Lessons Learned While Learning Live

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Talking in front of an audience = scary. Learning something new = scary.
Let’s talk about doing scary learning something new, WHILE being in front of an audience!
One year and 100+ videos streamed, learning TypeScript the way I learn, has helped it click in a snowball effect helping other topics ranging from Python to APIs make more sense.
In this talk, the audience will walk away with an understanding of figuring out how you learn as an individual is a lifelong gift you never knew you needed. 

Jenn Junod
Jenn Junod
25 min
21 Sep, 2023


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Video Summary and Transcription

Learning something new is scary, but overcoming the fear of judgment and embracing patience and practice are key. Understanding learning techniques and the importance of continuous learning are essential in overcoming the fear of public speaking. Learning from podcasts and sharing clips can help in overcoming the paralysis of learning. Making mistakes is inevitable, but it is a part of the learning process. Discovering passion and finding the dream job can be a challenging journey. Learning styles, studying techniques, and embracing frustration are crucial in the learning journey. Typescript provides structure and tools for easier learning. Continuous growth and embracing uncertainty are important for personal development. Starting live streaming requires attention to gear and audio quality.

Available in Español

1. Overcoming Fear of Learning and Public Speaking

Short description:

Learning something new is scary. Talking in front of people is terrifying. Not knowing is not fun. To combat the fear, we need to understand the unknown and fear of judgment. Patience and practice are key.

Hello, hello beautiful humans. Welcome to Lessons Learned for Learning Live. Picture this. You're about to go on stage and tell people about an idea that you just learned. Or you're going on stage because you're about to learn from someone you've never met. What feelings are going on there? I'm curious. Because I know learning something new—scary. Not my favorite. I mean, it is my favorite, but it didn't used to be my favorite.

I never thought it would be that cool. Learning something new is very scary, talking in front of people, either it be to a screen or to a crowd of 10,000 people, behind the screen or in person, is terrifying. And also, uh, not knowing. Not knowing is not fun. Because there's this whole shame and sti—well, okay, we'll go through that another time. But it makes me go, um, I don't wanna do it. I don't wanna do it. It doesn't sound great. Then why would anybody do it? Why is it that scary? Like how do we combat this, the not fun part?

So, to understand the scariness, it's the fear of the unknown. It's a big part of it. It's We don't know what's gonna happen. We can't predict it, therefore our body doesn't know how to react. Fear of judgment. Dude, do I have a lipstick stuck around my teeth? Could you, could you tell me? If I do, I can't see myself right now. So y'all are gonna have to deal with it and you can judge me for it. It's okay. It's the human experience. Patience and practice. Patience and practice. This is really funny because this is my third time recording this talk and I'm excited to talk about the Q&A with you but I can tell you that my patience with inanimate objects is very small. But hey, I'm getting practice.

2. Physical Responses and Learning Techniques

Short description:

Physical responses, fear of failure, double-edged sword of public learning, understanding learning techniques, lessons from TypeScript, and the importance of continuous learning. Hi, I'm Jen Janon, a developer advocate at Ivan and host at tGN tech.

And then there's those physical responses. Literally your body doesn't know what to anticipate. It's that fight or flight or freeze or what are we doing and then you have the pressure to perform. Are you gonna do as good as last time? Are we gonna be able to outperform the other person? Are we gonna hit those numbers? Are we gonna close those sales? The pressure to perform.

And all of those for myself go to the fear of failure. Dude, what if nobody sees it? What if nobody comments? Oh gosh! What if I don't get it? These are all things that get stuck in my head almost every time before I start to strain.

And now? Ew! No, thank you. That's not fun. It doesn't sound fun. It doesn't sound fun. So let's talk about what we are gonna talk about today because there is some pretty cool things we're today like the double edged sword of public learning. Is it good or bad? Or is it both? Understanding your own learning techniques.

Okay, y'all, we're going to say this multiple times throughout this presentation, talk, whatever you want to call it. We're talking about learning techniques, also learning styles. I'm not saying that learning styles is an exact science. That is a debate for off this talk, but it is a great place for people, including myself, to get an idea of some avenues to go look into. And then we are at TypeScript Congress. So what are the lessons I learned from TypeScript and learning TypeScript? I'm excited about that one. And last but not least, continue to learn. Like what are we going to do to continue learning? It is so important.

