The Imposter in All of Us

What I focus on gets 100% of my attention and care.  That seems to be such a wonderful quality, until I try to add all the pieces together.  While there are many pages in my book, they are all of different stories, different interests, so diverse that you would think my book was of many people. 

Why is this relevent now?

Recently, I decided that I was ready to re-start my career in technology.  Like most things that I do, focusing on ONE thing that I want to be good at and continue as a career has proved challenging.  

It all started when I began to compare my efforts with others.  Oh, don’t get me started, I know that is something one should never do, but alas there I was staring at all the GitHub accounts and blogs that were filled with a single focus.  These people are masters at this, how do I replicate this in the next 48 hours?  No, really, I did seriously consider that as a viable option.

While a resume is a very outdated way of presenting who we are as a person and a professional, it is still held in high regard.  Yep, dating myself here, but I was part of the generation that went to the copy store and found the most expensive paper I could afford to print my resume on.  Now, that same resume is held online for all to see and there is no need to impress with the weight of the paper and font selection. 

Diversity in Thought and Action 

Let’s just look at the last 12 months.  These are the things that don’t end up on a resume, but they are the actions I took which led me to where I am today.

Last year at this same time I was attending clases once a week, with field trips on Saturdays, to become a Texas Master Naturalist.  It was such an in-depth four months taught by amazing PhD’s in their given field of study.  We dug fossils up one week and handeled preserved fish the next.  

This has nothing to do with my interests in technolgy and it did not add to my GitHub account, but it was a very worthwhile experience.

Now, we are right up to the Christmas season and I spent a few weeks crocheting F-Bombs for my spouses entire team, along with homemade hand scrub for their spouses, and a cute mason jar with a mixed drink.  Oh, and lest I forget a personally curated present for each of their children. Very Pinterest worthy in the end.  Yep, still not GitHub worthy.

Next, came the season of building.  My adult son had returned home and so we needed to build out a room for him.  Over the next few months I learned many new skills: framing, drywalling, wiring, insulating, outside sheeting.  There was a lot of hard labor that happened in this short time.  Again, still not GitHub worthy. 

Now, we have the season of learning.  This started in February of this year.  I attended DSS, a data science conference, with my spouse.  This kicked off the 30 days of free access to DataCamp that culminated in a paid subscribtion.  Boy did I fight hard, in some circles this might have been referred to as raging against the machine.  I could not wrap my head around Python being a good choice as a development tool.  So, I plodded my way through the exercises, sending my spouse snippets of code demonstrating my underlying point that Python should never have seen the light of day, let alone be used to solve the world’s problems, but I digress, the end result is that we are still empty on the GitHub worthy content.

Then along came an opportunity.  It started as a joke, and quickly changed into something of substance.  My spouse made the offhanded comment that I should work with him.  I picked up a book and started down the path of learning all there is to know about Linux System Engineering.  In the end I consumed three full texts with an average page count of 700+ pages.  I worked exercises, and applied my new found knowledge to some home machines.  No one, and I repeat, no one, can mess up a Linux box better than a child.  

It was during this time frame that the family experienced two devestating storms.  One that ripped the gooseneck off our house and tore down our power line.  This led to us taking down several trees and tons of cleanup, things like fishing the basketball hoop out of the pool.  The second was a lightening strike so close to the house that it went up the ground, frying oh so many electronics.  The graveyard of appliances, computers, switches, routers, and all things with cords would make any one cringe.  

On the other side…

So, here I am, on the other side of that year.  Picking up Python with a new understanding, it is just different, and it really does have value, back at with DataCamp, and with the inkling to start applying for jobs. 

Yet, here I stand feeling like the imposter before I even begin.  What do I have to show for all the studying and work I have put in?  Where is my blog full of my lessons and awesome tidbits to share with others that may be sharing the journey of learning data science? Where is my GitHub account that is brimming with juicy exercises?

Well, a funny thing happened between my intentions of last year and where I stand now.

Life. 

In the end, I am faced with the fact that part of what I would bring to any potential employer is diversity of experience. 

  1. I was not afraid to pick up dead fish, wade through streams, or sit on the side of the road and dig up fossils.  It brought me great appreciations for the ecology of where I now call home. 
  2. My f-bombs are still talked about today.  As a matter of fact, two new people have started and I have but only a few days to make sure they have f-bombs.  
  3. I picked up the hammer and skills to build, even though I never had in the past.  Under the tutalage and guidence of my spouse, I learned several new skills. 
  4. I was never afraid to open a terminal window and navigate a Linux system, now I am not afraid to diagnose a boot issue, network connectivity, performance, or a myriad of things that I just let my spouse handle in the past.
  5. I have come to terms with Python and I am learning how to adapt my C++ knowledge to utilize Python for data science. 

While my GitHub account may not be brimming with hundereds of snippets of code, and my blog is filled with anyting from recipes to how to lead a team to success…I am, in the end a very well rounded person. 

Three Epiphanies 

I woke up this morning and decided that I was silly to compare myself.  Yeah, I know, that was a pretty obvious one that I should have already concluded, but alas, I am still human.

In short, I can end with this.

  1. I do not look like an average candidate and I never will.  Guess what?  I also decided that is a GOOD thing!
  2. My experiences, no matter if it is learning to wire a plug or recover the /boot directory of a Centos box, they all matter. 
  3. While job hunting can be a very de-humanizing event, the results do not define me.

Alas, it was a long journey to get here, but one that needed to be taken. When the right company is willing to take a chance on me, they will not be disappointed.  I can help remodel the building, do a little system adminstration work on the side, and still program up a pretty killer application. 😉

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