Tech Talent: From Corporate to Coding, This Programmer Is Following Her Mom’s Footsteps Into Tech

Thanks to her computer-savvy mother, Beth D’Amato grew up surrounded by technology, from playing Pong on a Tandy TRS-80 computer to watching her mom earn her associate’s degree in computing.

After taking a slight detour into acting, earning her degree in theatre, D’Amato joined the corporate ladder as an executive assistant while she looked for acting gigs. The move proved to be formative, as she started supporting development teams and learning more about the importance of emotional intelligence in companies.

“I never planned on being an executive assistant for as long as I did, but it was a natural outlet for my organizational tendencies, and I was very comfortable with the multi-tasking aspect,” says D’Amato. “Employers were happy to throw me a few stretch assignments when I asked for them: code checking or QA testing when my primary tasks were finished. My strong technical skills and professional polish won me just about every administrative job I applied for.”

D’Amato joined DigitalCrafts Full-Stack Immersion Program to expand those skills and update her knowledge on current coding languages to go after that career in technology. Read on to learn more about this passionate junior programmer and why she’s the adaptive addition that your team has been looking for.

What is your previous education?

I graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor of arts in theatre and film.

Why the interest in the technology field?

My mother is really fundamental to my enthusiasm about computers and programming. I still remember her bringing home the Tandy TRS-80 computer — my sister and I played Pong on it for hours hoping to avoid chores. A few years later, I’m writing my high school papers on the unibody MacIntosh where she worked then. She too went back to school later in her life and earned an associate’s degree in computing; big languages at that time were Pascal and C++. While I was out West trying to get an audition, she and I would talk about her frustration as a county clerk trying to convince conservative farmers that electronic voting was safe and soon-to-be standard.

She was lovingly skeptical about me becoming famous as an actor but there was no doubt in her mind I’d have a steady income in technology. Today, we have the neatest conversations about modules and frameworks — she is fascinated by NPM’s package library and with Vue.js.

What tech projects have you worked on?

Prior to DigitalCrafts, I used Adobe Dreamweaver to build static web pages for friends and I made a personal page with Wix. Ultimately, using those WYSIWYG tools made me feel like I was cheating somehow. I wanted to have more control on what I put on the screen and how.

Now that we’re close to the end of the bootcamp, I have worked on two group projects; soon to start a third. The first project is a front-end application similar to Airbnb, where my team used several open-source APIs, Materialize (CSS framework) and Javascript. The second application, my project partner and I created a flashcard app to help users learn programming terms, concepts and algorithms — Node.js, Express, Handlebars, PostgreSQL were among the tools we incorporated.

What tools are essential to you as a developer?

Debugging code has come a looooong way! Who hasn’t spent over 20 minutes looking for that semicolon? I couldn’t live without my copy of Visual Studio Code editor (yay, “Bracket Pair Colorizer”) or the DevTools in Google Chrome’s browser — Node.js and React even have panels. I’m a huge fan of Postico to help me set up my SQL database tables correctly (or maybe I just like it for the nod to my Sicilian heritage.)

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

Slack is a great way to consolidate your individual info streams. It’s true that tools are only as good as those who maintain them. The technology workspaces I subscribe to are always current on the latest in- and out-of-town opportunities.

I recently stumbled upon edX, Harvard University’s free online courses. They have a really thorough Computer Science tract that I am going to supplement my DigitalCrafts experience with.

What are your best technical or creative skills?

As a seasoned corporate assistant, I understood that it was essential to continually value and develop a strong emotional intelligence. I welcome peer reviews as a chance to learn and improve, not taken as a judgement of who I am personally. Rather than being a slave to my emotions, I’ve learned to tactfully express myself to colleagues, connect with them and provide productive feedback of my own.

Similarly, I welcome the opportunity to collaborate with diverse groups of individuals. I am extremely comfortable serving as a liaison between senior leadership and staff — authenticity is key. Above all, I sincerely believe in the adage of “do what you say, say what you do.”

What’s next on your list to learn?

The very first language we started learning four months ago was Python. It might as well have been Greek! I struggled in the syntax and logic and tried to quickly move past it so I could be ‘comfortable’ in something familiar like HTML/CSS. What a mistake. Python is so foundational for Linux-leaning developers and doesn’t seem as mysterious now that I’m working primarily with Javascript. At the very least, it’s worth the revisit to build another PyGame.

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

I have been employed by each type of company and they all have their positives and negatives. It is really more important to me that a company wants to invest in my development as much as I want to give my best for their development. I am very proud of the time and money I’ve put into my new career. Finding the right culture fit and pursuing mentorship offerings would be great rewards for those efforts.

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