Oh, and hey, by the way, my name is Jen Janon. Yay, sparkly jacket. It makes me happy. Even though this is a really old photo. I just happen to be wearing it again and it makes me happy. All right. I am a developer advocate at Ivan, who is the trusted open source data platform for everyone. It's actually pretty dope. So hit me up if you are curious about that kind of thing. Also tGN tech where I am the host that is helping break barriers by getting in learning to get into tech.

3. Learning, Podcasts, and Overcoming Fear

Short description:

Words and I. Learning from my podcast. Sharing clips. Paralysis of learning. Understanding the why. Fear doesn't go away. Welcome.

Wow. Words and I. We are friends sometimes, but that is where I go to learn things. And I also learned a lot from my podcast, Shit You Don't Want to Talk About. It is pretty dope because I have a lot of conversations about stuff people don't want to talk about or learn about or struggle with in all three areas of my life. It's pretty dope. And if you scan that barcode, it's to a link to link tree, you can connect with me, it'll have all of the information for the shows questions, all of that if you're curious about it.

But I know I know you're more curious about what's the good and learning live because like seriously, we're we're kind of struggling right now. In this next bit, I'm going to be sharing some clips that will help you see different bits of the stream and my experience learning. Like, there's good because you get to share knowledge. And this is a clip from my very, very first episode with eRae, where I didn't know the difference between I'm giggling because this was getting my journey, baby Jen of I didn't know the difference between HTML, CSS or JavaScript. And here's a quick clip. I think that's a big part of the paralysis too is it's like, if you start learning something and you're like, okay, so this teacher is showing you how to do it, yet they're talking at you because it's, you know, recorded, it's not virtual where you can learn with them. It's very difficult because when you go to Google things, then they're like, oh, you do it this way, this way, this way. And it's always, at least from a beginner standpoint, I'm just like, I don't know what you just said. I get that it might be a different way, but I don't know why and what it meant compared to, like what this specific lesson is talking about. Yeah, and I think that's one of the biggest challenges when you're self learning is understanding the why. And once you understand the why, then you can figure out, okay, this is the same thing, but in a different way because of X, Y, Z. But if you don't really get that why just yet, and the most difficult part is to learn why we're doing things a certain way, then it's tough. And that's why I do prefer there are learning groups and things like that where people learn these. I think that's a big part of the parallel too is if you started learning. I mean, as much as I learned from Yuri, these just kept coming up and having to learn and upcoming fear of mistakes. Okay, the fear didn't go away. It didn't go away at all. It just makes it slightly less scary. Even five episodes in with Anthony and this still happens. Well, welcome. Wow. Welcome. Wow.

4. Introduction and Mistakes

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Anthony, you're like the our very first episode. I totally butchered saying hello as well. Can I blame you for this? Must have jinxed you. I can't irritate you. Yes, welcome to teach. I really am keeping that clip forever if anybody asks, I'm saving it and it shows how I'm gonna make mistakes. It's gonna keep happening because I can't me and words don't always get along and it's gonna happen even in this next part where increased understanding and Jay is on the show to teach me about Python.

Anthony, you're like the our very first episode, I totally butchered saying hello as well. So can I blame you for this? Must have jinxed you. I can't irritate you. Yes, welcome to teach. Welcome. Wow. Wow. Anthony, you're like the our very first episode. I totally butchered saying hello as well. So can I blame you for this? Must have jinxed you. I can't irritate you. Yes, welcome to teach. I really am keeping that clip forever if anybody asks, I'm saving it and it shows how I'm gonna make mistakes. It's gonna keep happening because I can't me and words don't always get along and it's gonna happen even in this next part where increased understanding and Jay is on the show to teach me about Python. And y'all it's kind of clicking not clicking and but it's starting to.

5. Understanding True and False Values

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Understanding the logic of true and false values, the struggle of comprehending it, and the importance of self-discovery in learning.

So now let's do the same thing where we do in options, change true or true false to false false. Okay so now do you think it's gonna return true or false? True. Why? Because out at least one of them are false. No because any remember any is looking for at least one to be true. And since it's not using the word true therefore it's not true. Exactly it's false. Okay. Yeah and I mean we can run this and see like if you're you're false. Yeah like what you're saying makes sense I think it's just like saying true there will be a false there that is truthful. Yeah. Yeah um I still struggle with this. I definitely still struggle with all of it and yet it oddly somehow starts to make sense. It's it's it's it's interesting but we all have to figure out how we learn ourselves.

