#168 Shannon Kendall quit acting to follow a new creative dream
Introduction and Early Life (00:00)Shannon Kendall, began her journey in an entirely different industry. She initially pursued acting, gaining a degree in Theater and Film, and worked in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles for a decade. However, an unexpected turning point occurred when she discovered the world of coding.
Finding Inspiration and The Learning Process (05:11)Shannon discovered their passion for coding following a friend who had enrolled in a Bootcamp. Intrigued, Shannon started learning programming using the learning platform Treehouse. Their first experience with coding was exciting and engaging, similar to the feeling of "falling down a rabbit hole". Shannon further bolstered their learning with resources like FreeCodeCamp and YouTube tutorials.
Overcoming Challenges and Breaking into Tech (09:47)Shannon highlighted the importance of problem-solving and resourcefulness in development. Learning to code was challenging and sometimes frustrating, but she realized that finding solutions to problems was a crucial part of the job. she started applying for jobs and landed their first role at a startup after a year and a half of self-study. Shannon underlines that "It's less about the speed at which you learn and more about the determination to keep trying, keep learning, and to be resilient."
Understanding Developer Evangelism and Aligning Career Goals (14:23)Shannon initially considered becoming a developer evangelist, but she later realized it wasn't compatible with their lifestyle. The constant travel and high-demand nature of the role wasn't what she wanted. Instead, she focused on improving their coding skills and exploring other areas of tech. Shannon suggests that "it's important to continuously check in with yourself, reevaluate your career goals, and understand that she can change over time."
Applying Soft Skills to Coding (17:05)Despite transitioning from acting to coding, Shannon emphasized that her theater background was not wasted. She discussed how acting skills such as teamwork, communication, and understanding people's emotions were all beneficial in the coding world. These "soft skills" played a significant role in code review processes, empathizing with users, and working within a team.
Encouraging Inclusivity (21:28)Shannon enjoys the supportive work environment and the culture of learning. She has also been actively involved in promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, including participating in an ERG (Employee Resource Group) for queer individuals. Shannon believes that creating an inclusive work environment is essential, not only for employees but also for fostering creativity and productivity.
Encouraging Others to Enter Tech (27:42)Shannon encourages others interested in tech to give it a try, stressing that there are no specific prerequisites for learning to code. she highlighted that even their wife, who initially felt that coding was too technical, started to enjoy learning CSS and HTML. She stresses that anyone can learn to code, and that self-doubt should not be a barrier.
Reevaluating Your Dream and Being Open to Change (34:11)Shannon advises those in the tech field to continuously reevaluate their career aspirations and give themselves permission to change. It is crucial to understand your wants and needs as they evolve. Your career is much more about who you are as a person than how quickly you can debug something. Shannon emphasizes that "all previous experiences matter," as they all contribute to who you are and what you bring to your role.
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Shannon Kendall 0:00
I am significantly more creative being a software developer than I was being an artist just because of the way that like life in our society is structured.
Tim Bourguignon 0:17
Shannon Kendall 1:48
So like in retrospect, when you think about it, it started like in my early childhood, so I guess I can start there, like, and then as you said, it clicks in 2017. But so my so my father went to school, he was a computer engineer, like on the hardware side, like when computers are brand new, like in the 70s. And so he's always been obsessed with with personal computers. He's a PC guy. And so like I remember when he brought home like the first one and like we had dos like I learned how to operate dos. As a little baby child, we had one game, it was a Mickey Mouse game. And like I distinctly remember we had it was back like when there's only like eight colors on a screen. So so it was like nightmare Disney. It was like, because it was like because it was like magenta trees. And like the sun was like green for some reason. And like because they only have so many colors to choose from a moment ago. It might have been yellow, but you get the picture where like things that shouldn't be red or red and like very saturated red. Yeah, it was child's game but like I feel uncomfortable
Tim Bourguignon 3:00
to literally really just how you would make a game if you wanted to make it some kind of LSD nightmarish game.
Shannon Kendall 3:07
Tim Bourguignon 12:55
Oh, well, maybe even more than that.
