of figured out how to operate in the remote world. But you know, when I signed up, the tuition was almost cut in half. And it's still, you know, it drained my savings, it's not,

Chloe Condon  12:08
in the light of heart, a really good point to make, because for a lot of people being able to afford a coding boot camp is not accessible. It certainly was not for me. And I had to find some very creative, interesting ways. I sold my Polly pockets, I really did a lot of vintage toys and got some help from family. But it was it was not something at the time that I could afford. I was making a office manager salary in San Francisco, it was not sustainable with the cost of living. So and yes, we do see your comments in here. I do see a question in here that says is codeacademy worth it? And I think that's a great question. Like not all coding boot camps are created equal. I encourage everyone if whatever you're looking to learn, I think Microsoft learn is a great tool that's all free, that's very accessible, and anyone can do it. But if you're looking for a coding boot camp, those are things to consider. I always recommend look at outcome numbers. I know for Marina and me that was a big thing. Like we wanted to see, okay, are people actually getting employment after this boot camp? And what are their placement rates? And I think the more I'm all about data, the more data the better. So I would say do your research on curriculum? What language our day to day teaching? Is it going to be relevant to what you're going to be using in the real world? Find a mentor, for sure. Is there mentorship through the program? I know through our boot camp, there was but I think this is such an interesting, two different paths here because we have someone who needed the structure, and we had someone who was able to kind of give themselves the structure. So I applaud both of you. It's very difficult to make a career change.

Pj Metz  13:44
Yeah, I don't I don't agree with with Lorena, saying that mine was harder. It's just that we have different ways of approaching things. We both have to learn concepts and work on things. And Laurie, I feel like you came out knowing much more than I did. And you even helped teach me a little bit of Git and a little bit of working with some API's that I wasn't familiar with on a show.

Larena Iocco  14:05
But at the end of the day, we're both employed now. So

Pj Metz  14:09
we both got the job

Larena Iocco  14:10
and in an end in a similar timeline. Awesome. You know, so, yeah,

Chloe Condon  14:15
we should also mention that PJ, you started your job two weeks ago, and Luna started her job one week ago. So if y'all have any questions about the onboarding process, or their process to get a job, we've had them on the show before, and we'll definitely link to their previous episodes below after the show. But it's really cool to see your journey to this point. But PJ, did you say that you were working as a high school teacher? Did we miss that part? Yeah. A very key part of this is you're doing a lot of things.

Pj Metz  14:46
Oh, man. So at one point, I was I was a teacher and I was working at Chili's. I was at the same time and i was i was the percussion instructor for marching band at the high school I taught at so what it was was Like I said, 2019 was when I did chillies and work in marching band. So I'm always used to doing a lot extra. And as a high school teacher, you kind of get roped into that kind of stuff where you pick a club to help with or a sport or something. And I got so involved that I didn't have a lot of time. But also those came with like little tiny pay bumps. So I was like, well, I need this if I'm going to be able to afford to eat. So it was when I decided to do coding, it was a summer where I didn't have a job lined up because of COVID. And I said, why I've got all this time, let's do something productive. And then when the school year started, I was teaching AP Lang English for standard. I was checking the drum line. So that was three days a week I was with the drum line after

Chloe Condon  15:47
a lot of extracurriculars PJ, and that

Pj Metz  15:49
was to code. Every teacher, every teacher ends up like, the best advice I ever got, as a teacher was find a way to stick your claws in so that they keep you if they decide they have to get rid of people. So that's my first teaching job. I was the girls tennis coach.

Chloe Condon  16:06
Oh, my goodness, before you even had you know, coding was a twinkle in your eye. Let's Let's rewind to let's see, I also brought up the tweet, which I'll share on the screen right now that PJ because I think this is so sweet, and in a lovely tie in to the show. So here is the text thread with Brandon, our co host and you know saying hey, yeah, I think you should learn how to code. But BJ before it, let's see, what's the date on this may 16 2020. What was your like? And I have this question for you to Marina, what was your sort of worldview? What did you think a developer did? Did you see yourself in this space at all? Like what was programming to you? Because I always think this is an interesting conversation of like, what how did you get here? What was this in your brain before it took someone to say, hey, you can do this.

Pj Metz  17:00
I still I still don't think I can tell you that. I was like really struggling just yesterday to make my repository live. I was like, Yeah, like, I was like, oh, I'll try it, whatever. I don't know. So for me, I felt like when I looked at what developers did, it was as big Nevertheless, I don't know. But I knew that to get to that point. I had to start learning the simple stuff. First, I had to learn the language first. And like plexicushion saying, How long did it take to start understanding code more and start writing bigger programs. I still haven't written a big program. Honestly, Brandon and I worked together

Chloe Condon  17:38
on a website at big bots.

