Home People Tech Talent: Hiker-Turned-Programmer Looks For A Diverse Company As Her Next Challenge

Tech Talent: Hiker-Turned-Programmer Looks For A Diverse Company As Her Next Challenge

by Muriel Vega

Aylin DeBruyne‘s itch for adventure has taken her to the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, Spain’s Camino de Santiago, Turkey and New Zealand to conquer some impressive long-distance hiking challenges. Upon returning from her work sabbatical, she knew she wanted to share her newly-acquired hiking knowledge with others.

“These wilderness episodes have inspired me to share my knowledge of the outdoors and offer to help everyone — particularly other women — connect with nature and, thanks to my psychology training, with themselves,” says DeBruyne.

That’s why she took on yet another challenge: Joining the DigitalCrafts‘ Full Stack Immersive Program. She dove right in with a project to create a web app that provides users a list of hikes based on their location. Now, nearing the end of her bootcamp stint, she’s looking for a diverse team that prioritizes inclusion and mentorship for her next challenge. Learn more about this outdoorsy junior programmer below.

What is your previous education?

Originally hailing from our nation’s capital, I attended George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where I received my undergraduate degree in psychology.

Why the interest in the technology field?

My passion is taking on new challenges, which is why I entered the exciting field of web development. I see the opportunity to use technology as a bridge to outdoor exploration through online tutorials and providing other informational tools and resources.

When I first entered web development, it immediately reminded me of my very first solo backpacking experience; I recognized I had a lot to learn, but I quickly found fulfillment in the creative aspect of coding along with achieving the satisfaction that results from problem solving.

What projects have you worked on?

I have had the opportunity to work on two group projects (so far) at DigitalCrafts. The first project, R.A.D. hiking, is a web app created to help users find a list of hikes based on their location. It was created using HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, jQuery and three APIs.

The second project, QuizMe!, is a Node.js/Express server-rendered application, targeted for new programmers to practice their knowledge of the ever-evolving concepts, languages and algorithms of the tech world. Handlebars partials are used to render the front-end views and quiz data is stored in a PostgreSQL database. I’m really looking forward to building an app using React, which we are currently working on.

What tech or tools are essential to you as a developer?

I am a huge fan of using Trello and Slack when it comes to project management and communication. Both teams I worked on made a point to also push/pull from Github at least once a day so our information would be up to date. It made collaboration much smoother.

I also really like some of the extensions for Visual Studio Code, like rainbow brackets, that help me catch my syntax errors faster. I can scan over my code and find mistakes a lot quicker. And of course, lots and lots of coffee.

How do you stay on top of emerging trends?

I’ve found Meetups and talking to my peers to be essential. There are a lot of buzzwords that get thrown around in tech, and if I haven’t heard of it before, I’ll ask someone to explain it. If it’s a language, library or framework I haven’t heard of, I usually try to read documentation on it or find a YouTube tutorial on it. I feel like I question everything, but this gives me a better foundation to recognize and reinforce certain things that will hopefully set me up for success in the future.

There are some great Slack channels (Women Who Code, Tech 404, DigitalCrafts), where I can tap into shared blog posts or articles about new tools and technologies.

What are your best technical or creative skills?

I really enjoy being involved in every aspect of projects, but I’ve found a lot of enjoyment in working in back end. Even though I may be a stronger developer on the front end, I really enjoyed the challenge of building a server-rendered application. Solving the problems took longer, but the celebration was more rewarding when we figured it out.

Creatively, I try to turn every concept into an analogy. I don’t come from a technical background, so the way I understand and learn concepts has to be transformed into the form of a story. This not only helps me recall and root in the concepts, but it also helps me explain what the heck it is that I do to my friends and family.

What’s next on your list to learn?

All the things! I feel like I’m buying Udemy courses left and right to try and get a grasp on this new world I’ve entered. I’m curious about learning more about mobile development, so I’d like to learn more about Swift and/or Java. I’d also really like to build a couple of IoT projects for fun.

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

The size of the company isn’t important. I want to work for a company that shares my values in encouraging mentorship, embracing diversity and inclusion, and empowers their employees and their teams. The culture and people are more important than how big the work environment is. Lastly, it wouldn’t hurt if they had good sense of humor!

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

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