6. Finding Passion and Dream Job

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I had to figure out how to learn on my own. I tried different careers but didn't find fulfillment. After brain surgery and a detour to a new company, I took eight months to find my passion. I became a co-organizer of an API meetup and discovered my dream job as a developer advocate.

It's it's it's it's interesting but we all have to figure out how we learn ourselves. So a bit about how did I get here because you don't just like wake up one day and be like yo I'm gonna go learn live I mean some people might it may happen it didn't happen like that for me.

The first you know 30 years of my life uh yes I am an older millennial was a lot about I don't know what I want to do I was in sales for a bit that was fun but way too stressful. I was in tech support for a bit also fun didn't pay the bills that I needed. I also traveled and did other cool things and it was a lot of fun and then you know I get back from a trip and on my near 30s I'm like yo I want to do something about human connection and to do this I must learn videography. I got an internship at a a production studio pretty dope right except it cut all of my pay and then Covid hit and it was just a shit show that year.

So the end of 2020 I had brain surgery and then took a detour to a new company and it was super dope. I worked with APIs and had a lot of fun and between all of that I took eight months to try to figure out how to start shit you don't want to talk about. I mentioned that because that is a key time frame. Eight months, eight months! It took me eight months. It takes other people longer. It takes practice. The starting is the hardest part in my opinion. But what happened after that? What about 2022? I got laid off. And then I met the Denver API people because I used to live in Denver and they were like, yo, dude, come be an API Denver meetup co-organizer. I was like sweet. But they definitely did not sound like that. They are very French. All three of them that were the co-organizers at the time are all from France and my last name is French. I try to say that was why they let me become a co-organizer. They're not convinced, but story for another day. Ori, one of the co-organizers was like, yo, if you could be like describe your dream job. And I was like, you know seeing other people succeed advocating for them, making sure that things are accessible for those who can't normally get into understanding it or being able to have the same access. And he's like, and you like tech? I'm like, yeah, it's fun. It's always fun learning. It's like, yo, that's a developer advocate. I had a dream. It was like, I finally came up with something that I could work towards and a goal. And then I reached out to people. My bubble, my dream was a little busted.

7. Challenges in Getting a Job in DevRel

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You can't just wake up one day and get a job in DevRel. It takes a lot of work. The first three people I met told me that I needed content, tech knowledge, and coding skills. So I launched Teach Gen Tech to learn and connect with people who could teach me.

It was, it was like, oh, you can't just go get a job in DevRel. It's not just like you wake up one day and you can go get a job. No, no, it takes a lot of work. That's also another story for another day. But the first three people I met were like, yo, dude, you don't have content, you don't know the tech or know how to code, so you're probably not going to get a job here. Like you got the personality, but you got to have everything else to back it. And I was like, oh. Within a week, Teach Gen Tech was launched because I needed content. I needed to learn. And I started meeting people that were willing to teach me. Yay.

8. Learning Styles and Techniques

Short description:

Laura taught me Python and opened my eyes to the complexities of learning. Understanding learning styles, studying techniques like flashcards, and discovering productivity at different times of the day. Learning can be neurodivergent. Patience, practice, and embracing frustration are essential in the learning journey.

Then I met Laura. Laura is such a dope soul. She came on the show and started teaching me Python. And little did we know that there was much more that was going to go into learning than I ever imagined. Some of which being learning styles. As a previous math professor, she was teaching me how a lot of people don't get algebra. And I was like, really? And learning how we learn is such an important tool in our toolbox.

As a heads up, as we said earlier, these are learning styles. Go do your own homework on this. It's a good starting point. How to study. I honestly never knew how to do use flashcards. It was pretty cool. I dropped out of high school. You know, I winged it. I never actually learned how to keep up with it. And when are you productive? I didn't know that people were productive at different times of the day and not everybody can be a night owl or a morning bird. Is that an early bird? Why is the night owl an early bird? Can it be morning owl? Anyway, learning will be neurodivergent. Thank you to Wesley Faulkner, also taught me this during one of my first conversations with a devrel because I had no idea that I could be ADHD and dyslexic and learn to code. It was great. Patience and practice. Patience with myself. Still working on that one. Embrace the frustration. Yeah, this, like, no, no bro. Like I still struggle with this. Inanimate objects are not my friend. Majority of the time. I'm learning. We're getting there.

