Home People Tech Talent: This DigitalCrafts Graduate Is Following Her Family’s Path into Tech

Tech Talent: This DigitalCrafts Graduate Is Following Her Family’s Path into Tech

by Muriel Vega

For Merilee Wheelock, a career in technology was meant to be — both of her parents are programmers. After a stint as a clinical lab project manager, where coordinating client-facing deliverables inspired her to take her tech skills to the next level, she joined DigitalCrafts immersive full-stack program.

“Given how much I rely on computers in my day to day, learning to code seemed like an excellent fundamental skill to pursue, since all industries rely on the internet for research and communication,” says Wheelock.

In a few short weeks, this young programmer will graduate and be ready to put those new fundamental skills to work. Wheelock wants to join a team that prioritizes mentorship and where she can stretch her React Native muscles while learning a little more about app development. Here’s more on this junior programmer.

What program are you graduating from?

I will be graduating from a 16-week immersive full-stack coding bootcamp at DigitalCrafts in Atlanta, GA in August 2017.

What is your previous education?

I graduated in 2011 from the Georgia Institute of Technology with my B.S. in Psychology.

What cool tech projects have you worked on?  

In my coding bootcamp, I have worked on a website called cycSlope, which is a route planning web application for users who are looking to choose their bicycle routes based on elevation change. This was my first complete full-stack project, so it was quite an adventure using Express and tackling the Google Maps API. We are about to enter three weeks of group projects, where I plan to use React as my front-end tool to build an e-commerce site.

What tools are essential to you as a developer?

Google… thank you, Google. I would be remiss not to give specific credit to Stack Overflow for its community’s answers to every question I have ever had related to coding. I have also relied heavily on Google Chrome’s wonderful Inspect feature to do most of my debugging. As for frameworks, I add Bootstrap to every project (almost before I even name the site).

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

I follow several tech companies and well known programmers on social media, and they usually do a good job of keeping me up to date on tech news in 140 characters or less. I rely heavily on my Slack channels, both for DigitalCrafts and for the Tech404 community. Tech404 has been great for general Atlanta tech news, job opportunities, and local meetups. The DigitalCrafts channel is where I usually learn about tech-related breaking news through various memes.

What are your best technical or creative skills?

Organization and general aesthetic awareness. I have always been organized — I like things to be clean and to make sense. I have made it a point when coding to keep my code and my file structure organized; even if it takes a bit of extra time upfront, I know I will be thankful when I am reviewing the same code weeks from now. I keep the same mindset when developing the styles for a site. I am no graphic designer, but I do try to make my sites clean and visually appealing, with a layout and navigation that makes sense to the user.

What’s next on your list to learn?

I am interested in learning about app development and would like to learn React Native (after I fine tune my React skills, of course!)

Why the interest in the technology field?

My parents are both programmers, so I have been exposed to the tech world from an early age. Although I did not pursue a tech degree early in my education or career, I have always been interested in technology. After graduating from Georgia Tech, I spent five years working in project management at a central laboratory, where I spent every day at a computer trying to keep a team of people organized. I realized in this job that, as a project manager, I was always relying on other departments or members of my team to use their skills to complete work to be provided to the client. While I was the face of the company to the client and the organizer of meetings, I felt that I had to have a few actual skills myself. 

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

I am interested in working at a company that understands the importance of mentorship, and will encourage me to continue to learn and grow beyond this coding bootcamp. A good workplace culture is important to me, and I will be happy as long as I feel valued and respected at the company.

Interested in looking at Merilee’s credentials? Check out her website, Githuband LinkedIn.

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