Monday, February 27, 2017

The sorrow of being a student web-programmer with little to no support

In October, I took a part time position as a student web developer.  I haven't really touched Python Programming or any web development in almost two years.  I know the concepts, and I can pick things up rather fast, and I had the confidence to fulfill the task.  Four months later, I realized how over-my-head I am in tasks.  As a full-time student with a full-time assistantship, I was crazy to even add another 20 hour a week job into my hectic schedule.  However, I was determined to fit this in my planner mostly because I wanted the foot in the door as well as the experience.
I have the skillset to do this job.  It's basic Python Programming, Web Development in Flask, and version control using github.  What I didn't know: server management, mobile application development, and coding in Google Earth Engine.  I have taken over the position of a person who created a web application with an API and a mobile app from scratch.  I knew going in that the project was pretty well maintained, and I knew I could get started as long as I had guidance.  The only thing I was missing was the guidance.  The person before me left little to no documentation on the project.  I also didn't know much about servers and SSL certificates to know that they could expire.  I also didn't know that servers might need to be manually restarted if they go down.  Taking over someone's project in any field can be tedious and frustrating.  Not knowing what was going on in the person's head and what their intentions were causes the person taking over the project grief.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on this project, but I feel like I'm letting the team down.  Sometimes, I reach roadblocks.  Currently, I am trying to display coordinates on the map page, and I've spent hours reading plugins and trying to implement them in the project--- only to realize that the person used angular-leaflet for the project, so now I'm starting back at square one.
I have already learned a lot from this project.  And one main thing that I learned is that I don't think I can do a web programming job without help.  Yes, I've consulted the mighty Google and yes, I've asked friends, but sometimes that doesn't help.
I'm mostly venting and ranting on this because I've pretty much been asked if this is something I want to do full-time.  Though I love the idea of having a full-time position with an awesome organization in an amazing City, I don't think I have the necessary skill set to continue.  What I mean is that I cannot do this job by myself which frustrates me.  I'm a type of person that hates asking for help.  I like to figure things out on my own.  But I've reached the point that now I have to ask a friend or consult Google for the answer. And if they don't have an answer, I'm up shit-creek. And Lord help me if the website goes down-- my inbox gets flooded as I'm trying to find the answer.  I've reached the point where I just ignore them because I'm just trying to fix the issue.

As a Type A, I want to take this full time position because I'll have a job in the place that I want to live.  Knowing that I have this safety net is nice.  As an ISTP, I also crave intense, spontaneous excitement-- this means that I like to live on the edge and hope for the best.  I also get nervous and ask myself "What if I cannot find a job in my field?", but I also remind myself that the universe does everything for a reason.

In conclusion, I am very fortunate to have a part-time for a cool project for an awesome organization in an amazing City.  The pay is pretty nice, and I would be offered full time benefits, and I get to travel twice a year.  HOWEVER, I'm not happy.  I enjoy learning new things, but I cannot learn anything new on my own.  I get frustrated and give up to easily.  In addition, I'd rather be doing more GIS or remote sensing analysis.  I don't want to rule out programming entirely, but if I were in a different environment, I could probably grow with it.

Here's to trying to find a full-time job in my field.  Fingers crossed that it is in Flagstaff.  If not, I'm open to move elsewhere.
/rant over.