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Student Stories: Donna Mesker

Currently studying Full-stack Web Development

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Donna, and I’m originally from Ohio. I have a bachelor's degree in accounting, and worked in that field for several years before becoming a production manager at the biggest post production facility in Central Florida. About two decades ago, my husband and I relocated to Florida because we thought that it held more opportunities to further our careers. My husband is a cinematographer and needed to establish an online presence so prospective clients could see his work and check his availability. So I taught myself basic coding and created a website. Over time, I learned more about the tech world and developed a love for coding and problem-solving.

Q: What ignited your passion for coding?

In the process of setting up a website for my husband's work, I discovered that I enjoy coding. It resonated with my analytical mindset. I loved the feeling of creating something from scratch and enjoyed the logical problem-solving aspect of it. Over the years, I learned more through forums and online tutorials. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pursue coding more formally to fill in any gaps in my self-taught knowledge.

Q: Can you tell us more about your professional background?

I have a varied background. After earning a bachelor's degree in accounting, I worked for a sales training firm in Ohio before moving to Florida with my husband. There, I worked in accounting for a while before switching over to film and video production. I then worked as a production manager at the biggest post production facility in Central Florida. Then I helped my husband open our own production company and, later added an ecommerce company to sell production related products developed by my husband. This ecommerce company involved learning how to use Shopify, which is based on Ruby. Throughout this journey, I've handled the "grown-up" parts of our business, like filing taxes, licensing, permitting and accounting. This journey has also allowed me to hone my marketing skills and learn other skills required to promote and market service-base and product-based businesses.

Q: How has your experience been learning coding with Altcademy?

I've enjoyed my learning experience at Altcademy. Some parts of the course were straightforward for me due to my previous experience with coding, but other sections have been illuminating, revealing concepts and techniques that I had previously overlooked. That's been a pleasant surprise. I tried enrolling with Coursera, but I found their approach too theoretical and slow-paced. Altcademy's hands-on approach has been more beneficial for me.

Q: What are your ambitions for the future?

I'd like to draw on my coding skills and business knowledge to help small businesses. Many small business owners know they need websites and an online presence, but they're often intimidated by the process. My goal is to function as a guide, helping them build and manage their websites, to optimize them for search engines, and even assist them with other business needs, by leveraging my business background and marketing experience.

Q: Any advice for those looking to learn coding?

One vital tip I’d give is to remember that it's okay not to know everything. As a professional developer, there will always be moments when you can’t recall certain language syntax or commands, and you will have to Google these things regularly. The key is understanding the core concepts and abstract methodologies that can be applied across various languages and platforms.

In conclusion, Donna’s story of how she cultivated a passion for coding while managing her businesses with her husband showcases that it's never too late to learn new skills and change your professional trajectory. With her dedication to her learning and problem-solving skills as well as her determination to help others through her newfound capabilities, she's set for an exciting journey ahead in the world of tech.

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