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#STEMStories: Tae'lur, Front-End Engineer, USA

1. Say hi :) who are you what do you do?

My name is Tae'lur Alexis, I am a Front-End Engineer born and raised in San Diego, California but now currently based in Seattle, Washington. My role is in charge of making the user experience accessible and effortless. I've been a professional developer for close to 7 months now. Prior to the transition into tech, I was working a variety of retail and fast food jobs.

2. How did you arrive at this career? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I was never exposed to Computer Science or STEM in general as a child. I struggled with math so I'm sure no one ever saw this path as a legitimate option for me. It started when I found Khan Academy and was able to catch up on the math I struggled with in high school fairly quickly. That's when I realised that I learn best at my own pace and when it's driven out of desire, not necessity. I found my way to Codecademy, learned the basics of Python and web development and fell in love with building projects off of Udemy. The reason I chose front end development as my primary focus was because of the ability to combine technical aptitude with my sense of creativity to build a user experience with a purpose. I don't have a college degree so I was doubtful that making the change into tech would be successful but I started promoting my work on Twitter and building a following based off of my transparency about my self taught journey and willingness to help others. It eventually caught the attention of employers.

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?

I love that in this industry, you will always be able to learn different technologies and manifest whatever you visualize in your mind with code. I remind myself of how far I've come and it makes me get out of bed.

4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

I will be 100% honest with you, I still struggle with that at times. The fact of the matter is all of us deal with varying degrees of imposter syndrome, where we doubt our work. What I do is rest and reflect. My stress is usually rooted in a mixture of lack of sleep and lots of anxiety.

5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

My role model is Stephanie Hurlburt. She is the Co-Founder of a successful image compression company here in Seattle. What makes her my role model is that she is so genuine and pure with her intentions. She stands by what she says. She was there for me during the most difficult challenges I've ever faced in my career & actively supports young women in the industry. She also is transparent about the importance of mental health which is so critical, especially in an industry that can be high-stress. She has a wealth of knowledge regarding salary negotiation and knowing your worth to founding your own start-up (what what I am working on next year 😏), networking and overall finding the balance between your career and social life as well. She's become such a close friend and there's not a day that goes by that I don't look up to her. Especially since I am 3000 miles away from my own family, she's become like a sister to me.

6. What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

The advice I would give to my 18 year old self would be to live it honestly. I needed to go through the trials and tribulations I went through as a teenager in order to develop the character, depth, and hustler mentality that I have now. If everything went perfect and as planned, then I wouldn't be as driven to build and help others as I do now.

7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? 

  • Stay consistent - The key to bettering your craft is consistency. I highly recommend dedicating time and effort to what you want to do in order to get what you ultimately want.
  • Learn to not care early on - The work in STEM can reign and take precedence over every other aspect of your life. Try not to let that happen. Study hard and strive to accomplish every goal you set, but also try to have a healthy social life as well as time for yourself. Please keep this in mind as you ascend up the ladder and make moves. Do not attach your self-worth to your work.
  • Maintain a work/life balance - The work in STEM can reign and take precedence over every other aspect of your life. Try not to let that happen. Study hard and strive to accomplish every goal you set, but also try to have a healthy social life as well as time for yourself. Please keep this in mind as you ascend up the ladder and make moves. Do not attach your self-worth to your work. 

8. How do you measure your success?

My success is measured by my ability to get what I want done and realising my value.

 9. Where can we find out more about your work?

I tweet about the work I do every day on Twitter. I am currently building a platform for self-taught developers to bookmark and share resources as well as find study partners. The goal of the site is to be a resource for self-taught developer and provide what I would have wanted when I was starting out! I'll release the MVP soon so interested users can sign up and stay updated on the progress. I'll also be producing content for Egghead in the beginning of next year and it will be related to interview prep and how to utilise social media to build an online brand as a developer and land the role that you want. So watch out for that in 2019 and stay updated on Twitter!

10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you?

Yes, I live on Twitter! But if Twitter isn't your thing, hit me up on LinkedIn or Facebook! I'm always available to connect with and help women and girls.

Twitter: @TaelurAlexis

LinkedIn: Tae'lur Alexis

Facebook: Tae'lur Alexis