What is your current professional role and how did you get here?
The great thing about both of these careers is that there aren’t huge barriers to entry for either of them. They don’t require specific academic degrees or professional certifications. Pretty much anyone can become an app developer or podcaster by simply starting to do it.
And that’s exactly what I did.
It takes a while to get good and/or successful at it, but lots of people do, and almost all of them got there by just starting it one day and keeping at it for a while.
What was the first app you worked on and what did it do?
My first app was Instapaper, which saved articles for offline reading so I could read them on underground trains during my commute.
What went well? What could have gone better?
The app was successful for years, earning both critical acclaim and also a great living.
Its main areas for improvement were design — I was awful at it, but also didn’t hire designers for most of it — and long-term competitiveness in the market. All of my competitors were free and I was paid-up-front, so even though I had an earlier and stronger start, they ended up getting far more users in the long run because they were free. In retrospect, I should’ve gone free earlier and made money in other ways, such as ads or in-app purchases.
At App Camp, we emphasize that it’s important to have interests outside of tech and to take breaks from looking at screens. What are some of your interests outside of tech? What do you do when you need to take a break from work?
Podcasting is a major hobby and second business of mine, but that involves screens, too! (I have a habit of turning my hobbies into businesses.)
Otherwise, I really enjoy bike riding, dog walking, and roasting my own coffee.
Why do you support the goals of App Camp?
Programming is an amazing, marketable, and useful skill, whether it’s a hobby or your career. Some people, like me, find it incredibly interesting, fulfilling, and satisfying.
You don’t know if you’re one of these people until you try it, so it’s important that everyone has a chance to try and see if it’s interesting to them.
What do you recommend to those who want to support more diversity in tech?
Support relevant causes such as App Camp for Girls, and never tell anyone that they can’t or shouldn’t be interested in technology, coding, or starting their own business.
How can technology be a force for good?
When applied conscientiously and correctly, technology is an equalizer: it brings the same tools, abilities, and opportunities to everyone.
Our job as responsible technologists is to constantly be vigilant that our products, communities, and the industry around us are working toward openness, inclusion, and diversity.
Help more girls learn software development. Contribute to the App Camp For Girls Indiegogo fundraiser, get a cool perk, and enjoy the feeling of having helped the next generation of software developers.