9. Learning Techniques and Dyslexia

Short description:

Learning my own learning techniques, dyslexia and audio learning, controversy around learning styles.

One of the biggest things I could say to really get started was learning my own learning techniques. So if you're getting started and you're like, yo, I want to go start something new. How are you going to get there? How are you going to learn it? How are you going to get started? A big way that talking with Laura about made me realize that especially with me being dyslexic, I found out that audio is really good for me. Not the only way I learned and some people that's why there's a lot of controversy around learning styles. I just happened to learn through audio a lot better because.

10. Learning Techniques and Typescript

Short description:

Text is hard for me. Visual learning through videos. Embracing different learning techniques. Understanding my sleep schedule and productivity. Finding tools to support my neurodivergent learning. Learning both Typescript and JavaScript. Structure and community from Typescript. Punny and goofy teaching on the show. Typescript Congress talk.

Text is really hard for me. Visual for myself was watching a lot of videos. That is very one to many. So I can consume it and watch it many, many times. Kinesthetic to me and made more sense of like if I were to go actually have someone teach me to do it or code myself and the learning these different pieces of me helped me embrace them and know which ones to use when.

Same with sleep and productivity scheduled also some have heard of them called Chronotypes. Again this is a great starting point not any like saying this is the end-all be-all. I found out that even if I wanted to be any of these other animals that I was a lion. Yeah waking up super early and being more productive the first half of the day and then I'm dead for the rest of the day. It's it's not fun I wish I could do more but knowing this I can embrace it. Knowing how to work with my neurodivergent yeah yeah. It's fun it's stressful it's hard it's I'm not alone and talking about it I was like oh all right that's dope other people have it too and how to use and find tools that helped me with all of the above. Like different alarms or text-to-speech or you know I do a lot of my streams with my iPad so I can write notes. All of these things are different ways that I have learned that go into my own learning techniques and this all leads up to why Typescript? How does Typescript help? That's kind of a weird thing to help. Think back to when you were learning Typescript. Do people say that don't you need to know JavaScript to know Typescript? Well it would probably have been helpful but you know I like to do things the hard way and that's really fun. So I'm learning both at the same time. Also, Typescript gave me structure in the show and in my code which is awesome and weird all at the same time. One of the biggest pieces that Typescript gave me was my community. So many people that I was learning from and associating with knew Typescripts. And so, by all of that, as you already know, Typescript gave me structure. With types. Okay. This one slide was for me. Just for me. But there's also a big part of the community of why I started learning Typescript and why it also made it a lot easier for me to was having someone on the show that also can be punny and goofy and break things down easily from a very complex point of view to a beginner point of view. I'm doing a talk at Typescript Congress and I'm going to use this quote. At least maybe like the last sentence. Typescript provides a set of types. Yes.

11. Typescript and Structure

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Typescript provides type system tools for interfaces, making learning easier. Josh Goldberg, author of Learning Typescript, and the OSRG community have been instrumental in my learning journey. Typescript also provides structure in error checking and learning, helping me understand APIs and different technologies.

You do it. You do it. I'll clip it. You do it. I thought we were doing it in unison. Not that... I don't know. It's like a call to action situation.

Okay. Well, Typescript provides a set of type system tools for interfaces to help model the wackiness. That was great. Josh says it was great. I think it was a little painful. Either way, it was a little fun and Josh Goldberg is the author of Learning Typescript. And this book and Josh and my open source guild community raid... Open source raid guild? Yeah, community. OSRG. It's in the link tree if you want to come join the community there. All of these different people from so many aspects of my life knew Typescript. So it made it a lot easier to start learning because that's who I was around.

So what other things did Typescript give me structure? It also gave me structure in checking errors. Which I mean it does. It's pretty cool. That's what it does. And learning errors. Understanding AVIs. Earlier I mentioned that I worked at an API company. I also worked at the Denver API meetup. Or was one of the co-organizers. And it never quite clicked and learning Typescript and putting structure to all these different technologies really helped.

12. Lessons from Streaming and Learning

Short description:

Learning Python and Typescript at the same time was not my preference, so I focused on JavaScript and Typescript. The mindset is crucial for continuous growth. Guests on the show have learned something new, proving the importance of openness. Top lessons learned from a year of streaming and a hundred episodes include the similarities between learning and livestreaming, the need to embrace uncertainty, and the value of stepping out of the comfort zone. Starting live streaming requires attention to gear and audio quality.

