Coding Boot camps

I work in marketing. I truly enjoy it because I am an extrovert who likes designing things. But lately I’ve wanted to go further in the digital side of things. The only problem is I don’t have any computer skills (unless you want to see my high school Myspace page, those falling hearts did not create themselves). So I’ve been researching coding boot camps such as Coding Dojo, Hack Reactor, Galvanize, DevMountain, et al, to try to jumpstart my brain and give me some basic understanding of these magical machines that control our lives.

I know there are online classes that are *gasp* free, but I have exactly none of the self-discipline for that approach, or else I would have already done it.

So rather than wade through the madness that are online review sites (which reviews are legit, which are Stepford-esque spam bots? There is no way to know!) I thought I would ask the internet directly.

Do anyone out there have experience with these boot camps? Have you been there? Have you hired anyone from there? Are they useful? Are they only useful at taking your money? Is it possible to have a part-time job while doing it? How does any millennial find the money for it? Do you have a fairy godmother? If you have a fairy godmother why are you bothering learning, can’t she just give you the knowledge in pill form? Anyway, I’ve lost track. Any feedback would be appreciated!!

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Five Majors that are Surprisingly Useful for Marketing


American colleges are weird. We are promised four years of sweet student loan-subsidized debauchery with a side of class, and then when we get there we are expected to make decisions that will follow us for the rest of our lives. No wonder there is such a weak corollary between what people study and what we become in real life.

Marketing is strange in that it is a field that also exists as a major, but it’s also a field that can be learned on the job rather easily (in comparison, say, to medicine where you need to have a lot of knowledge going in). So if you are lucky enough to know where your interest lies while you’re young enough to still be on your parents’ health plan, congratulations! But it’s not the only major that lends itself to this particular field.

Some other useful majors for your future marketing career include:

  1. Anthropology: by teaching you to think critically and ask questions scientifically, an anthropology degree will give you a unique perspective that translates well to market analysis.
  2. Psychology: a thorough understanding of human behavior is necessary to predict trends and create outside-the-box strategies to get products to people.
  3. Statistics: data organization and analysis will set you apart in a field that attracts creative people who sometimes lack hard skills.
  4. Graphic design: if you want to work on the digital side of marketing you will need some solid design skills. Plus design majors get early experience networking with clients, taking feedback, and building their portfolios.
  5. Communications: marketing requires interacting with a wide variety of people to communicate your vision.

So there you have it. Study whatever makes you happy, enjoy your college experience. If you want to go into marketing, there are as many ways to get there as there are people in the field. Expand your mind while you have a chance, and know that you’ll find your way.

2019’s Best Cities for Marketing

Living in one place forever isn’t for everyone. Although I love Austin dearly for its tattoo artists and overpriced tacos, sometimes I like to dream of living somewhere else. The world is so big and exciting and full of regional variations of pizza that it seems a shame not to experience it all. So if the urge to take off is getting stronger, and you’re ready for your next adventure, go with it! The only question is what to do when you get there. If marketing is your chosen field, you can probably do it anywhere, but just to be safe here Forbes’ list of the best cities for marketing jobs in 2019 with commentary by me.

Here is the real article:

https://www.forbes.com/pictures/efkk45eklhh/the-10-best-cities-for-marketing-jobs-right-now/#6ba36ea54036

New York, NY

If you’re the kind of person who wants to move to New York, you’re already there or planning to be there soon. For that I commend you, you are clearly a hustler with no fear of commission-based jobs, and you’ll probably do well.

Move there if you want to be at the epicenter of culture.

Avoid it if, like most Americans, you don’t want to give up your car.

Oakland, CA

As a person who lived in San Francisco, the inclusion of Oakland on lists like this makes me long for a simpler time when Oakland was the affordable, charming slum of the Bay Area. Oh how times have changed. Northern California is not the hippie paradise it once was, but it’s still crunchier than its East Coast counterparts.

Move there if you secretly hope to snag a tech bro.

Avoid it if the tech industry offends you.