Pj Metz  17:40
I've built some bots that do amazing stuff, every single one of them is less than 100 lines of code. So when I if someone's like, what's a big program you worked on? I am like, it's been just me and Brandon. And we're not building anything crazy. I've never had to think about stages. I've never had to think about any of that stuff. I

Chloe Condon  17:58
mean, a junior developer, right? Like everybody starts somewhere. And I think that's a great question. You don't just suddenly wake up one day and go, Oh, I hate.

Pj Metz  18:07
But you do suddenly wake up. And a concept that never made sense suddenly clicks for you, I found our containers are for real today.

Chloe Condon  18:19
looking in a mirror? What was your worldview? Because I know you come from the performing arts world, like you knew how to use technology, of course, but what was your view of this whole tech scene?

Larena Iocco  18:34
It was honestly it was something I had not even thought that much about beyond like, the movie hackers from 1995. And yes, hack the planet. And like ones and zeros on a green and black screen, I literally was like, coding is like understanding binary and like typing a lot of ones and zeros. I was honestly, like, had no real concept. And but I knew that it was something that you did and that you transition successfully from also being a performing arts background and being you know, assumably that a more artistic brain type. And, you know, I had been I was working as an office manager, which I was not like excited about anyway, it just like, you know, paid my rent and like, you know, had enough spare money to line up for rush tickets here in New York. And then I got laid off from that at the beginning of him the pandemic and literally one morning I saw a Facebook, push ad or not push ad, like just a targeted ad that was like, learn to code and I was like, what's that? Oh, that's what Chloe does, isn't it? And so I like clicked on the link and like somebody called me and I realized that I did some research and realize that school was a joke, but I was like, but let me like look at other schools then. And just yeah, started doing some self led stuff really quickly. Realize that a school was going to be important for me to have structure in something that I knew nothing about. And, you know, I'm a college dropout like I never even finished college. It's been a really long time since I had really learned something new and been in front of a computer. So for me, I knew like that I needed that structure.

Chloe Condon  20:20
I think we should also mention though, even though you're a college dropout, you did live on a train I did. level in the circus. I think we really need to make sure people understand. Marina wasn't some birthday party clown going to your local state fair. No, she was Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey in the tent in the train real deal. Tell us about train life. Tell us about a little bit about what that looks like riding the rail, in your first week as a clown is very different than your first week as a developer.

Larena Iocco  20:59
Yes, yes. I mean, that's like so many years ago, like, rewind to 2010 when I got my first job as a professional clown. But yeah, I mean, that is another job where there's constant learning and a lot of hard work. So I'm no stranger to those things. Even if I, you know, didn't do well in a classroom setting and didn't graduate from college, I actually dropped out to go to clown college. So I did graduate from that. But I mean, I got a very exciting piece of paper, which you got from regular colleges to accept that piece of paper doesn't mean anything. And I got a rubber chicken keychain. Oh, in a bonus,

Chloe Condon  21:37

Larena Iocco  21:40
But you know, it's a job where I worked really hard. I worked six, seven days a week, sometimes I always had to learn new skills and new shows and, and, you know, so no stranger to hard work and learning new things. Just this was a very different format.

Pj Metz  21:58
But I think that's something I had to learn too, is where, like I did teaching and a lot of teaching, you learn more in the classroom than you do as a student. So you can come out with your, with a degree in whatever you can get your teaching certificate, and all that stuff. But those first three years in the classroom, it's all figuring out basically, what didn't work for you.

Chloe Condon  22:19
Yeah, nothing's gonna surely prepare you for a child losing their tooth in the classroom, or like having worked with kids, you learn so much in the field as you do as an engineer.

Pj Metz  22:29
There's so many kids, I had a kid my first year as a teacher who told me I will never open my book. And I was like, What do you mean, he's like, open my book. And so at the beginning of class, I would go open his book for him and open it to the page. And I was like, this is where we are today. It's open for you now. So you're,

Chloe Condon  22:47
oh my gosh, I mean, that's where you put on your resume can deal with a variety of personalities. Now.

Pj Metz  22:55
We got some questions in the chat. Yeah.

Chloe Condon  22:57
Yeah, I was noticing your PJ. I think this one is good for you since you keep yourself motivated. So the question here is from Newman, kazi, how do you stay motivated while coding slash learning new programming languages.

Pj Metz  23:14
So it's kind of neat, I found that earlier, flex occation had asked about languages, and I started with C sharp, and then I moved to JavaScript and HTML and CSS. And then with Chloe, I moved into node. j. s, which is a framework that lets you actually build apps with JavaScript. So once I learned C sharp, I said, Well, what else do I need to know and learning new languages, all of it related back to C sharp for me. So you learn one, and it becomes easier to learn a bunch. So learning a new programming language, really, the first one is the biggest leap you're going to have to make. After that, it becomes a lot easier and easier afterwards.

