The book I'm holding here is Gayle Laakmann McDowell's "Cracking the Coding Interview" which I brought along on my very first trip to Walt Disney World in September 2019 to motivate me to get a job as an engineer someday.
The life of a college student is difficult, especially when they're trying so hard to build their own path into an industry that seems so impossible to reach. Lots of hours were spent teaching oneself how to set up the first
github.io page and playing with the git devils while plowing through 10 tabs of tutorial pages for the same subject. Because hey, how do you know which tutorial would actually work and answer your specific questions? The lovely thing about the Internet is that there are plenty of resources, but which ones are really worth the time?
At least, that's how it was for me, especially because I was discouraged from pursuing a degree in Computer Science and had no clue where to start on the path of self learning.
Now that I've graduated and started my full time job as a developer for Twilio's Developer Voices team, I realize that there is so much value in being a self taught programmer. I do wish that I was able to build my own operating system sometimes (yes I know that was notoriously the most challenging class) but I am glad that I spent time understanding myself and the types of projects I wanted to work on after graduation.
Introducing Developer for Technical Content, Diane Phan
Internships are about trying out new roles and projects, or even a whole new industry. This was definitely the case for me when I was offered the opportunity to intern remotely on the Developer Voices team!
I had the chance to create a new program for the Developer Network team and connect with interns from around the globe. It felt really cool, and not to mention, I felt so important and trusted in this role. I was not only able to work with other people outside of my team, but I was able to teach other interns how to write their first blog post and show the Internet that writing quality documentation can be interesting and exist on the web. After all, interning is about networking and trying new things!
Here's to hoping that this new generation of engineers enjoy writing articles and teaching people about their code so that there's less time and energy spent on opening 10 tabs of the same topic, just to look for the most helpful one!
At the end of the 12 week summer internship, I was offered a full time position which was crazy good news! As you can see, I accepted the position, and here's my story on why I chose to stay.
Write code for creativity and social good
I would say, my enthusiasm to do well in this role derives from my passion for organizing hackathons and empowering others to learn how to code. It's a whole different feeling to be surrounded by people who strive towards similar goals and have the mindset to learn, even if that meant working on a small project or failing.
As a hackathon organizer, I was able to invite many passionate and exciting people who understand that one of the best ways to learn is to build. What better way to build a project than to code towards a project or solve a problem that's meaningful to you?
At least, that's one of my biggest reasons for learning how to become a better coder!
I sought every chance to show my coworkers and my readers what kind of person I am through the articles I wrote. I grew up using the Internet so many of my influences stemmed from the virtual world, especially through watching a ton of Disney, playing video games, and listening to electronic music.
Being a developer for technical content is a very unique role that allows me to hack together a project and then write a technical tutorial to show people how they can use Twilio for their own projects, whether it's for a creative and artistic use, or to enhance their productivity and daily workflow. It was ultimately a mixed role of engineering, marketing, and teaching. Plus, I got to try out a bunch of different APIs that I was interested in, including the OpenAI GPT-3 engine!
One of my favorite projects so far was a data visualization on Google Maps that used Twilio WhatsApp API's services. This was heavily inspired by my love for using location data to connect people together, as well as the musician Porter Robinson. The cool part is that this Twilio project ended up on a huge EDM news site called "Your EDM" and Porter Robinson himself "liked" the project on Twitter. Talk about the highlight of my career so far!
I'm so excited to work on more projects like this, where I can show people that not only can you use Twilio for awesome projects, but code CAN be used as a creative tool!
Share the Twilio Magic
It is a pleasure to bring my own voice and interests to Twilio, whether it's working on a new project every few weeks, or helping an engineer write their first article about a project that they're excited about. It's evident that everyone we work with is valued for their individuality and creativity which makes it even more exciting to work with the Developer Network. Plus, who doesn't love quality documentation and how-to tutorials? Hopefully my work will save a college student some time from Googling the same topic over and over until they find what they're looking for so that they can bring their ideas to life.
I'm thrilled to try out new technologies and play around with more of Twilio's many products. It's incredible to show people the fun projects they can make with Twilio, no matter how big or small the idea is! Being a developer for the Dev Voices team has made me realize the kind of impact I want to make in the long run in my career so I hope you'll join me in this journey in becoming a stronger engineer, one article at a time!
Diane Phan is a Developer on the Developer Voices team. She loves to help beginner programmers get started on creative projects that involve fun pop culture references. She can be reached at dphan [at] twilio.com or LinkedIn.