San Jose, CA

Similar to above, but a bit more family oriented. After you’ve picked your Oakland hottie, maybe migrate south where the real estate is only eye-wateringly expensive as opposed to vomit-inducingly

Move there if you want to be near the bay area culture, but would also like to raise a family.

Avoid it if you’re under 25.

San Francisco, CA

I’m beginning to think I left the bay area too soon…

Move there if you’re comfortable living in perpetual fog with stunning architecture.

Avoid it if you make under $75k/ year.

Long Beach, CA

California’s most underrated city. Thirty miles south of LA but without the Hollywood types, Long Beach is the ideal compromise between all the stereotypes about California that you rightfully hate. Plus, it is conveniently located next to Lakewood, a planned community that has been named Calfornia’s most boring city. https://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/most-boring-places-in-california/

Move there if you’re a fan of Snoop Dog.

Avoid it if your job is in LA and you don’t enjoy two hour commutes.

Boston, MA

A beautiful city full of well-educated people. I would hesitate to move here because the amount of local college students might drive up rent and down wages. However, if you’re young and energetic, it would be a wonderful place to live.

Move there if you can handle the winters.

Avoid it if you are not a Red Socks fan.

Los Angeles, CA

Cheaper than the Bay Area, close to celebrities, lots of traffic. Go here to work among the world’s most beautiful people, leave when you get sick of people name-dropping celebrities they met at Trader Joe’s.

Move there if you want your backyard to function as an extension of your living space.

Avoid it if you have any delusions of fame.

Chicago, IL

The Windy City, one-time home of The Hills star Kristen Cavallari, busiest airport in America. If you’re a midwesterner looking to get marketing work close to home, this is the place for you.

Move there if you couldn’t make it in New York.

Avoid it if you still want to make it in New York.

Washington, D.C.

I had no idea there were marketing jobs here. I imagine they are just as cutthroat as government jobs, though less prone to shutdowns. Be sure to bring your business casual game.

Move there if your hair is impervious to humidity.

Avoid it if you take a laid-back approach to networking.

Seattle, WA

The most livable of all the cities on this list in terms of housing prices. I couldn’t do it because I’m incredibly photosensitive and don’t appreciate living on the set of 2002’s The Ring.

Move there if amazing coffee and legal weed are your things.

Avoid it if grunge was your least favorite trend.

Glassdoor Reviews I Don’t Trust

WARNING: RANT AHEAD. IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY THE WORD “FUCK” THIS POST IS NOT FOR YOU!

As a person who spent her 20s in a free-spirited whirlwind, I have held a lot of jobs. This means I have spent a lot of time searching for jobs. And let me tell you, the job search is at its best a frustrating miasma of inconsistent job titles, misleading salary estimates, and potential scams. Thankfully, the internet exists with its legion of malcontents* leaving reviews of said jobs on places like Indeed and Glassdoor, and god bless them for it. But as much as we can learn from the negative reviews, I firmly believe we can learn even more from the positive reviews. This is not because they are informative, quite the opposite. The positive reviews are uniform in their bullshit, and thus beautiful. But after you read enough of them, it is easy to spot the scams.

Of course every industry attracts dishonesty, it’s a fact of life that dates back to the man selling cobra venom as moisturizer, but one industry in particular seems to revel in it. That industry of course is my chosen one: marketing. I love marketing, because it combines sales, human psychology, totally nonsensical acronyms, graphic design, and writing into one easily analyzed package, but holy shit does it have an image problem thanks to these companies. Go figure, the industry that gave the world the pyramid scheme has some shady job posts.

That said, there are a couple of phrases that always seem to indicate that a job is not going to be the money-making venture that they promise. The below come from several different companies and span many years, but all of them fall into a few broad categories that uniquely piss me off.

The victim blaming

This comes in phrases such as “if you’re prepared to work, you’ll be rewarded” or “not for someone looking for a traditional 9-5” and they all reek of an out-of-touch baby boomer chastising the younger generation for not working hard enough. But here’s the thing, strawman review writer in my head, everyone works fucking hard. Literally everyone.The 9-5 is dead and we all expect to grind and side hustle. Once again, I cannot stress this enough we are all working fucking hard. If the best thing your company has going for it is that it rewards hard work that’s not the greatest endorsement, but what makes these posts so offensive is that they often explicitly blame people for their own lack of success at these companies. Look, maybe some people do have everything going for them but fail because of lack of motivation,** but more likely they failed because they had family commitments, or health issues, or they didn’t fit into the straight, white, young, conventionally attractive box that our society demands of its members. Hell, maybe they want to leave a job at work and come home and focus on other projects and that is absolutely okay. Leave your nonsense moralizing at home and try to have some compassion.

