Home People Tech Talent: This Junior Programmer Wants to Improve Social Work Processes With Tech

Tech Talent: This Junior Programmer Wants to Improve Social Work Processes With Tech

by Muriel Vega

After working within the social work sector, Ashley Parker saw the technology gaps within the child welfare system that often create inefficiencies and slow down essential paperwork and internal processes. After dipping her toes into coding on her own — and enjoying it — Parker joined the DigitalCrafts 16-week Full-Stack Immersive Program to take her self-taught skills to the next level and think up a solution to increase productivity in her professional sector. 

This diving enthusiast is now looking for a company of any size but with solid values for her to grow within. Read below about how Parker’s combining her philanthropy background with her coding projects and why she’s challenging herself to reading a Medium post a day.

What is your previous education?

I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work and have worked in child welfare for the past 10 years, so this is definitely a complete career change for me. However, the values that drew me to social work are also present in development — I love the idea of creating products to make people’s lives better.

Why the interest in the technology field?

As a social worker, I constantly saw ways that my practice could be improved through technology. The clients I worked with on a daily basis were familiar and adept with technology, yet these were underutilized as a clinical tool. I began teaching myself to code with the idea of building applications to address these gaps. I also became interested in software as a service.

In doing so, I found that I really enjoyed coding and decided to make the transition into full-time development. I have not regretted my decision — I have loved every second!

What tech projects have you worked on?

Throughout the bootcamp, we had the opportunity to create numerous individual and group projects as we have learned new skills. The first front-end project I completed with my group linked potential volunteers to local charities. It was created using only HTML, CSS and JavaScript. For a full-stack project, we integrated node.js and PostgreSQL to create an application that assists new developers in preparing for technical interviews. I am interested in working on an IoT project and hope to integrate this during my capstone project.

What tools are essential to you as a developer?

Code reviews have been essential in my learning experience; I have gained so much both from reading and evaluating other people’s work to receiving needed feedback on my own. GitHub has been invaluable for storing all of my projects. It has also been great to look back through my repositories and see my progression. I also appreciate the fact that the DigitalCrafts’ bootcamp is full-stack; I feel that I have enough knowledge about both to be able to effectively work in either area.

How do you stay informed and on-top of emerging trends?

I have started writing on Medium to reinforce some of the skills that I have learned and have made a goal to read at least one post from Medium or other publisher per day. I frequently attend local meetups to learn new ideas and new trends. I also love Slack for keeping up-to-date with the community — my favorite channels are tech404, Women Who Code ATL and of course DigitalCrafts!

What are your best technical or creative skills?

I love working and collaborating with teams and have often been called on to help develop teams in my previous life. During DigitalCrafts’ bootcamp, the group projects were some of my favorite experiences. I enjoy seeing people’s ideas come together to create something amazing.  

On the front-end, I have enjoyed working with React and have recently incorporated Redux into my projects. It is almost magical how flexible and fast it is. For the back-end, I enjoyed the challenge of creating something that would flow seamlessly with the front-end user experience. 

What’s next on your list to learn?

I enjoy diving in my spare time and I feel that development is like the ocean: the deeper I dive into it, the deeper I want to go! There are constantly new things to learn and use and it presents a challenge every time. I have focused a lot on functional programming through Javascript and would like to strengthen my knowledge of object-oriented programming through Ruby.

Are you interested in working for a startup, mid-sized company, or a corporate giant?

I have worked with companies of varying sizes in the past and am open to new experiences, no matter what form they come in. To me, the most important thing is working with a company with clear-cut values and a great team atmosphere.

Interested in looking at Ashley’s credentials? Here you go! PortfolioGitHub, and LinkedIn.

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