The landscape for new developers today is downright frightening. Beginners (and developers of all levels, really) must filter through the barrage of online and offline learning resources in addition to deciding what languages they should learn in the first place.
As a largely self-taught developer, I can relate, though I do think I started coding when the web was a bit simpler (this was around 2010, to be exact). Looking back, I did a great job teaching myself and I was fortunate to have a mentor, in the beginning, then paid projects that dictated what technologies I learned.
My one regret? I wish I knew how much it would have helped me to understand what my code actually did. I think many hours of frustration and debugging could have been saved had I taken more time to explore the problems at hand, learning how a tool or language actually worked instead of jumping straight to the search bar and finding a Stack Overflow solution I could modify and use to solve my problem.
Evading these fundamentals is often a result of necessity; if something needs to be done, you can’t putz around exploring the source of a certain plugin just to see when that one click event is fired. That being said, the hour you spend exploring that plugin source might just save you five hours down the line when something breaks or behaves unexpectedly. When you understand how something works, you become a more confident, resilient developer.
Of course, that process takes a while – I’m still working on it myself. But I digress! The point is: I’m really passionate about teaching. I hope I can make the path for new developers a little easier than it was for me.
Here are some places I’ve taught for in the past:
- Pratt Institute of Design: UI Prototyping in Code, Coding I – II; 2014-2016
- Decoded: Code in a Day facilitator; 2014-2016
- General Assembly: Front-end Web Development, lead instructor; 2013-2014
- Girl Develop It: Hands-on Sass Fundamentals, Coding for WordPress, Building Custom WordPress Websites and Intro to HTML/CSS.
- CSS-Tricks Office Hours: Organizer; 2015-2016
- The Tackle Box: Online course teaching WordPress development; 2015-2016
I find writing to be the most illuminating, and most difficult, of the things I do. Like teaching, you can’t write about something without getting to know it inside and out. I love that process and am always striving to publish relatable and useful content.
Here are a few things I’ve written over the years, and be sure to check out my blog for more.
- CSS-Tricks: Advocating for Accessible UI Design
- CSS-Tricks: Tales of a Non-Unicorn: A Story About the Trouble with Job Titles and Descriptions
- The Pastry Box Project: The Time a Bird Shat on My Laptop
- The Pastry Box Project: On Cocktails, Websites, and Originality
- Workspiration: Interview
And here are some podcasts I’ve appeared on over the years:
- ShopTalk Show: The Value of HTML and CSS with Mandy Michael and Lara Schenck
- The Versioning Show: WordPress Development, Freelancing, and Taking Time Off, with Lara Schenck
- ShopTalk Show: Guest, Episode 171
- Sass Bites Podcast: Road to Sass Conf
- Code & Supply Podcast: Code & Supply Meets Lara Schenck
As well as teaching, I am always on the lookout for speaking opportunities whether it be at a meet-up, school event, or conference. Here’s a super exciting, upcoming one! At WordCamp Europe 2018, I’ll be doing a workshop about Gutenberg:
And some past conferences I’ve spoken at:
- Abstractions Conf: The Five-figure WordPress Website
- WordCamp Pittsburgh: Vetting and Choosing Themes
- SassConf: Why the Designer Failed FizzBuzz
- WPNYC Meetup: Regular presenter, Archive of Presentations
- WordCamp Montreal: Sassy WordPress
- WordCamp NYC: Freelancing, Real Talk
If you think my experience would be a good fit at your event or meetup I’d love to discuss. Get in touch! I’m currently studying up on Computer Science fundamentals and hoping to speak about that soon.
What do you do for money?
Ah, great question!
The teaching, speaking, writing, and community work I do doesn’t exactly pay the bills. I’d love for that to my job someday but for the time being, I do contract WordPress and front-end development for creative agencies. Even though agency work is not my end goal, I quite enjoy it! I’ve had consistent work with great people and contracting affords me the hours and flexibility to accommodate my passion projects.
Did you ever get a job?
I’ve been self-employed since 2012. I’ve gone through a couple of phases where I felt the urge to join a company full-time but, for better I think, it never worked out.
The twist is that I wrote about my job search a couple of times for CSS-Tricks – the first time was quite ranty, the second time less so – and I was vocal about how problematic the hiring landscape was/is, particularly for front-end.
I guess I kind of gave up on trying to revolutionize job titles, and I’m fine with that. The web is a young industry and hopefully, this is something that will work itself out in time.
I do still feel like I’d like to be full-time at the right company someday, but for now, I’m very content with my contract work and my passion projects. So you could say, yes, I did get a job…back again at Lara Schenck, LLC!
What's your favorite cocktail?
Ah, the ultimate question! It’s a daiquiri, hands down. And note that a daiquiri is not a frozen strawberry drink with a tucan on top, rather:
- 3/4 oz. (fresh) lime juice
- 3/4 oz. simple syrup
- 2 oz. white rum
And honorable mention would be a Jungle Bird, a classic tiki cocktail made with blackstrap rum, and any quality Mezcal, neat.
Did you really grow up on a llama farm?
You betcha, though I was way more into horseback riding during my childhood. I think my first experience with HTML and CSS was on a site called Horseland when I was around 10 years old. And looks like it still exists!
What podcasts do you listen to?
Ohh, I love podcasts:
Did you have fun in Utah?
Utah? Oh, let me fill you in. I got a little burnt out on business and NYC living at the end of 2016, so I took a ski-bum sabbatical to Alta, UT. I poured a lot of 3.2 beer at Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge, and turns out it didn’t take long to get my fill of beautiful mountains and fresh air. I cut the season a little short and took off to Los Angeles in March of 2017.
Are these really frequently asked questions?
Well, it started that way but now I’m just having fun.