The long version: I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, but since 2005 I've called the Pacific Northwest home. After spending over 10 years in Washington State I moved to PDX in 2016. I hope I never have to leave.
In college I studied Mandarin Chinese and spent a total of nine months living in Taichung, Taiwan, and Beijing and Fuzhou, China. I’m rusty now, but at the time I was pretty good – apparently my tonal pronunciation was quite accurate. Besides acquiring the ability to speak a new language, studying Chinese also taught me a lot of important lessons about how to be a better learner, including:
- something that initially feels uncomfortable can become second nature with enough practice
- grounding in solid patterns of speech (or code!) can get you through most situations
- don't let self-consciousness be a barrier to trying something new – from vulnerability comes growth
Oh, and I once spent the night in a guard tower on the Great Wall of China. So that was pretty cool.
Professionally, my career to date has been quite diverse. I started off as a commercial real estate photographer at an enterprise software company; then I did a complete 180 and taught 9th grade World History at a small, outdoor education-focused middle school. Teaching wasn’t the perfect fit but I knew I still wanted to be in education, so I spent the next several years doing finance and operations at a variety of education-focused nonprofits. My experience in this field culminated in my role as a program analyst with Highline Public Schools, where I maintained a budget database that covered over $30 million annually in state, federal and private funding for high-need schools and students.
Throughout this stage of my career, one theme became increasingly clear: I loved creating and maintaining systems to make my organization deliver its service more efficiently and effectively, but the tools we used were often not up to the task. I searched for a mental framework that would help me analyze challenges and propose solutions that benefitted the user, and I found it in User Experience. Studying UX at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle, attending Design Thinking workshops through work, and testing out UX principles on projects at work was incredibly exciting: finally I had a vocabulary for constructively critiquing and prototyping improvements to workflows, business tools and their resulting effects on the user. But one piece was still missing: I lacked the skills to personally create a better type of tool or process.
So, I left my job and embarked on the path upon which I now walk: becoming a developer. To acquire modern web development skills I joined Code Builders, a six month intensive web development bootcamp based in Seattle. You can read more about Code Builders on my portfolio page. After wrapping up Code Builders I moved down to Portland where I’ve interned at an ad agency and worked on projects to sharpen my skills. My mission is still to help make effective, beautiful user-facing tools that measurably help users tackle practical challenges in their daily lives. If you’ve read this far, then I suspect you may share this goal – if so, get in touch and let’s talk about working together!