Larena Iocco  23:55
Yeah, the logic of how you navigate that language stays the same no matter how many languages you know, it's just the syntax of how to make that logic happen.

Chloe Condon  24:06
I know when I went to hackbright, Python and JavaScript were what we were learning. You know, when I was looking around at different boot camps at the time, they were very heavily leaning into Ruby. And I want to say a lot of react happening. So I would say that's another thing to think about when you're thinking about what you're gonna do I honestly, I started learning iPhone development, I don't even have an iPhone. You can always change. It's just just like Lena said, the basic syntax of everything going on here.

Pj Metz  24:39
And the motivation is the biggest motivating factor for me was when something finally worked. I would just like explode out of my chair, and I'd be like, darling, come and look at him. And I was like, it's going to ask you for a number. Type in the number honey

Chloe Condon  25:00
The first time I ever made a program was like a cat aged cat calculator like hat your ears. I was like, darling, look, this cat

Pj Metz  25:12
is that feeling? keep chasing it because I got that feeling just the other day the same feeling.

Chloe Condon  25:20
Yeah, I that the if you go back in a bunch of the stream. So for people who aren't familiar, PJ and I were doing a stream for a while where we were building a bunch of chat bots, we were still doing it. But when we got our chat bots to work, I mean, even as someone who's been working in this field for a while, it's exciting when your code read using this not work. We also have a great comment here. Awesome transitions into tech love to see it. I totally agree. I love to see folks, especially who really didn't have any exposure to this world before in a very short time and in a year. Now, make this transition. So first day teaching first day, working at get lab PJ give us a little bit of insight into the differences between those worlds.

Pj Metz  26:13
So one of the things that I have found interesting is Git lab is very intentional about onboarding, and it's such a blessing there, like you've got a month, and then you need to learn how to use Git lab and how to do stuff. But we're really not expecting output from you in that time, we expect you to do a lot of learning. And the fact that they set up that amount of time for it is huge. When I was a teacher, I got my first teaching job actually in the middle of the year. I got out of school, I graduated in August, and I moved to a town in Florida called Melbourne. It's on the east coast of Florida. And I couldn't get a job. I was living with my girlfriend at the time who was an engineer. I had a master's degree in education, and nobody wanted to hire me in that town. So I was just handing resumes to school secretaries and saying if you have any openings, please think of me. And in late October, an opening came up. And assistant principal called me said we'd love to have you in for an interview. And I was currently driving back to Gainesville, which is about three hours. I was like, oh, by the way to Gainesville, the DJ, a party wave that came out wrong. I used to work in a TGI Fridays, and they're paying me money for a Halloween party. I don't have any money. I can interview Monday. And so I came back and interviewed and they were like, well, we have a teacher who got sick, you'd be taking over their, their English one in English, three classes. And then when they come back in January, which is the plan. That's when your contract would be up. And I was like, yeah, I'll do it done. And so my first day teaching was November 1, middle of the first semester with classes I had never met before. And it was I was thrown into the fire.

Chloe Condon  27:57
Yeah, right on the deep end. To do

Pj Metz  27:59
it go learn. I was like pulling stuff from Mike. I was like, I had to like establish myself as a person that could trust. I had to like, figure out what they had been doing and figure out lesson plans because there was zero lesson plans. And I just had to start swimming.

Chloe Condon  28:16
Yeah, it was a lot more like room to Oh, I can.

Pj Metz  28:23
Yeah, yeah. If I had gotten the job before the beginning of the school year, you only get a week as a teacher to plan out the entire year.

Chloe Condon  28:31
Wow. Shadow while there's I mean, truly, teachers, we love you. You're doing a lot, a lot of work and educating them. You should be getting paid more money than you are. Yes, yes, yeah, I'm here. So you are both working in some very interesting roles. And I love this because a lot of folks when they go to boot camp, or they're learning how to code, they think, okay, the only rule out there for me is a junior software developer or like junior engineer or you know, internship. And you're both working in some really unique roles. Y'all want to share what you're doing at these awesome new companies, you've gotten jobs that? Sure.

Larena Iocco  29:11
So I am working as a solutions engineer, right now at data dog, which is considered I am assuming considered sort of an entry level developer position because I am definitely entry level. So while I'm not writing a lot of code, I will be helping customers users of data dog troubleshoot why their integrations and things aren't working properly. So I get to look at a lot of code or a will once I finished my onboarding, and help people solve problems with how their integrations work. And one of the things that I was really excited for with data dog in general is they have a lot of opportunity to continue learning. Obviously, I'll be exposed to we have over 400 different integrations that we offer with our products. So there's the opportunity Due to learn about a lot of different things, PJ was talking about learning about containers, like, I'm gonna get to learn about Docker I like, you know, I know what SAML is, and a yam all and, you know, and all the Mario Kart character, right. But as I take on tickets to help customers with different integrations, I get to learn about different aspects of coding. And then once I've been there a little longer, I can actually start, like, sort of internally, interning, if you will, like with different departments and learning like a specialty within the data, dog product, or like, sort of internally interning with a full on engineering team and like promoting into full engineering at some point. So while I'm not a full software engineer, right now, I'm a solutions engineer, I get to learn a lot about a lot of different things, which is really cool to me, because one of the things that's exciting to me about software engineering is the continual learning. Like there's so many pieces of the product if you're you need to know the entire product, enable to actually help people with the product, which is great, but you get to learn a lot on the job. Yeah, so they say our onboarding is like, four to six months until you like really know everything, although I do I do have like a four week training schedule. So okay.