Examples:

Working with this person seems like a con unto itself
I personally find getting a paycheck to be a perk of my job, but to each their own?
Luckily one of my strengths is blaming others for my own shortcomings
I am not a scholar of Eastern philosophy, but I highly doubt this person is either

Anyway it’s okay that some people fail because of my next rage button

Trying to sell a shitty job as an educational opportunity

“This is a 4-year MBA condensed into a 1-year program” is a phrase that I have heard on more than one interview and cannot on any level take seriously. Um, no. It absolutely is not. Unless I can take my one year of working for your shitty company to Wharton’s MBA program and trade it in for a diploma, this is a job. Although on-the-job training seemed to be phased out with the Reagan administration, learning and improving is part of any career. Most people enjoy being challenged in their work, and if you’re bragging that something is a learning opportunity you’re probably asking them to sacrifice something else (money, work-life balance, health insurance) to do it.

Examples:

If you don’t think it’s a con, maybe don’t put it under cons?
Except at the end of going to school you get a diploma. At the end of this you get a bill for car repair
My generation’s misuse of the word literally will doom historians trying to understand us
You know what else would help my development as an individual? Health insurance.

And finally, the biggest red flag…

Complaining about other employees’ bad reviews

LOL thanks Donald Trump, but no one is out to get your precious company.

I only have one example because most of them name the company, but I assure you they are out there.

*I realize that in writing this I have become the worst kind of malcontent, the kind with a blog. I am no better than the people writing 17 paragraphs about their disappointing sandwich experience at Arby’s.

** Hi there, myself from ages 16-25.


All Hail the Flemish Giant

A Flemish Giant at Rest

All hail the Flemish Giant, the most majestic of the rabbit breeds! As the name implies, Flemish Giants are originally from Flanders, but have spread west and are now easy to find on your local Craigslist. The largest of rabbits, they can reach up to 20 lbs and have the sleepy temperament of your childhood Great Dane. They are loving, intelligent, fiercely communicative animals who make wonderful pets who will happily nap at your feet while you work, or overturn coffee cups to get your attention when watching you work gets boring. Yes they are lovely creatures, provided you do not have indoor carpeting or an affinity for expensive USB cords. While many people like the idea of Flemish Giants, few can picture the reality of 16 lbs of bunny dictating the next several years of their life. So if you’re ready to take the plunge and surrender your book collection to these wise, fuzzy schemers, read on for a handy list of do’s and don’ts.

DO: Rabbit-proof your house. Home Depot has a variety of cord protectors, and you will want to stock up. Cords are basically candy to the Flemish Giant. They also enjoy books. They do not enjoy newspapers that you’ve already read, or paper bags that you were going to throw away, but they will go crazy for your favorite novel. Take it as a compliment, it probably smells like you.

DON’T: Purchase your rabbit off of Craigslist. Flemish Giants have delicate physiologies and are prone to a number of health problems. Thus it is better to buy from breeders who can provide you with the parents’ medical history and give you a head’s up about potential medical issues.

DO: Familiarize yourself with your local produce section. Rabbits eat mostly hay and rabbit kibble, but they also need to be fed fresh fruits and vegetables every day. If you already eat a lot of fruits and vegetables this won’t change your routine in any measurable way because you can just feed him the scraps, but you will want to familiarize yourself with the most rabbit-friendly vegetables, as well as your individual rabbit’s highly specific preferences, and adjust your diet accordingly.

DON’T: Try to travel with your rabbit. American Airlines made unfavorable headlines two years ago when the son of the largest rabbit in the world died aboard a transatlantic flight, but it wasn’t necessarily American Airlines’ fault. Rabbits are not unlike your incontinent uncle yelling at the television from his La-Z-Boy: they have picked their spot in life and they are comfortable there. They do not want to explore the world, and if you have picked a rabbit as a pet, you do not either. If you wanted independence you should have gotten a cat.