Shannon Kendall 12:57
Tim Bourguignon 19:10
I'm just thinking about an interviewer having the same voice You said before that and then saying, well can can you balance a tree for me? Please That's emotional
Shannon Kendall 19:36
Tim Bourguignon 26:52
And it's the same for for for spoken language as well. So you know, there's some kind of grammar, you know, it the structure should be something similar, at least for for Western languages. There's something like a noun, there must be something like a verb. Like an adjective. You don't know the words, but as soon as you start mapping out, you quite fast realize, okay, it's the same structure. It's just a different thing. Yeah. Is it German? And that's, that's it? Yeah.
Shannon Kendall 27:18
It's like, it's like, it's kind of like these rules a little bit more. And like, this one's this language a little bit like those kinds of rules a little bit more, but like, even between languages, like they, they borrow from each other, and it's really interesting when like, I, my coworker, like I have co workers from all over the world. It's that was really exciting for me. We live in in New York and then just also like, working at my company, but I grew up in like small town California, like in like Central California, not even like cool parts of California, super suburbia surrounded by Yeah, it's so funny because like, my town itself was very, like, quote unquote, diverse. Like, we were the most ethnically diverse cities like city for the long time in in America, because and I think it was because of like, economic diversity. It just like it was basically like people have like all classes, you know, like, there's, there's different people in all classes, or the socio economy socio net? Yeah, yeah, it was socioeconomically diverse. So, you know, I mean, it's, there's obviously, like, still the same trends, but so like, I kind of initially grew up not thinking that there was any difference between people like I was taught, you know, like, like, especially from the 90s. They're like, we're all the same treat everyone the same. Like, it doesn't matter what your skin color is. And like I took, I took so much like the messaging and as a kid that we were taught about being good people like to heart. It's been very disorienting, like becoming an adult and seeing that most people don't believe the things that they taught us to believe. That was all just to manipulate you into behaving because they didn't want the headache. So then, so then when I became an adult, and realize how little I knew of the world, and that I couldn't afford to travel because I wanted to be an actress, like moving to a city with so much diversity was like really enriching because it felt like at least like I was getting to experience the culture that people were bringing there like with them, learning about people who have like walks of life that I never would consider because it just wasn't even like an example. I love that and like I love especially my company like it's a it's a really fairly diverse company. I know they get like they get like a lot of awards for like being like super LGBT friendly and super the like super like the really like they really care about their company culture. So it's it's mattered a lot to me. But yeah, so like, as far as languages go, like I so I would have like co workers on my team who were like from India and Pakistan and like China, and like, we have multiple teams like this up near each other. So then they're all talking like, I remember asking my my coworker from Pakistan, because she She's like my mentor, she like taught me how to use the platform on her own company. And I was like, Oh, I didn't know you spoke Hindi. And she's like, I'm not speaking Hindi. I'm speaking Urdu. And I'm like, Are they speaking Urdu back to your shows? No, they're speaking Hindi. We just understand each other. And I was like, that's the thing. Why? It's like, like, I can understand why I found no problem. I don't write Python, but like I can understand what's going on you I mean, it's the same thing where you're like, it's close enough. Like, can you figure out where you're going? You know, I might have to Google the actual rules. But like, I'm figuring out I can I can tell what you're doing. I used to be very self conscious about the fact that it's like, oh, then I worked for this company where we weren't doing what every other company does, like how am I going to find a job again, like if I want to move on, because like, I'm very aware of like, unconscious bias. And there's a lot of like, Bro culture, even in coding and development, and like this, like weird competitiveness that I am not interested in. Like, I was like, a little self conscious about that until I realized, it's like, first of all, no one knows what they're doing ever in anything in life. Everyone is pretending all the time. And they're figuring it out as they go, I've been such an asset to my team, like, I've contributed so much to different projects that we've been working on that it's like, there's no way that like, if I wanted, like, if it was time for me to move on, that, that I wouldn't be able to find a company where it's like, yeah, I'll have to do like a lot of learning. But like, I would have to do that. Regardless, even if I was like, fluently writing in, you know, like, 18 different libraries, like at this one place, like I moved in another place, I'm gonna have to relearn all their libraries, I'm gonna have to relearn how they structure their app, I'm gonna have to relearn everything anyway. Like, I'm going to feel like a dumb baby, just like when I changed jobs as a server. And and like, I worked with different clientele, you know, where it's like, you have to learn how to treat like locals versus tourists. Like, I can do the same thing where