Pj Metz  31:25
I mean, I talk to people and get lab, they're like, it's been seven months, and I still don't know everything. So and I'm like, Okay, good. Same, same. Yeah,

Chloe Condon  31:34
yeah, I feel like especially when you're in your very first, you know, technical or engineering role. You're kind of not only like, okay, like, I'm here, I signed the paperwork. It's my first day. But you're also kind of like, please, someone asked me, you know, I'm sure you're both itching to go out and have people ask you, what do you do? So you can say, I work in? software engineer, I'm a software engineer, and PJ, how about how about your role, so you are working in a, in a role that's kind of aligned with education thing,

Pj Metz  32:09
I can't, this job actually exists, like, like, when I, when I read the description, I was like, I felt like they were just talking about me. I am a education evangelist with the community relations team at Git lab. And I think that's the first time I've introduced myself by like, my title and my team. And that feels kind of neat. Like, it's very like, like, I'm a cook, because before they were like, what do you do, I was like, I teach high school English. I read poetry, you want to hear about Margaret Atwood, I will talk about her. Um, so But yeah, our job and the community relations team is reaching out to the community of Git lab users. And one section of those users are schools and universities and students. And what we're trying to do is we take our top level product, and we give it to educational institutions to use in the classroom for free. So we want to help students learn DevOps and learn about that cycle, and learn about ci CD and all the stuff that they're going to be expected to do in their jobs. We want to bring that to the classroom, we want to make it easier for professors and instructors, to help students know that this is what's happening in the tech world right now. And so that way, they can be better prepared when they come out of it as they enter the workforce.

Larena Iocco  33:22
Very cool. teaching the future coders of the world. I will say I also interviewed for this job that PJ secured and as I was interviewing for it, I was like, this is the perfect job for PJ interacting with high schools to like teach about the product. I was like this, this is a job for PJ, like I have a friend, I did not

Chloe Condon  33:48
marry me, you should get a referral. But

Larena Iocco  33:52
I'm pretty sure we both had our first round interview with them and like the same week, but like, as I was interviewing board and learning more about the position would entail I was like, this is a job for PJ.

Chloe Condon  34:05
Cool that you're both able to use pieces from your previous life. And I will say I'm having a tearful, proud moment here, because I was with both of you when you were at very high points of your job search, and very low points of the job search. I famously have told the story many times before that I broke down crying and a whole foods once when I got a rejection letter from a job that I very much wanted post boot camp. So reflecting on that time, because obviously you're both now you're a weekend. You're like, Oh, I gotta fill out all these tickets.

Pj Metz  34:43
I'm like, Oh, is it the weekend? Yeah, every day.

Chloe Condon  34:47
How are you? Like, I know that there are definitely moments especially if you're self taught, especially if you're making this career change. When you think it's not gonna happen. There's no way this is gonna happen. I think you both maybe even said those words to me at some point thinking like this is impossible. What is your advice to someone either starting out this journey thinking about doing this journey? Like, I think we talk a lot about the iceberg of success where people see like, oh, that person did it. But you know, they don't see all the workings underneath it. What do you have to say to those folks who are who are maybe tiptoeing into this, this coding journey?

Larena Iocco  35:26
Just keep at it, keep trying, don't give up. Like, it's not it's not easy. It's not a piece of cake. But that doesn't mean you can't do it.

Chloe Condon  35:37
Totally. I know there are a lot of moments PJ wanted to throw his computer as we were building our Shania Twain bar.

Pj Metz  35:46
There's there was thinking, I'm never really gonna understand code enough to make something there was thinking I was never going to convince someone to take a chance on me because I felt like a huge risk. I still feel like a risk like in when I look at myself, at a company that's willing to spend money on me. I'm like, you're taking a risk. And I'm learning to accept that. That That may be true, but that doesn't devalue me. I may. Oh, I'm about to use some song lyrics here. So I'm Laura Jane. Grace. Get ready. Laura Jane, Grace is the lead singer of against me a great punk band out of Florida. And Laura Jane Grace has album she released during quarantine. And that first song on that album is called the swimming pool song. And the lyrics are the opening lyrics are, I am an empty swimming pool, I am emptied out and drained. But my capacity remains unchanged. And this idea of just because I don't feel like I'm full and and useful and good at what I'm doing right now. Doesn't mean I don't have the capacity to get there. And I just have to get there. And I will feel confident if I give myself the chance to I love

Chloe Condon  36:59
that. I love that. It's like the glass half full, but it's a swimming

Pj Metz  37:04
pool. But it's a swimming pool.