It also made me learn that Python. Learning Python and Typescript at the same time, not my jam. So I stuck with JavaScript and Typescript.

Now to continue learning, we always have room to grow. Your mindset matters so much. And please always remember that. I am so amazed at some of the guests that I've had on the show that are have done such cool shit in their lifetimes and accomplished so much and they come on the show and they're like, yo, I learned something today from the show. I'm like, wait, what? You learned something? That happens. That's cool. And always being open means we'll grow together.

So, top lessons I learned over a year of streaming and a hundred episodes later is I don't know if this is good or bad to say at TouchCorp Congress but it's not as scary as they say. I mean, it's still a little scary. You know, learning and livestreaming have some things in common. They're fun. They're nerve-wracking. They're super frustrating. And we're going to wing it. You're going to wing it. Some part of it's going to be a wing it. And then we have learning how I learned. That is something that I wish I could give everyone that would be so helpful. And last but not least, doing things outside your comfort zone is kind of like a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Or the more you do it, you don't have enough time to become a crab again and shell. I don't know. But it does seem to be getting a little bit easier.

So what are four things you can do to start live streaming today or tomorrow or if you ever want to look into it. Gear. You may hear an audio difference between all of the clips that I gave you. Gear is a big piece of it.

13. Streaming Tips and Excitement

Short description:

Start with wired headphones. Figure out what you want to talk about. Choose a streaming platform. Share your excitement. Break barriers in tech. Connect with QR code.

Just starting with a wired headphones with a mic, like I'm thinking the Apple headphones that used to come on with all the phones. Those are great. Just make sure they're wired. Bluetooth gives it issues. You can hear it in some of those. It's really annoying.

Figure out what you want to talk about. Do you want to ask questions? Do you want to deep dive on research like finding out why elephants can communicate? Elephants might be a big reason to really like Postgres, but also elephants are just really cool and databases are cool too.

Where do you want to stream? There's so many different options. So choose one. Figure out which one you want to choose. Which ones are pros and cons? And share your excitement. Your excitement will get others excited and engage and it will just make learning together so much easier. And thank you for joining Lessons Learned While Learning Live. Together, we will break the barriers of getting into tech. And click that QR code if you would like to connect or see any more of these resources. The deck will be sent out and I look forward to your questions.

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Committing to creating high-quality content. That might sound obvious because I'm a full-time educator now, but I would not have gotten my job at PayPal if I hadn't been so active with my blog. In fact, lots of my jobs came out of me being involved in the community around meetups, conferences, or open-source projects. 
How do you choose topics for the content you create, be it for your blog or podcast?
I don't think too much about the content other people are creating. And I don't often consume it. My ideas come from the things that I'm working on, things that I'm learning myself, or — when I was working with a team of developers — the things that I had to remind people of in code reviews regularly. Anytime that I would have a code review comment that was pretty long to describe my position, that was an excellent opportunity for a blog post. Also, if people ask me about a topic regularly, I'll make a blog post rather than answer that question multiple times.

What would be your three tips for engineers to level up their career? 
The number one thing I tell people is to be a nice person. I know that sounds fluffy or silly, but it cannot be overstated. You will get so much further in your career and just in life in general if you're a nice person. That doesn't mean that you take people being jerks lying down, but how you interact with others is out of kindness. You could be the best engineer in the entire world, but if you're not a nice person, you will not reach your full potential or accomplish your goals, whatever they may be.
Second, it's just as important to decide what you are not going to learn as it is to decide what you are going to learn. You could jump into countless things — and there are successful people who are polyglot programmers, but I can't speak to that a whole lot. All I can tell you is that in my experience, focusing on specific things that I want to be truly good at has worked out great for my career. That doesn't mean that I closed myself off to other things. With my website rewrite, I have been doing a lot of dev ops-related work and a lot of back-end stuff that I've typically not been involved in. You want to keep your head up on what's going on outside of what you're doing so that you know what direction to go in when you come across problems you need to solve. However, finding a focus on what you want to be good at has helped me a lot. That way, you feel a little less stressed.
And the third one? 
Learn how to learn effectively. It's a three-step process: you consume, build, and teach. The consumption of newsletters and Twitter and whatever inspires you, but you don't want to spend too much time doing that — implementing it into actually building something matters. This happens naturally if you work at a company, but maybe you're not making the things you want to learn, so you may want to start a side project. The building phase is where you get experience, but you also want to solidify that experience. How? You start teaching. You don't necessarily have to teach it to people, it could be stuffed animals. The goal of the teaching is to retain in your mind what you've learned through the building process.
What are you working on right now? 
The big thing I'm working on right now is a rewrite of my website. It'll be much more than just a developer portfolio — I'll have user accounts, and there'll be fun things that you can do with it. And because it's more than just a website, I'm using Remix, a new cool framework in the React ecosystem. I'm also working on updating my material on TestingJavaScript.com and a TypeScript course as well. 
So, whatever I'm working on, it ends up resulting in lots of opportunities for content.