DO: Find a competent vet with exotic animal experience. This is because you will need to spay or neuter your rabbit the second they are old enough, or around 12 weeks. Rabbits are a fertility metaphor for a reason, and the hormones they deal with will ruin their temperaments if left unchecked. Plus, the males will start peeing on your walls in a display of dominance if you don’t neuter them fast enough. Once they start doing this, they will never stop.

So there you have it. Rabbits aren’t for everyone, but if you have the sudden, undeniable urge for one, lean in to it. Their wise demeanors will bring a clarity to your existence, and their affinity for fruit can only be good for your diet.

Some Surprisingly Controversial Thoughts on Spending Freeze Challenges

I don’t know about you, but I cannot get enough of these lifestyle challenges. A 30-day cleaning challenge? My house has never looked better! Seven days of green smoothies? Hello clearer skin! My sister and I even turned a summer reading challenge into a contest where the loser buys the winner a plane ticket to come visit her. It’s an amazing way to keep in touch and gives us interesting new things to talk about. I know at their core these challenges are just an extension of the myth of instant gratification, but I have been seduced by their sleek layouts and promise of shinier hair.

However, there is one kind of challenge that sets my teeth on edge. That challenge is of course the 30-day spending freeze. This is not to criticize anyone for partaking in the challenge. If it helps you curb your spending, then more power to you. But I admit that when I read about the challenge for the first time, my only reaction was, “Hey, I’ve inadvertently done that challenge before. It’s called being poor.”

There are many valid and important reasons to go on a spending freeze: to pay down debt, to cut back hours so you can focus on school, and to save up for a well-earned vacation. But, these challenges are marketed as self-improvements, and a monk-like commitment to delayed gratification that makes you better than the people around you. Personally, I feel it’s a way for well-off people to congratulate themselves on struggles they haven’t personally experienced.

The issue I have with a 30-day spending freeze is the same one I have with voluntourism. Which, in my mind, is when unqualified college students going to economically-depressed areas to build churches, or spend six hours reading to children because it looks nice on their Instagram. Poor people aren’t making a statement when they don’t buy coffee every morning, it’s simply their reality. It is easy for someone who doesn’t have to worry about money to do a 30-day no spending challenge when you know that, in a month, you’ll be back to your old spending habits.I think this challenge also requires a certain amount of financial and/or career flexibility. You have to be able to pay all your upcoming bills before the challenge starts, and then stock up on supplies that you’ll know you need during the freeze. It also helps if you’re able to work from home, so you can save on gas and resist the urge to buy lunch out. It is understood that if an emergency comes up, the challenge will halt, and the expenses will be paid, probably from the money you saved by not buying expensive cheeses. It is reminiscent of the soft news reporters marveling that panhandlers can make almost $10/hour without understanding the circumstances that put them there.

Sometimes, I wonder if these challenges appeal to me because they do away with the concept of moderation entirely. A spending freeze is similar to a crash diet in that, when it’s over, there is a manic desire to make up for what you missed out on. Real financial change is not that glamorous (or torturous). It requires budgeting, carefully tracking of your spending, and implementing cut-backs that you know you can stick to. Figuring out what you can reasonably remove from your budget should be like a science experiment where you control all the other variables. Don’t cut out everything at once, just cut out coffee first and see how that works. If you can’t part with your caffeine addiction (I am right there with you) try something different the following month. Try cooking at home, and see if that’s a sustainable change.

And, you don’t have to try just financial challenges, try lifestyle ones as well. Meditating for ten minutes a day for 30 days might be interesting, as would spending the year only reading books written by authors of color to make sure you’re consuming diverse sources of entertainment. It’s also useful to tackle and execute one of those guides about cleaning up your digital footprint, which can alert you to things online that may be affecting your employability. Doing something for 30 days is a wonderful way to break old habits and create new ones, but in my opinion, that doesn’t apply to a spending freeze. I just feel strongly that when the freeze is over, your old habits will be back since you didn’t replace them with anything sustainable long term.

