How to Stay Technically Busy During a Literal Pandemic

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

As I approach my ninth week in quarantine, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what I have done to navigate through these unclear times. For the first time since I was 15, I finally have the time to do the things that I want to do and need to focus on to work towards my career goals. Having, what seems to be, an unlimited amount of time was actually more scary to me than when I had to find little bits of time in between working full time and school. That was the schedule that I was accustomed to. Now that we are over two months in, I found the flow that works for me and am busier, with a more rewarding sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

Study, Study, Study

It should be obvious to any developer trying to obtain their first role or even just a new tech position, that studying and practicing your craft will bring you success. School makes learning easier because you have instructors and a clear, straight path to follow to the end. Now that I completed my coding bootcamp, I had to discipline myself even more than online learning already required. From some light research and the advice of my peers, I started out by buying the book, “Cracking the Coding Interview.” This book came highly recommended to aid in passing technical interviews and it is quite a long read. I’m a few chapters in, but it is taking me a long time to get through it since I am also studying the chapter subjects ahead of trying out the questions to make sure I’m prepared to even read the book itself!

Besides that, I have made a few accounts online to help with technical challenges as well. Like a lot of my peers, I am now on Hackerrank, LeetCode, and Hacker Wars. On these sites, you have the ability to test yourself on multiple languages and the problem sets you take on get harder as you pass test after test. Not a bad way to spend your time.

In one of my previous posts, I spoke about participating in virtual hackathons which I highly recommend. They are a real world way for me to practice my skills on the fly and have made me a faster coder as well due to the time constraint aspect. It’s also nice to be part of a community of people and feels like an escape from being holed up in my house all the time.

Take Free Courses

In my last post, I wrote about courses that are available for free, some specifically because of the Corona Virus. This is something that I believe that everybody should be taking advantage of. Whether you’re a developer or not, there is something out there for everybody to enhance their lives and now we all have the rare opportunity of time itself. I’m taking full advantage, but of course, the classes I have my focus on are developer-related. Specifically, I am taking AWS Machine Learning, Python Fundamentals, React Native, and also added a JPMorgan Chase Virtual Internship. If you want the links to those first 3 courses, please see my previous post.

Exercise the Body to Clear the Mind

Just as we use our minds everyday, working out your body is important to keep stress levels down. Unlike most people I know, I am lucky in that I have always preferred working out at home to going to the gym. I’ve tried out gym memberships and I might as well have just thrown my money directly into the trash than towards membership fees. Lesson learned. Now that there is no choice but to workout from home, I suggest getting some minimal equipment that won’t break the bank to keep yourself physically challenged throughout the week. Sitting up from the couch doesn’t count. What I personally like doing myself is weightlifting routines that I follow through subscription apps. Besides weightlifting, I also occasionally do Vinyasa yoga which makes me sweat sometimes more than lifting weights does. It also clears my mind and gives me feelings of peace and calmness that I desperate need when anxiety starts to take over.

Start Networking

LinkedIn is my best friend now. No other app has been able to connect me with so many different people from all over the world in such a short time. I have gotten resume advice, interviewing tips, and extra resources from great people that want to help their peers. Getting help from these people that I barely know has inspired me to do the same and pass along the positivity. We need each other now, more than ever. Along with LinkedIn, I’ve started to join virtual meetups and have been surprised by how much I have enjoyed them and its not just because of the quarantine. If you can, try finding groups to join on platforms like Eventbrite, Meetup, Slack, or even Discord.

We all need to stay sharp and keep advancing our skills, even when it might not feel like there is a point to it all. There will be an end to this pandemic, and I plan on coming out a better developer, with a new job. Let me know what you have done to stay busy and if you have found this useful at all!

Full Stack Software Engineer | manda.m.johnson@gmail.com

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