Do you have some rituals that keep you focused and goal-oriented? 
I have a notepad where I keep all of my notes of what I'm going to do for the day so that when I'm checking things off, I'm not distracted notifications. I've tried apps for that, and that does not work well for me. 
I also am a firm believer in inbox zero. I have my work inbox and my personal inbox, and I keep them both at zero. And I kind of use that as a to-do list. 
And if I'm not feeling excited about working for some reason, I will often hop on my Onewheel, which is an electric skateboard that only has one giant wheel in the middle. It's just a total blast, and I'll hop on that with my backpack and a charger, and I'll go to a Starbucks or a park just to declutter my mind.
What things in the React universe are you excited about right now?
React version 18 is coming out soon. The experimental version is out there, and it's fun to play with. I'm just really thrilled that it's no longer a concurrent mode but concurrent features that you can opt into. Cool things like that will enable React server components in the future. 
But the biggest thing I'm excited about is Remix. That's huge. It eliminates a lot of problems that are solved well other tools, but when I'm using Remix, I don't have those problems, so I don't need those clusters.
You already said that teaching is an integral part of the learning process, and you stand your word since you're also a full-time educator. What inspired you to enter this field?
I have been a teacher for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a church where you talk in front of your peers from a very young age, and my mom was an elementary school teacher, so teaching has just always been a part of me. 
I really just enjoy sharing what I'm learning with others. As far as teaching technical topics, I gave my first workshop when I was still a student at Brigham Young University. With my fellow, we taught how to use AngularJS, and I got Firebase to sponsor pizza so they would show up, and that was pretty fun.
Then I started teaching on the side at egghead.io right after I'd graduated. That was when I first got a paycheck for teaching. And I realized that teaching could be quite lucrative and support my family and me as a full-time endeavor. So I did it — I quit my job. I'm a very risk-averse person, so I'd done teaching as a side hustle for four years just to verify that I could make this work.
When TestingJavaScript was released, and I got that paycheck, I realized that I didn't need my PayPal salary anymore. I could just focus my daytime on teaching and give my evenings back to my family, which was a nice trait.

Apart from that, how has teaching impacted your career? 
Earlier I mentioned that pretty much all of my jobs came because I was perceived as an expert. After the first job, where I was an intern and then converted into full-time, I never applied to another. I worked for four different companies, and they wouldn't have recruited me if they didn't know who I was and what I was doing. My content is how they knew who I was — I just made it easy for them to find me. Teaching made that impact. It made my career. 
We talked about React and Remix. Are there any other open-source projects that you'd recommend keeping an eye on or contributing to?
I have some myself. React Testing Library is probably the biggest one that people are familiar with. And if React isn't your jam, then other framework versions of the testing library. 
React Query is also really popular. If you're using Remix, you don't need it, but if you're not, I strongly advise using React Query cause it's a stellar, fantastic library, and Tanner Linsley, the creator, is a stellar and fantastic person. 
What pieces of your work are you most proud of? 
Probably the biggest thing I've ever done is EpicReact.Dev. It has helped tens of thousands of people get really good at React, improve their careers and make the world a better place with the skills that they develop. My whole mission is to make the world a better place through quality software, and I feel like I've done that best with Epic React. 
There are things that I've built at other companies that are still in use, and I'm proud of those cause they've stood the test of time, at least these last few years. But of everything, I think Epic React has made the biggest impact.
Follow Kent on Twitter and listen to his favorite Spotify playlist
Effective Communication for Engineers
TechLead Conference 2023TechLead Conference 2023
36 min
Effective Communication for Engineers
Your communication skills affect your career prospects, the value you bring to your company, and the likelihood of your promotion. This session helps you communicate better in a variety of professional situations, including meetings, email messages, pitches, and presentations.
Charlie Gerard's Career Advice: Be intentional about how you spend your time and effort
6 min
Charlie Gerard's Career Advice: Be intentional about how you spend your time and effort
Featured Article
Charlie Gerard
Jan Tomes
2 authors
When it comes to career, Charlie has one trick: to focus. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try different things — currently a senior front-end developer at Netlify, she is also a sought-after speaker, mentor, and a machine learning trailblazer of the JavaScript universe. "Experiment with things, but build expertise in a specific area," she advises.