Ultimately, I know that my problem with this comes down to insecurity. And, to be fair, the dietary challenges are probably far more offensive from a financial point of view (there is a special ring in hell reserved for people who spent upwards of $300 on a selection of pressed juices made entirely of spinach and self-congratulation). I am just not far enough removed from my own times of financial insecurity. While my situation was entirely my own fault, that’s not the case for everyone. I waited tables with some of the hardest-working men and women I have ever met, who were born into a system that discriminates against them. I don’t have the patience to hear another person talk about how freeing it was to realize that they, too, can live without Uber. If we romanticize aspects of poverty, a practice that I am definitely guilty of doing, it takes focus away from people’s daily reality. It is not more noble not to spend money, it’s just different circumstances.

Reprinted with permission from TheFinancialDiet.com

Some Thoughts I’ve had About Riding a Bike

About a month ago, my beloved 1989 Chevy Celebrity gasped its last breath while I was driving on a rural road in central Texas. Devastated, I rushed it to the nearest mechanic, only to hear the phrase every owner of an ancient car dreads.

“You need a new engine.”

“I see,” I responded. “But is it driveable?”

“Maybe your husband should come in so I can describe the problem to someone with more experience.”

I told him I was unmarried and asked if the engine could be rebuilt, hopefully for less than $1,000, or possibly for free. I took his hysterical laughter as a sign that he was considering it, but alas, he was not. So I sold it for scrap metal, which netted me a quick $300 that I used to buy a nice bike. If you are in the market for a beater car, definitely look for one with a metal body. It is slightly less efficient on gas, but if you plan to drive it until it dies, you’ll get more money out of it for parts than a plastic-based vehicle. I once sold a 2003 Saturn and got about $60, which was just the last in a series of regrets related to said car.

Unfortunately this (likely foreseeable) car crisis coincided with my plans to move back to Los Angeles, to escape another Texas summer. I considered postponing my move until I could get the car situation handled, but I had already paid for classes at my hometown community college because I am a perpetual student and I didn’t want to figure out a new apartment. So I decided to go for it, sans vehicle. I am a person who is prone to expensive and time-consuming car problems as it is. Taking on a car payment on my already-stretched budget seemed like a mistake that would lead directly to me eating Ramen and drinking jug wine while crying about money problems. Plus, I had been hearing great things about the expanding public transportation system in Southern California, and I always wanted to be a person who rode a bike for the inflated sense of moral superiority…I mean, to save the environment. Plus, in a pinch, I could always use Uber, which is now banned in much of Texas (Editor’s note: this is no longer true but this was written in 2016).

And so, with almost no forethought, I decided to go for it. I was going to join the ranks of cyclists and become a better me.

I have now been living without a car for over a month, and I have to say: I’m undecided. I really enjoy my expanded lung capacity, but the world seems much bigger now, and I am not sure if I like it. Here is what I’ve learned so far:

1. It is definitely cost-effective. This was my major reason for trying this out, and it has turned out pretty much as I expected. The upfront costs to getting a bike in road-worthy condition were more than I anticipated (about $200, plus the cost of the bike) but that is because I am an overly-optimistic judge of finances. I know I am not blowing your mind when I tell you cars cost money. If you are me, they cost lots of money. Between gas, insurance, routine maintenance, emergency maintenance, and parking tickets, they can easily get into the $1,000-range every month. Even with my current tendency to take ride-share apps when I feel lazy, I am definitely doing myself a financial service.

2. Every part of my stupid body hurts. True story, I am the least in-shape skinny girl you will ever meet. I had a brief dalliance with biking as my main mode of transportation during a semester abroad in college, and I managed to get heat stroke on three separate occasions. In Sweden. (It was sort of impressive). When I started biking again last month, I would get to my class (2.7 miles away, according to my phone’s pedometer app) and immediately cry about having to go back home in three hours. Now, I am up to five miles at a stretch without dying, but I would be lying if I said I enjoyed it.