it's like, you know, I'm looking working at this company versus this company, like, how do you react to them, even changing teams enough times where, like, I get so used to one team dynamic, and then you change teams and like, completely different people completely different personalities you're working with, I was going through, like, here's all like the the checklist of like responsibility before you hand something off. You know, unlike my, my first team, it was like all women, and we were like hyper communicative. And we would talk about every, like, we would double check with everyone that were on the same page, we would just be like, Hey, I'm just filling you in. So you're aware, like, we were super hyper competitive, like communicative. And I'm doing the same thing to my new team. And they're, like, Stop telling me these things. I don't care cool. Like, you know, I mean, they weren't like, obviously that rude. But it was like that thing of like, you're, you're so much. And yeah, so it's just like having that experience of like, going through it and being like, nobody knows what they're doing. And it's like, your experience is honestly the best teacher you'll ever have. So I then, like hit a point where I was like, I really, I really like what I'm doing. I was like panicking for a while being like, Okay, how do I get up to management? Or how do I increase my salary? Or how do I do this. And then I was just like, I like my work life balance right now. I like I like my team I'm working on like, the projects I'm working on, I like my company culture. Like my, my company has like that progressive thing where like, every, like performance review, you're like moving up and stuff like that. And they're discussing how to get to the next level. And it's not just like about your job, like, it's not just about your job title, but it's kind of like what level you're at, in the company, all that kind of stuff, I don't understand how performance reviews worked at all, or four pay scales, like, I still don't kind of get that, but that's fine. Like, that was the thing that I was missing by being like, by being in a career that wasn't suited for me. Now I had permission to do all the creative things that I didn't have energy to do before. So like now, like, it's almost like, I am significantly more creative. Being a software developer than I was being an artist just because of the way that like life in our society is structured.
Tim Bourguignon 33:31
It sounds like you find a nice place both for you or they were for the balance and and for you get for what you get out of it. So
Shannon Kendall 33:39
I think figuring out that for myself and giving my permission like myself permission to be like, you know, like, like I said, I was raised Christian and like, there's a part of me that was always like, um, but like, what if it's not real? I want to live forever, in live forever by being on film camera, or I don't know, like, part of me things. So like a lot of that, like, I genuinely loved acting, but like, what, what motivates you when you're a scared child, you know, to make those decisions that you make? And I you know, and that's what that's what I had been told was reality my whole life. But even even then, I was starting to be like, do I do i Is that reality? Is that what I'm perceived, like, you know, like, as you're perceiving the world, you're like, these are making sense, moving through all that. And then And then finally, hitting the point where it's like, Screw all of this, when I'm gonna just start over. Start from a fresh slate start from a great place. Like I knew, like, I basically my my whole goal with becoming a developer wasn't a career goal, so much as it was a life goal of like, where I wanted to get in life, and how would I get there? And how would I get there in a timeline that I can accept and without pushing my dreams even further away? These dreams that I've already been pushing off for so long,
Tim Bourguignon 34:55
maybe that will be done to place to link this to the beginning in form of an advice you had you had a nudge in form of your wife nudging you into into questioning yourself and asking you, are you? Are you following the right dream? How could someone realize this Without this help? How could you have realized this yourself without without her help?
Shannon Kendall 35:16
I do similar things with her what you know, current acting, as you've probably surmised, from my own story is an emotional hellscape. It is a roller coaster of good, good victories and long planes of despair. And so like we like we'll have similar conversations when she's getting really frustrated, but like hers always turned into, you know, like, it's like an agreement of like, No, this is the right path for me. So it's a different thing. But it's kind of like, for me, like that specific question was kind of like a bug that got in my head. And then one morning, I woke up, and it was kind of like, it bloomed maybe was a seed planted in my head. And then one morning, I woke up, like, literally, I just woke up, it was like, in April of 2017. And I was just like, I was living with a narcissistic roommate, who was just like, terrible. And like, we had like a, like, we had to sell that room I was going in, it was just like a really terrible living situation. And I like I'm sure we had like thought that night about like him stealing something from my room without asking or something. So like, I woke up, and I was just like, I don't like this, like, I don't like where I am in life. And my options are to accept it, or to change it. And I'm going to change it. So now I just need to figure out how it was like, I already knew that I was going to do that thing. Like I'm going to do a massive change, like complete, complete 360 With where my life is going. Now. 180 Complete