Chloe Condon  37:08
Ah, well, how is onboarding been like? How are you feeling now? A week and two weeks into your jobs? Are you feeling good? Or like oh, no, I need to go back and escape to the circus again.

Pj Metz  37:23
It's really good. I'm getting to know a lot of people. Git lab does this thing called coffee chats where you can just look someone up in the company, find room in their schedule, and you can say coffee chat this time. 15 or 30 minutes, and the policy is accepted and meet people. And I've met so many amazing people already. And I can't imagine being in a better place than I am right now. I'm just happy.

Larena Iocco  37:46
That's so cool. We have something on our Slack, which I think is like a slack wide thing. It's called donut. Yeah, yeah, that so I have my first like donut meetup, like, right after eight minutes today to like, just meet a random person within the company and like, talk about our backgrounds and what we do, I guess,

Pj Metz  38:05
don't be a stranger, right?

Larena Iocco  38:08
or coffee and coffee and donut break? Oh, that's good.

Chloe Condon  38:14
I think one of the most frustrating parts, especially when I started to interview and I was newer to this whole engineering world was not knowing what I didn't know. And I say this because I would go and do an interview, I would whiteboard and realize, Oh, I really need to review my JavaScript. And then I get an interview for a tech company that worked with containers. And then all of a sudden, I needed to dedicate two to three days to just learning everything there was to learn about containers. And I think Marina and I had a very structured system with our with our boot camp, of course. But after that we were free out to the world. How do you figure it out,

Larena Iocco  38:49
and we had a lecture that was like, This is what you should learn next. And it was a mile was like so I have to learn. Now I have to learn all these things before I'm a viable employee prospect. Like, that was not the plan. Let me tell you, I learned about you know, 2% of those things, and I still got a job.

Chloe Condon  39:10
So how did you navigate that during your job search? And I think, you know, PJ, your pool analogy is really interesting about having to just be this open reservoir to like, allow new knowledge to come into

Pj Metz  39:23
Mo's most useful.

Chloe Condon  39:25
And I'm sure I and I'm sure I had this conversation with you as well that people come at you when you're looking for your first job, and they'll give you different advice like contribute to open source or build lots of projects or study leak code or build a portfolio site. How did you sift through that noise and know what to do?

Pj Metz  39:45
I didn't. That's the best thing is is you're gonna have people who come out and are successful and will say, Well, this is what I did. And really, so much of it is floundering And so much of it is, is building that neural pathway. Your mind of what makes things make sense for you that it's going to be different. So it's like what Laureen what Marina said earlier about, just keep going, like you're gonna hit walls, there's gonna be times where you're really mad, where you're upset where you hate everything. Take a break and treat yourself nicely. But when you're ready, get back up and do it again. You know, it's, it's, it's, it's hard, it's gonna be hard. Yeah, suck, and there's gonna be days that you hate it. But there's going to be days that are great. And you have to work for those.

Chloe Condon  40:34
Yeah. And I think that there are definitely a day is where loreena you and I would talk about something and you'd be like, I don't know, I just need to go on a walk. And I'd be like, please do the power of lock

Larena Iocco  40:46
is very strong. And it's and it's hard to remember that sometimes, like, you don't have to sit and stare at the computer for 12 hours a day, like you can get up and leave it and come back. And then like, you know, I like I literally solved a coding challenge in my dream once I went to bed frustrated, couldn't figure it out. But I was like, I can't work on this anymore. Like, come back to it later. Whatever, literally woke up at three in the morning, like wrote out some pseudocode on a scrap of paper because I had solved it in my head. I was like, I love that. I think this might have like, took down some weird ass notes without my contacts in and like, the next morning, I looked at them. And I was like, Oh, this actually like, maybe makes sense. And like it worked.

Chloe Condon  41:30
Like, you can explain this as a montage in a movie. Like with the over scoring. I'm just like, writing out the code on a chalkboard. Yeah. I can't imagine that. But you a couple years ago, you know, as a circus clown would think someday I'm going to wake up at three in the morning.

Larena Iocco  41:52
And yeah, be a software engineer in my dreams,

Chloe Condon  41:59
literally and your dreams. And if anybody has any questions for PJ and Marina, feel free to drop them in the chat. You can ask them job questions, career search questions, boot camp questions, learn to code questions, all those kind of things. I have to say all I'm very, very proud of both of you having now on the other side, you can officially say that you're working in tech. What was it like to apply for jobs? Because I know both of you were going into this world. Never having had applied for technical roles like this before? What was that like for you?