What led you to software engineering?My background is in digital marketing, so I started my career as a project manager in advertising agencies. After a couple of years of doing that, I realized that I wasn't learning and growing as much as I wanted to. I was interested in learning more about building websites, so I quit my job and signed up for an intensive coding boot camp called General Assembly. I absolutely loved it and started my career in tech from there.
 What is the most impactful thing you ever did to boost your career?I think it might be public speaking. Going on stage to share knowledge about things I learned while building my side projects gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the industry, learn a ton from watching other people's talks and, for lack of better words, build a personal brand.
 What would be your three tips for engineers to level up their career?Practice your communication skills. I can't stress enough how important it is to be able to explain things in a way anyone can understand, but also communicate in a way that's inclusive and creates an environment where team members feel safe and welcome to contribute ideas, ask questions, and give feedback. In addition, build some expertise in a specific area. I'm a huge fan of learning and experimenting with lots of technologies but as you grow in your career, there comes a time where you need to pick an area to focus on to build more profound knowledge. This could be in a specific language like JavaScript or Python or in a practice like accessibility or web performance. It doesn't mean you shouldn't keep in touch with anything else that's going on in the industry, but it means that you focus on an area you want to have more expertise in. If you could be the "go-to" person for something, what would you want it to be? 
 And lastly, be intentional about how you spend your time and effort. Saying yes to everything isn't always helpful if it doesn't serve your goals. No matter the job, there are always projects and tasks that will help you reach your goals and some that won't. If you can, try to focus on the tasks that will grow the skills you want to grow or help you get the next job you'd like to have.
 What are you working on right now?Recently I've taken a pretty big break from side projects, but the next one I'd like to work on is a prototype of a tool that would allow hands-free coding using gaze detection. 
 Do you have some rituals that keep you focused and goal-oriented?Usually, when I come up with a side project idea I'm really excited about, that excitement is enough to keep me motivated. That's why I tend to avoid spending time on things I'm not genuinely interested in. Otherwise, breaking down projects into smaller chunks allows me to fit them better in my schedule. I make sure to take enough breaks, so I maintain a certain level of energy and motivation to finish what I have in mind.
 You wrote a book called Practical Machine Learning in JavaScript. What got you so excited about the connection between JavaScript and ML?The release of TensorFlow.js opened up the world of ML to frontend devs, and this is what really got me excited. I had machine learning on my list of things I wanted to learn for a few years, but I didn't start looking into it before because I knew I'd have to learn another language as well, like Python, for example. As soon as I realized it was now available in JS, that removed a big barrier and made it a lot more approachable. Considering that you can use JavaScript to build lots of different applications, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and IoT, and combine them with machine learning as well as some fun web APIs felt super exciting to me.

Where do you see the fields going together in the future, near or far? I'd love to see more AI-powered web applications in the future, especially as machine learning models get smaller and more performant. However, it seems like the adoption of ML in JS is still rather low. Considering the amount of content we post online, there could be great opportunities to build tools that assist you in writing blog posts or that can automatically edit podcasts and videos. There are lots of tasks we do that feel cumbersome that could be made a bit easier with the help of machine learning.
 You are a frequent conference speaker. You have your own blog and even a newsletter. What made you start with content creation?I realized that I love learning new things because I love teaching. I think that if I kept what I know to myself, it would be pretty boring. If I'm excited about something, I want to share the knowledge I gained, and I'd like other people to feel the same excitement I feel. That's definitely what motivated me to start creating content.
 How has content affected your career?I don't track any metrics on my blog or likes and follows on Twitter, so I don't know what created different opportunities. Creating content to share something you built improves the chances of people stumbling upon it and learning more about you and what you like to do, but this is not something that's guaranteed. I think over time, I accumulated enough projects, blog posts, and conference talks that some conferences now invite me, so I don't always apply anymore. I sometimes get invited on podcasts and asked if I want to create video content and things like that. Having a backlog of content helps people better understand who you are and quickly decide if you're the right person for an opportunity.What pieces of your work are you most proud of?It is probably that I've managed to develop a mindset where I set myself hard challenges on my side project, and I'm not scared to fail and push the boundaries of what I think is possible. I don't prefer a particular project, it's more around the creative thinking I've developed over the years that I believe has become a big strength of mine.***Follow Charlie on Twitter