3. Google can’t help you. The biking directions have been in beta mode for as long as I can remember, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. I now use it as more of a general guideline than hard-and-fast directions. There is something so uniquely frustrating about a company saving every weird search you ever make for all eternity and still not discerning that you probably don’t want to take the most direct route if it includes a mile of uphill climbing. You should know me better than this, Google. You know everything else about me.

4. The moral superiority. I’m saving the planet, you guys. Seriously. Let me tell you about it…over the phone, because I sure as hell am not leaving my house if I don’t absolutely have to. Still, it makes for a better excuse for my biking lifestyle than “I cannot be trusted to notice a check engine light until my vehicle is literally emitting smoke.”

5. It forces you to be smart with your resources. I have a tendency to treat my car as an extension of my closet, and left to my own devices, everything I own will slowly migrate to it. Now I feel every extra pound I’m carrying, and it’s forced me to be judicious about what I need for the day. I have also gotten smart about my route. If work is a mile from school and three miles from my house, you better believe I will stick around the library for awhile to save myself the added seven miles. As someone who tends to procrastinate, this is probably useful. Even with the added travel time, I suddenly have way more hours in the day.

6. My body is my temple. You know what I love more than anything? Pizza. And pasta. And wiping out my weekly food budget at Taco Bell. However, riding a bike with a stomach full of empty calories does not feel good. This experience has taught me that food really is fuel and not just a method of putting yourself in a grease-coma, so I have been making an effort to eat better. Luckily, I quit smoking over a year ago; I do think my smoking contributed to the previous heat stroke experiences, and I won’t be starting up again anytime soon. Alcohol terrifies me now because riding while drunk could seriously kill you. I know the same could be said for drinking and driving, but the fear is just more immediate when you can feel every gust of wind on your face. And as much as it causes me physical pain, I realized that coffee was making me nauseous on my morning ride, so I stopped that for awhile. I started buying it at school, though, because I am not a fucking cyborg and I really do need caffeine to function. Plus, I am saving so much in car repairs that I can afford to relax my spending a bit.

7. My friends are seriously the best. I have one friend that lives around the block from me, and I love that this experience has made us both hang out more. I am insanely grateful for the people who will drive 40 minutes in rush hour traffic to take me to a movie with them. I try to buy them dinner (especially since being in a car means I get to stuff myself past the point of all reason rather than responsibly drinking a green smoothie), but I know it is frustrating for my friends who are accommodating my new life choice.

8. I am developing mechanical skills. A few days ago, I hit a curb that I thought was flat. It wasn’t, and my bike chain fell off. Despite this being literally the easiest fix of all time, it took me about half an hour to fix it by the side of the road. And I was so proud I high-fived myself and texted like three people to brag about my genius. My male friend said he was proud that I was developing dude skills. He was wrong: I am developing life skills. I have ovaries of steel.

9. You feel more connected to your city. I can get my eyebrows threaded for $4, right around the corner from me. I never would have seen that from a car. I also discovered an all-you-can-eat sushi special that looks either delicious or terrifying; I’m not sure which one. I live in such a culturally interesting place, and I didn’t notice that as a car-driver. Sure, I miss Texas BBQ and air conditioning, but I am really enjoying being out in the world more.

10. We do not live in a bike-friendly world. Yes, I live in a place with amazing weather and adequate pubic transportation, but “better than some places” is still not good enough. I would really like America to transition away from being such a commuting economy. It’s not mentally healthy, and it contributes to obesity. Finding jobs that I can get to without spending two hours in transit has been an awkward experience, and any form of construction tends to make bike lanes impossible-to-use. Plus, cars straight up do not know how to deal with you, and their displeased honking can be a jarring wake-up call.

Ultimately, I am glad I made this decision, although I am not sure how sustainable it is in the long-term. The mental health benefits from the exercise alone have done wonders for me, and I see now that I was unnecessarily miserable sitting in traffic all day. I will still need a car for certain errands and day trips, but I am finding myself more focused and present in my daily life. And my thighs could probably crush someone. So that’s pretty cool. If anyone has any tips, please send them my way. I am still learning about this and can use all the help I can get!

This story is reprinted with permission from TheFinancialDiet.com

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