Larena Iocco  42:37
I went through a lot of different tactics during the like, you know, six or so months that I was working on things. And you know, no one way is gonna work for one person. And I feel like I tried them all. I had times where I like, tried to really look at the companies before I applied and make sure I aligned with their values. I had a week where I threw 50 resumes out into the void, you know, and then most weeks, were somewhere in between I tried, you know, cold reaching out to people on LinkedIn, which for me was not very successful. I don't think I ever had somebody responds, even when they were graduated from the same school as me, like being like, Hey, I see you work at this company. Like, let's chat. Um, you know, that tack didn't work for me. But for some people I know, that does, like, you know, there's so many different ways to go about doing things. But I mean, kind of, like, just stick with it on doing coding challenges, just you got to keep applying for jobs. Because whether you're very meticulous about what you apply for you throw like a million pieces of spaghetti at the wall, it's still going to be a numbers game.

Chloe Condon  43:47
So yeah, yeah. How about up j i know you came on. You came on hello world and talked about a talk that you gave called confusion is the sweat of learning, which I love that title. Because I know if I'm if I'm sweating, I'm confused. And I'm learning. So I think you had to learn a lot of things as you interviewed. Is that right? Because, yeah, we had the luxury of a boot camp where we did Wait for it in practice and things like that. How was that for you learning how to interview as an engineer.

Pj Metz  44:23
So I think that I'm, I'm very fortunate that like one of one of my strengths, going into all of this was my interpersonal skills. And like, I'm just I'm really good at talking to people I'm really good at being authentic. I think it's one of my biggest strengths. So interviews for me, never worried me unless there was a technical aspect to it. So that was something I was always kind of scared of that they were going to be like, and now we'd like you to do this. And they'd like, pull out a whiteboard and suddenly there'd be one in front of me and I was like, How'd you do that? And they're like the time starts now. Like, turn over a sand timer from like a game of life. Like, yeah, like I don't know what you want. But I, I'm, there's a specific story that comes to mind of a company that was like, I saw them on indeed, or something. And I threw in an application. And they wrote back really quick. And they were like, yeah, we'd love to chat. And I was like, Oh, cool. And then I was like, What is this company? And I looked them up, and they were doing blockchain stuff. And I was like, Okay, yeah. And I looked at, I was like, What is blockchain? And like, I was like, Yeah, I can, I can totally. Yeah. So I, like took the interview. And he was like, Alright, so we'd like to blow and he's like, we're gonna give you this homework. And we'd love you to get involved on the forums, and then we'll take a look. And I was like, yeah, totes, and stopped about after a day. I was like, I don't know what I'm doing. I'm sorry. Yeah, I

Larena Iocco  45:50
took a I took an interview for a data engineer, because I was like, Yeah, I really liked SQL in school, like, let's do some, they're gonna use Python. And then they gave me a take home challenge that was like, after, like a day of banging my head against the wall and crying, I had to just be like, it's okay to not turn in this take home, like, you don't know as much as you hoped you did, or that you hoped you could learn in 36 hours. And even if you turn this in, if this is what they expect, in an interview, like, what are they going to expect from you in the job? And it's a startup. So what are they going to expect you to be able to accomplish on your own and I just had to be like, right, it's okay. And I emailed them on Monday morning, and I said, Thank you very, so very much for the opportunity to do this take home. But it's made me realize that I think this job wouldn't be the right fit for me. And I don't have something that I would feel proud to turn in. So thanks. But no, thanks.

Chloe Condon  46:46
Yeah, we have a comment in the chat here from Adrian whiteboard scare me as well. I had no one knows about whiteboarding. In fact, I think that was the hardest part of seeing these two folks go through their interview process was telling them going through all my old whiteboarding stories. But yeah, it's interviewing is a is a scary process. And we used to audition, you know? Yeah. Ah, man. Well, I think that we have covered a lot of ground on the show today, but I also want to make sure that we talk about very important pug day pug updates. We did have a chat, we're gonna ask about your product. How is your product doing?

Larena Iocco  47:28
My pug is wonderful. She's right. She's sleeping on the chair next to me. I'll just reach over and pet her. She's good. Yeah, she's five. She's got a little bit of a gray beard going on. She's

Chloe Condon  47:42
adorable. We've got a lot of fans in the chat here. Well, y'all what so what is what is next you got the job, you've on boarded or your onboarding? I should say you're you're starting to slowly but surely feel comfortable with all the different tools and internal team messaging, ticketing systems and things like that. What are you most excited for? With these new jobs? What is the most what's kind of the biggest change in your life now working in tech coming from these non technical roles?

Larena Iocco  48:16
Money? Yes, that's the biggest retirement account now.

