your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 46: Let’s meet Sara Regan

It’s Spotlight Friday and I’m very excited to publish this interview with Junior developer and Skillcrush Tutor: Sara Regan. I first met Sara during the Rails Girls Organizer Weekend in Helsinki (which was such an awesome weekend!) and I think she’s truly inspiring. Thank you Sara for this great interview :)

Sara Regan is a Junior Developer and Skillcrush Tutor. Passionate about helping newcomers find their place in the world of code, and one half of the Juniors are Awesome team.

Name: Sara Regan
Job: Freelancer for fun, Skillcrush Tutor, Junior Web Developer @ Marleyspoon
Favourite website, app or gadget: Mozilla Developer Network or CSS-Tricks, and all newsletters with digests of links to interesting things? :)
Favourite Book: ‘I, Robot‘ would be one of my top ones. Of all time is difficult to say because I’m usually just completely enamoured with whatever I’m currently reading.
Twitter: @sareg0 and I can also be found tweeting juicy junior dev related articles via @jrsareawesome
Site: You can look up my GitHub profile though or go take a look at Juniors are Awesome, a project I work on with Tam Eastley to encourage and support juniors.

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
Well I was a bit aimless post University. I loved studying, but life after Uni was a bit of a reality check as an International Relations grad. I travelled and worked in a number of companies doing a variety of jobs, and then I finally did a Rails Girls workshop in 2012. I haven’t really thought to look back since. It’s been a life-changing thing for me being a part of the Rails Girls community, and has led to job opportunities, lots of conferences and wonderful friendships I would never have made otherwise. Learning to program has been one of the most challenging things I have ever undertaken, but being a part of a wonderful community makes all the difference.

Learning to program has been one of the most challenging things I have ever undertaken, but being a part of a wonderful community makes all the difference.

What does your working day look like?
Well, because I am currently a freelancer and I work remotely it’s a real mixed bag.
First and foremost… Coffee.

A usual workday start time is 10am, and then I get to posting homework for students at Skillcrush, then check support tickets that have come in overnight (because I’m up when my American colleagues are hopefully sleeping). Then I’ll jump into answering all the questions that students have asked during my ‘offline’ period about their course work on the forum.


Generally after that I will do my freelance client work. Most projects are a lot of messing with CSS, and explaining things to clients, but sometimes I get bigger projects, and I will build a project with Rails, which involves more hard-core googling and a lot of concentration. Sometimes I will have live Class Events in the evening for Skillcrush.

My work changes really often, so that’s the schedule I had last week. Maybe next week it will be different.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Well! Programming wise I had the chance to work as a freelancer for Daily Worth on a really cool project. It involved doing a lot of research and pushing past my comfort zone of my current skills. They were featured in the Atlantic and New York Times for it, and I was so proud to have been a part of it.

Community wise, I worked on the Rails Girls Summer of Code with an incredible bunch of people in 2015. The program aims to help more women contribute to Open Source by providing scholarships to code on an Open Source project for 3-months. It was transformative for me to be a part of, and I really encourage people to contribute/apply/put in their open source projects for the 2016 edition!

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
I can’t think of just one. I have quite a few, and most of them are in my Rubycorns group… They would be terribly embarrassed to
see me give their names, but they know who they are ;)

I am super inspired by women who make things and/or make things happen… So basically all the people interviewed on CodePancake ;)

Why do you love working in IT/Tech?
I have been asked this question a lot, and I always struggle to answer it. I don’t 100% know. I feel like working in tech has helped me define my relationship with the technology around me, and harness it to create changes I want to see in the world e.g. by starting online communities for like-minded people, building software to solve problems. What makes me want to STAY working in tech is the efforts made by people to make it a great, supportive place to be :)

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I do not… I actually failed Web application development at university O_O . I feel like now that I am becoming a more proficient developer I am more interested in the theoretical side. I am sure there are plenty of concepts I don’t know that are covered in a degree program. Maybe one day I will study computer science, but right now it has not been a barrier for me… In fact, my non-tech degree has probably been my biggest asset as it gave me a lot of the communication skills I needed to build relationships that got me jobs… Never undervalue the ‘soft skills’.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)
Focus on something small and tangible, like small projects for yourself or others. There are sooooo many resources out there that it can be hard to focus.

My next piece of advice is DON’T LISTEN TO ANYBODY’S ADVICE! Well, at least advice with all the bias and context the advisor might have, and form your own opinion. You know yourself and your goals best ;)

Extra question from Charlotte: What is your favourite emoji?
Anyone that resembles my face when stumped by a tough challenge, or the shrug ASCII… I guess it’s not an emoji per se, but it expresses the exact emotions I feel 99% of the time as a programmer :)

O_O / ¯\_(ツ)_/¯