A Quick Word With Emma Wedekind

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, we’re back for Round Two of “A Quick Word With”, bringing another awesome interview featuring Emma Wedekind!

Some background on Emma: She is is the creator of Coding Coach, an instructor on Egghead, and a podcast member for multiple podcasts. I think one of the coolest things about her is her Twitter, though, how she addresses the ups and downs of coding and just her openness on there.

Let’s get started.

General Questions

At what age did you get into coding and what got you into it?

I got into coding my sophomore year of college. So I was about 19 or so. I took an introduction to programming course and fell in love!

What was the thing that was most helpful to you learning code?

Realizing that there isn’t just one way to solve a problem. There are many, so be creative!

What types of activities or hobbies do you participate in?

I’m an Egghead instructor, panelist on the podcast JSParty, founder of Coding Coach, blogger on Ultimate Courses, and much more!

Who is the most influential person to you as a developer? 

Hmm, I have so many people I admire. I really enjoy Jason Lengsdorf and the work he does with Gatsby. We worked together at IBM and he’s just a genuinely kind person and good teacher. 

What was one of the biggest things you had to deal with and solve during your time as an aspiring developer?

I quit my job at IBM in Austin, Texas in 2018 and moved to Germany. Finding a job in a foreign country when you don’t speak the language is a challenge.

Do you still ever have IMPOSTOR syndrome or were you able to get over it? What do you to deal with it?

I will always have impostor syndrome. I just try to look back at my wins, big or small, to reassure myself that I am worthy of being here. 

What resources do you find helpful to coders?

Everyone needs to find their own learning platform. I personally love reading and watching video tutorials. Find the platform which resonates with you! I love Egghead and Frontend Masters

What cool projects are you working on?

I’m currently writing a small book: “101 Tips For Being A Great Programmer.” I’m also preparing several conference talks!

Ok, now let’s continue with more of the good stuff!

When looking at bias in your article from your blog there were some ones that I had never heard of or thought about. what would you say are the most widely held biases of these?

Implicit bias is a tough one to overcome because it’s not something we consciously choose. It’s human nature to gravitate towards like-minded people from similar backgrounds and demographics. So we need to consciously recognize and fight these biases.

Looking further into the fact that some of our biases are subconscious. how do we take measures to prevent these biases from being a part of our mental make-up?

I don’t know if you can ever truly get rid of implicit bias but recognize when and where it appears. Then ask yourself what led you to have this bias. Perhaps you just need more exposure to various cultures. Traveling, if you’re able to, is a great way to do so. 

When we handle bias, it would probably be most effective to start on the personal level. once we have managed to control our biases personally how do we incorporate that into or exterior environments, such as work, and our community?

If you see bias popping up, say something. Be an active bystander. You can do so respectfully but if you brush it aside, it never gets addressed. 

Do you think that companies are responsible for trying to create these environments, or is the responsibility the employees that are employed by them?

It’s a two-sided responsibility. Both the employer and employees are responsible for creating a bias-free culture where people are comfortable.

When looking at the stats for mentorship in the field results from your online polls, results from them show that most people don’t know who to ask, or where to start. How do we accomplish getting resources and knowledge of where to start for new developers?

There’s simply too much information out there and it’s overwhelming. I always recommend freeCodeCamp as a great place to start! It lays out information nicely.

To combat the problem with finding mentors or mentees you created Coding Coach. can you tell our readers a little bit about what Coding Coach is and what it can do for them?

Coding Coach is an open source mentorship platform that aims to provide any developer anywhere with a mentor. Currently we just have our alpha version out at mentors.codingcoach.io. You can search for a mentor based on geographic location, or technology, then send them a message. We’ve also created mentorship guidelines to help start the conversation. 

How did you come up with Coding Coach, and what makes it a better option than the alternatives?

Coding Coach is completely free. The mentors who are on the platform donate their time out of the goodness of their hearts. This allows anyone to get the mentorship they need. 

One thing that is kind of misunderstood sometimes is that a good mentorship usually is beneficial to both the mentor and mentee. what are some of the mistakes to avoid if you’re a mentee so that your giving back to your mentor?

Respect your mentors’ time. They’re donating their time. So you should lead the conversation and have 3-5 tangible goals to work towards. 

When mentoring someone what are some things to keep in mind so that your helping those you’re mentoring as much as possible?

Be patient with your mentees and don’t give them the answers. Give them guidance to solve the problem on their own and understand the process. 

What are the benefits of mentoring someone? 

There are many benefits. I believe it helps you understand a technology even better when you can break it down to someone. You also get to create a network by mentoring. This can be invaluable. 

WHAT IS SOME ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE READERS ON OVERCOMING THEIR DOUBTS ABOUT THEMSELVES AND JUST PUTTING THEMSELVES OUT THERE COMPLETELY?

You can never please everyone. So do what you love and at some point you’ll attract the right people. 

I agree with your view on the need to take a break sometimes whether it is from code or social media. what are some ways you make sure you take that time and how do you make sure you don’t take to much of a break? What benefits have you seen from having taken personal breaks?

I struggle with taking breaks because I feel unproductive. Additionally I’ve disabled all notifications on my phone. My phone is a tool that I use, it doesn’t use me. 

What do you find the hardest part of being involved in the coding community is?

The negativity that comes with anonymity on the internet. Unfortunately it’s a real problem and there isn’t much of a solution. I seek to educate over getting upset. 

What do you think we can do to increase interest in the field and how do we encourage people during the route to learning coding?

Show all the cool things we can build! Show all of the problems we can solve! Those often have a better impact than just talking about why coding is great. 

What do you do to keep from comparing yourself to others? It seems like a pretty common thing and results in further impostor syndrome? 

It’s hard but I focus on myself and my trajectory. Every path is different. No two people will have the same journey. So focus on yourself. 

That finishes round two, hope to see everyone for Round Three. Thanks for interviewing with us, Emma! Hope you enjoy the article!

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