Chloe Condon  48:25
Yeah, I think that's that's important to note, right? Like a lot of people like I'm sure yourself Kj, like you were a teacher before you got into tech. Like, that must be a huge change for you and your personal life to be able to work in the tech industry.

Pj Metz  48:40
It's big. Yes. It's just I mean, it's the reason I got into it. So like, I don't know about you learn about my first paycheck hit and I was like, This is amazing. is the best. Yeah.

Chloe Condon  48:49
Yeah. Working in person anymore. PJ, you're all working remote completely. Now.

Pj Metz  48:55
The whole company is fully remote top to bottom CEO doesn't have a home office or doesn't have an office. He has a home that he works from.

Larena Iocco  49:03
Yeah, we are not. We are fully remote right now. The New York office is open. If you want to go in I can't go in until I get my ID I might start going in for the free lunches. Um, but yeah, I mean, I'd be lying. I think we'd all be lying. If we said we didn't get into this because there was a paycheck attached to it. Every job has a paycheck attached to it. So hopefully you can find one that you enjoy that you learn a lot that you find interesting, which Yes, yes, yes, this software engineering did turn out to be all three of those things for me, but I would be lying if I said I didn't go What's this engineering thing if I didn't think that there was a good paycheck attached? Sure, sure. I'm moving into a better apartment this weekend. I'm moving into Manhattan, which has like been a dream of mine. I've lived in New York for two years, but I live in Queens with a one in a one bedroom apartment with two other people. You know, like Moving into a four bedroom apartment with one other person. So we both have an office and a bedroom. Like my dog is right there. My bed is right there. Like, we'd be lying if we said it's life changing.

Pj Metz  50:13
Yeah. And it's the kind of money that like everyone deserves access to. And that's, I think, why Chloe and Lorena and I, all non traditional backgrounds, advocates so hard for people having access to boot camps and access to this stuff, because not a single person on this screen right now was ever told that they could do something in tech.

Chloe Condon  50:37
Yeah, and I think we really have to thank my boyfriend ty. This is such an interesting, right, like, it's sometimes and Brandon and I have talked about this on the show before and it's a big reason why we do this show. So thank you both for coming on today is sometimes it just takes seeing someone who looks like you or even someone just encouraging you to get into a field because if my boyfriend Ty had not told me to get into tech, then you know I don't think the reader would have seen me to detect if I get a text to say what PJ liquids all sort of connected and I think that's why it's so important to make this a welcome space and to bring more people in right like it I get so excited when we get people from creative backgrounds in this industry because, you know, a more fun bots to build obviously.

Larena Iocco  51:34
I want y'all to teach me how to build a bot at some point.

Chloe Condon  51:37
Yes, I don't know. For fighters who aren't familiar PJ and I've been building some bots on Twitter using logic apps Azure Functions. Now they're all hosted I think on Git lab is

Pj Metz  51:50
moved it all to Git lab and now use the CI CD on Git lab to automatically deploy to Heroku will share

Chloe Condon  51:55
in the show notes and links to those bots. We have shanaya bot we have Ariana Grande bot Brittany bot is still on logic apps to this day. But yeah, tell tell some folks about the bots maybe we can brainstorm in our final eight minutes here. Maybe they

Pj Metz  52:11
actually add an automatic tweet to my personal profile that was going to tag a mountain dew kickstart and beg vendor sponsor me tweets gonna send out automatically I just set up

Chloe Condon  52:25
PJ I have to you may need to participate in my new bots for good talk that I'm going to give because I am I'm currently putting together some content on T shirt bots on Twitter and why maybe?

Pj Metz  52:38
Yeah, maybe more good bots. And even like, I think I put together something I was freelancing and I did a article that I published a depth to that was leading to a video for linode which is a cloud service company. And in my Dentsu article it opens with I love Twitter bots. Well not those Twitter bots, not the kind of that mess with democracy. But like the fun kind, like shanaya

Chloe Condon  53:01
like semi about we've got shanaya here of course, this is our our let's go girls bot that tweets everyday let's go girls and also will respond to your tweets. And then we of course have many bots on here. So what bots should we build with you are you know,

Larena Iocco  53:18
we have to I don't know. Yeah, I don't know what I want to bada phi in my life. But

Pj Metz  53:26
we don't have a bed meddler bought.

Chloe Condon  53:28
We don't we don't have about midway. We do have it's Brittany bought. This is an Azure Logic App, you can build it@aka.ms slash it's Brittany bot, that just tweets. It's Brittany bots every day around the same time so we can think of something that maybe is there some sort of fandom that you appreciate or or I know you really love Buffy and Buffy. Yeah, I

Larena Iocco  53:51
was gonna say I have a Roswell I Buffy bought. I mean, there was a Buffy bot in the TV series. She was a robot that looks less so maybe something like that. But also something that Roswell, maybe in conjunction with my podcast would be fun.