Workshops on related topic

How To Design A Sustainable Freelance/Contracting Career + Speedcoding Challenge
React Summit 2022React Summit 2022
75 min
How To Design A Sustainable Freelance/Contracting Career + Speedcoding Challenge
Shane Ketterman
Shane Ketterman
Ready to kickstart your freelance career or just getting started on your freelance journey? You’re in the right spot. Learn from the world’s largest fully distributed workforce in the world.
The independent talent movement is the future of work. If you’re considering leaving full-time employment for a career as a freelancer, now is the time to find your successful space in the independent talent workforce. More people are working freelance today than ever before, with the freelance marketplace now contributing $1.2 trillion to the US economy. Some of the most in-demand roles for freelancers right now are senior developers with professional experience in React, Python, Blockchain, QA, and Node.js.
This workshop will help you design a sustainable and profitable full-time (or part-time) freelancing/contracting career. We will give you tools, tips, best practices, and help you avoid common pitfalls.
At the end of the workshop there will be a Q&A session with a Freelance Developer who can answer your questions and provide insights and tips into their own success.
During the Workshop break, we will be running a speed-coding challenge! At the end of the workshop, we will award a prize for the winner and display the leaderboard.
We will have you login to our portal and complete the challenge as fast as you can to earn points. Points are assigned based on difficulty and the speed at which you solve the tasks. In case you complete all tasks, you get extra points for the remaining time. You’ll see your score, ranking, and the leaderboard once you complete the challenge.
We will be giving away three Amazon Gift Cards ($200, $100, $75) for the top three winners.
Designing A Sustainable Freelance Career
React Advanced Conference 2021React Advanced Conference 2021
145 min
Designing A Sustainable Freelance Career
Alexander Weekes
Rodrigo Donini
2 authors
Would you like to pursue your passions and have more control over your career? Would you like schedule and location flexibility and project variety? Would you like the stability of working full-time and getting paid consistently? Thousands of companies have embraced remote work and realize that they have access to a global talent pool. This is advantageous for anyone who has considered or is currently considering freelance work.>> Submit your interest on becoming a freelance engineer with Toptal and get a call with Talent Acquisition specialist <<

Freelancing is no longer an unstable career choice.

This workshop will help you design a sustainable and profitable full-time (or part-time) freelancing career. We will give you tools, tips, best practices, and help you avoid common pitfalls.
Table of contents

Module 1: Dispelling common myths about freelancing
Module 2: What does freelancing look like in 2021 and beyond
Module 3: Freelancing choices and what to look for (and what to avoid)
Module 4: Benefits of freelancing from a freelancer + case study
Module 6: How to get started freelancing (experience, resume, preparation)
Module 7: Common paths to full-time freelancing
Module 8: Essentials: setting your rate and getting work
Module 9: Next steps: networking with peers, upskilling, changing the world
Module 10: Freelancer AMA
Landing Your Next Developer Job
React Summit Remote Edition 2021React Summit Remote Edition 2021
121 min
Landing Your Next Developer Job
Sadek Drobi
Nouha Chhih
Francois Bohyn
3 authors
Renaud Bressant (Head of Product), Nathanael Lamellière (Head of Customer Success and Solution Engineer), Nouha Chhih (Developer Experience Manager) will be looking at the different developer jobs that you can accounter when looking for your next developer role. We'll be explaining the specifics of each role, to help you identify which one could be your next move. We'll also be sharing tips to help you navigate the recruitment process, based on the different roles we interviewed for as recruiters, but also as candidates. This will be more of an Ask Us Anything session, so don't hesitate to share your thoughts and questions during the session.