Home People Tech Talent: This Artist-Turned-Programmer Looks to Give Back With Her New Skills

Tech Talent: This Artist-Turned-Programmer Looks to Give Back With Her New Skills

by Muriel Vega

Liz Aitken has always had a knack for seeing and analyzing things in a different way. The Studio Art major was drawn to building things and solving problems, but didn’t see herself or those skills fitting into the tech industry.

“Growing up, I always thought the technology field was for a specific type of person, and I just assumed that I wasn’t one of those people,” says Aitken.

That is, until she worked on her art website and started to learn coding skills on her own. She enrolled in DigitalCrafts‘ Full-Stack Immersive program and was quickly attracted to the work and the tech community.

Aitken, who wants to work at a company that prioritizes philanthropic efforts, is presenting her React application to facilitate non-profit donations at the DigitalCrafts’ Demo Day this month. Get to know her as she shares her next project, which will connect her with family members around the world.

Why the interest in the technology field?

I was creating a new website for my artwork from a third-party site and needed to code a bit to achieve my desired result.  Through that, I ended up falling down the rabbit hole that led me to DigitalCrafts and the desire to learn and build as much as I can.

It is an incredible field with a lot of potential for growth. Although it seems independent at first glance, in order to improve and build great things, collaboration is incredibly important in the tech community.

What tech projects have you worked on?

While at DigitalCrafts, I have had the pleasure of working on various projects, including a website called Traveling Tails. It optimizes traveling with one’s dog by locating pet-friendly locations around them. We accomplished this using a couple of different Google APIs.

One of my favorite projects to work on was an organizational application for non-profits. When I held the position of project manager, one of our pain points was organizing and updating our constantly-changing data, so I thought it would be great to build a tool to help with that. We used Express, PostgreSQL, and NodeJS.

What tools are essential to you as a developer?

Chrome dev tools have been essential for debugging and being able to measure exactly what is going on.

Although more of a practice, consistent console logging and good documentation has saved me a lot of time finding where something has gone wrong. Another tool that has been really helpful for database planning (and feature planning) has been DBDesigner.

How do you stay on-top of emerging trends?

Apart from reading great Medium and TechCrunch articles, I also use the Apple News app on my phone and receive up-to-date technology reads from various different sources.

One of the best ways to stay current is to talk with other developers and see what they have discovered or what they are working on. Atlanta has a great tech Meetup scene, so I try to take advantage of it.

What are your best technical or creative skills?

I think I am very much a big picture person. Since I enjoy taking something abstract and putting it into existence, I excel when planning out a project and knowing where to begin when approaching a problem.

Due to my creative background as an artist, I may be more adept in the front-end and have a feeling for certain design aspects, but I very much enjoy working with databases. Determining what an application should do or anticipating what information a user might need is important in that process and I really like building those connections.

What’s next on your list to learn?

One of the ways that I love to learn is through projects. I have a list of ideas I would love to build while learning another language. I’m also interested in building hardware or using tools like a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino.

One fun project on my list is a digital picture frame that would update with photos from multiple users so that I can stay better connected to my family (we live all over the world).

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

Each size of company has its own merits and challenges, and I believe I would be able to learn and contribute to any of them. For me, it’s less about the size of the company and more about the way the dev teams are run.

As a junior developer, I know that guidance is important and would love to have the opportunity to collaborate with those more experienced than I. I’m also really interested in a company that emphasizes giving back to the world or a non-profit where I might be able to aid in its mission.

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

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