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A few things I'm excited about - Lara L. Schenck

A few things I’m excited about

Adjusting to life in LA has taken a lot longer and a lot more work than I anticipated. I find myself re-discovering my work and learning habits, but I’m finally starting to feel back in the game after my break earlier this year. Here are a few things I’m particularly excited about.

Black and orange, circular logo for the Shoptalk Show podcast

Adjusting to life in LA has taken a lot longer and a lot more work than I anticipated. I find myself re-discovering my work and learning habits, but I’m finally starting to feel back in the game after my break earlier this year. Here are a few things I’m particularly excited about:

I’m on ShopTalk Show with Mandy Michael!

I’ve been a long time listener of ShopTalk Show, a podcast hosted by Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier, and about 2.5 years ago I was lucky enough to be a guest on the show after I wrote Tales of A Non-Unicorn: A Story About the Trouble With Job Titles and Descriptions for CSS-Tricks. In a nutshell, the article was about my failing FizzBuzz during an interview for a role I wouldn’t have thought would require that.

Since writing that article, which was very well read, I’ve been working independently and took a long break. Now, I’m back on the search for a full-time position, and I’ve found the landscape of job-searching to be even more challenging with so much focus on JavaScript when my main skills are HTML and CSS.

A few weeks ago, Mandy Michael published a fantastic article, Is there any value in people who cannot write JavaScript?. It really resonated me, particularly given my so-far unsuccessful job search. The article gave me a nudge to write in this question to ShopTalk:

Are HTML and CSS actually less important now? Is this the new landscape where we all need to be eyeballs deep in JS, or is this a wave of hype? How can we (the better at HTML/CSS than JS front-enders) talk about our skills better or market ourselves in a different way?

Rather than just answering the question, Chris invited me to come on the show* and talk about it along with the aforementioned article’s author, Mandy! The episode is out and you can listen to it here. Lots more on this topic coming soon.

* Full disclosure: I messaged Chris after I sent in the question and said I’d love to come on the show again if they’d have me. I think it’s worth noting that this potentially-going-to-increase-my-Twitter-following opportunity happened because I asked for it to happen. Fewer things are magical than you might think!

Teaching for Girl Develop It

I recently taught a two-day Intro to HTML/CSS for Girl Develop It LA, and it was fantastic! This was the first time I’ve taught an actual class since my break, and it felt great. I really love teaching, and it helps me to remember that I love the coding part, too. CSS is so friggin cool (potentially not a popular opinion these days), and I love explaining concepts in different ways for different learners. This class was particularly receptive, too; a fantastic group of seven or so women, all beginning coders and eager to learn.

One of the highlights was teaching everyone layout with CSS Grid. It was such a relief to teach an intentional, well-thought-out system like Grid versus something that is a fundamental hack (lookin’ at you, clearfix). There were no browser support issues, and everyone seemed to understand the concept of applying display: grid; to a parent, and then defining a grid to apply to its children.

Bringing WordPress into the larger web development community (and vice versa)

I’m developing a personal goal to burst the WordPress bubble. Particularly with the adoption of the WordPress REST API, it is a very powerful and usable publishing tool that can benefit websites and web-apps alike, and it seems strange it hasn’t come up more in larger web development conversations (unless I’m missing something). Similarly, the WordPress community seems tilted to the end-user side rather than the developer side (in general). I’m not 100% sure why this is, but I aim to put some efforts towards changing that.

I’m excited to be helping organize the Hollywood WordPress meetup here in LA, and will be doing my “Sass for WordPress” talk on October 18th. LA seems to have an active group of beginning developers and boot-camp graduates attending meetups, and I think this could be a perfect opportunity to burst the WordPress bubble by attracting new developers to WordPress meetups oriented around popular development tools that are not specific to WordPress.

The most recent redesign (v3!)

You’re lookin’ at it! I want to flesh out these single posts with a little something else, but I’ve gotten some great feedback about the redesign so far. I’m almost embarrassed by the number of hours I’ve put into this version, but at the end of the day, good work simply takes a lot of hours.

I really liked the “I teach fishing” motif and accompanying illustrations from the previous version of this site, and it was a high standard to live up tp. My fear was that removing the “what I can do for you” component would turn this into a run of the mill “hire me plz” portfolio site. It kind of is that, but I think I’ve injected enough personality that it’s memorable. At the end of the day, I really just wanted to make my site a place where I enjoy posting content. And so far, I do!

Attending, not starting, meetups in LA

For whatever reason, my natural inclination has always been to start new groups rather than joining existing ones. Even in elementary school, I started clubs such as the “Fish Club” and the “Horse Lovers Club”. When I moved to LA in March, I didn’t see much of a front-end meetup scene besides JavaScript groups, so I tried to start a Sass/front-end meetup. It didn’t really work because 1) I was brand new to LA and didn’t know anybody, 2) I was brand new to LA and didn’t know anybody, and 3) traffic.

I’m definitely not giving up on starting a Sass/CSS meetup here, but I need flesh out my network first and invest in existing groups and meetups first because there are some fantastic ones: Learn Teach Code, Hack for LA, and Headquarters HQ in particular. Things take a lot longer to percolate out here than they do in NYC for a variety of reasons, and at the end of the day, it’s a great lesson in working with others and learning patience 🙌.

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