Chloe Condon  54:08
Whoo. I love this one t aviana ba t gras, Andre. You're showing some of our bots here. Maybe there's some sort of musical theater reference that is that iterates throughout the show. Love to think send us your sense. Oh, Oh, goodness.

Larena Iocco  54:30
I just had a thought. Okay, what if we built a red bot? That I mean, would it be too much that it tweeted every minute of every day? What minute it was okay, here?

Chloe Condon  54:43
No, Is that too much? That would be too much. But you know what we could do? Yes. And every day at the same time, so let's say 5pm pacific standard time it tells you

Larena Iocco  54:58
Okay, so maybe some Maybe not every minute, but like, once a day, and maybe it'll be like how many minutes there are left in

Chloe Condon  55:06
the year on December 31. At the end of the year, it says it's been five 500,600 minutes at midnight. Yeah. And then how does that work? Okay. Yeah, it doesn't, it doesn't. Okay. Well, we'll have to figure out this is all the fun. Adrian in the chat will know how fun it is to do a date time. So it'll be a fun project that we'll have to stream very soon. I'm very excited to build more bots with the all. So what is next? What is like next for you just starting new jobs. It's obviously your onboarding. You're doing all of this. But now that you're here, how does it feel? What is the what is what is next in the PJ? Like, let's let's do we did the Marvel origin story? Okay. Yeah. Like how do we get here? Let's like, close our eyes and like fast forward. Where Where do where do we see this journey leading us?

Pj Metz  56:02
I mean, in September, I'm gonna be in the Bahamas. Oh, wow. For contribute 2021 get labs, every nine months in person get together they host for a week. Oh, fun. I'll be hanging out at Atlantis resort with a bunch of co workers. That'll be sweet.

Chloe Condon  56:20
And it'll be so cool to have co workers soon. Like as as technical co workers like Marina, how's he getting lunch with your co workers? Oh, eventually.

Larena Iocco  56:32
I'm stoked. My mentors are super cool. I can't wait to meet them in person. I had my first meeting with my mentor on Friday, and we had so much in common. She was like, Oh, I like I was like, Oh, I see you have a sewing machine behind you. Like what do you make? And she's like, Oh, I make purses. And I was like, I make the purses.

Pj Metz  56:52
gotta bring your personnel.

Chloe Condon  56:53
Well, I'm really excited her loreena to get settled in her job and get very interested in 3d printing and adding different 3d printing elements to fabrics. Like this is a whole world that I'm so excited for you to explore. And don't even get me started with custom keywords.

Larena Iocco  57:11
I need to get some like fun keys for this one. Oh, yeah, it's so clicky. And I love it. But also I can't figure out how to make it work with my work computer. So

Pj Metz  57:21
Amazon $20 special. This is the time now.

Chloe Condon  57:28
Let's see. We we are just a we are just finishing up this dream here. We have a question that says, When do I complete education and start working? I'm so excited. Yeah, I totally agree. The Bahamas sounds like a really great place to go. I think a really great way to wrap up this show is to share. Let's share a story maybe from the job search that can give inspiration, or hope maybe some words of wisdom to anybody out there looking for their first technical job because maybe coming from a non traditional background or a boot camp on the spot. I know very traditional story. And you have two minutes, no pressure. I

Pj Metz  58:22
mean, like it's honestly like, the biggest thing is what is what loreena said earlier, it's like it's like keep going. There are so many times where I felt like things had all gone wrong all at once. And I really wasn't going to make it and I was like, I quit my job teaching. I didn't have any gainful employment ready to go. And so it was this like Terrifying moment where I didn't know what to do. But I leaned on my mentors. I leaned on my support system, my social support system, my friends and family. And I just I did it. I was like, This isn't fun right now. But I need to do it. And I just got to work as much as I could as much as I was able to I gave myself time to be sad and time to hurt. And then I moved on and started the work

Chloe Condon  59:05
about you loreena any any words was more stories or advice?

Larena Iocco  59:12
No, I don't know. Anyone can do it. Like seriously, like, get more interesting people in tech. Like you can do it.

Chloe Condon  59:20
Yeah, I think that is a great way to end the show y'all. I am so so proud of both of you. We will link to both of the previous episodes of PJ and the Rena from the shows you can see their glow up into real life engineers. We're getting the field. I know Brandon's not here today. But I speak for both of us when I say we're both so proud of you. And we can't wait to see what you do. Working in tech and bringing all your awesomeness and creativity to tech. So until next week, y'all. We will see you on a Fitz and have a wonderful week. Oh, actually build this next week. We will see you in a couple weeks from now. Have a great build y'all.

Pj Metz  1:00:04
She signed off, she's gone. She left and it says we're still live. I know it's just us now we're running the show. It's just that that's our show now.