one. But like, I'm going to do it, you know, and so then it was like, from there. So then it was like, Okay, so like, you know, like, what could I go into? What are different fields that I if I want to change what I'm doing, and so it's just kind of like working from there. And I was like, looking at my research. So I reached out to my friend who was like, What are you doing with with coding? What is this? Like, I've heard they make decent money? Is it just like math? And she's like, No, I hate math. You'll be great at coding, it's fine. And I was like, how do you know? We only know like, we only know each other because we went to like cast parties like, like, how do you know that? She's like, I can tell my like, trust me do it. Just try it. And I did. And like she was right. It was really good. And I told my wife, I was like, like, my wife has like, you know, like, like dig gigs and stuff like that, that she does to bring in some money on top of her acting. And so I was just like, this is something that you would probably like at first she was like, no, no, it's too much math. And I'm like, It's not math. She's like, you're crazy smart. You're a genius. I didn't know that's when we started dating. But now that you've started developing and talking like a developer, it's, it's like magic. It's science talk. And I'm like, No, it's just terms. Like we're just using terms. And so she actually she started, like poking into like CSS and HTML. And she she liked it. Like, he's just like, oh, this is I could start I was like, I hate CSS personally, if you can figure it out good for you. But I was like, if you want like, here's a free like, you could do a free course. You know, like, cuz she runs like social media. And she'll like throw the other websites. So like having that knowledge under her belt isn't like she's using like Squarespace and stuff like that. But like it's not, you know, it's like, it's always good. And I was like, you know, like, it'd be a fun day job. She uses front end and back end correctly. I'm like, surprised. She's like, this is terrible. You X and I'm like, Yeah, terminology. She's like, it's cute, because she like she hears me using it. And then she'll like, pick it up and start doing it. We'll make sure to like, say it. And it's really anyway, that's not a question you asked. It's like advice of like, Is this really your dream? I think we play a lot of narratives for ourselves that like we don't even know where they started. Sometimes it's like something that happened in our childhood that we don't realize that we carried with us everywhere. If you're in therapy, maybe you're already dealing with some stuff. But But yeah, I think it's it's checking in with, like, what you actually want out of life is probably like a really healthy thing. And it's going to change, again, is going to change because I didn't know to want what I wanted. When I decided to be an actor, like I didn't know how to want these simple things because I hadn't like lived enough without them to understand like what it would mean to me to have it or to like have a freedom or whatever a peace of mind. Even like I didn't understand the value of that when I was at young because I'd never lived without it. And so like continuously to check in with yourself. Even I was like I told you like my goals for my career shifted, as I continued to live it and I continued to look around like I thought I was going to be a developer evangelist at first until I realized that they travel like, every other weekend and I was like, No, I don't want to be that way from my cats and my wife and my dog and like my home, you know that much. So like that's not what I wanted. You know, I thought I wanted to go into management and then I was like looking at how much time that takes Because like, I don't want that either, you know, like, I have ADHD, I can't multitask like that, like, I need to, like, I need like zone in on my development. And like, I can't be in a meeting and completing work at the same time. Where if I do, I'm like doing like, half as good at both things, you know, I'm building out that skill, but I thought my ADHD focus would like be a superpower. Until like corporate America told me that it's not, don't listen to them. My favorite little, I mean, like my most productive days, the days where I don't have meetings, and I can just like Time flies, I don't even notice, like how long it's like it's gone. Because I'm just like, hyper focused on my development. It's, it's nice. Yeah. So I would say, to answer your question, yet again. I know, I know it. Yeah, I think it's just it's that process of constantly reevaluating what you want, and giving yourself permission for it to be different. And that doesn't mean all the work that you did before, doesn't matter. Because I've explained like 18 times already how like, all my experience serving and acting has, like translated into my career. And it's all these ways that it's not the code and it's not development, like you and I haven't talked about that almost at all, you know, your career is so much more about who you are as a person, then, like how fast you can debug something, or like, like how quickly you can get a page up. Like that's not, that's not like what your career is going to be. And
Tim Bourguignon 41:31
hence this job, if I may say, this podcast, that's yeah, that's why I'm doing this. Amen to that. Anything, Chen, thank you very much. It's been it's been a bumpy ride and very interesting. Thank you very much. Where would be the best place to find you online and start discussions about baking sourdough bread? Sourdough, and maybe something more
Shannon Kendall 41:55
my also my sourdough. My sourdough. I if I if I make one. Since my move, I have to get this start. I dehydrated the starter, I got to start it up again. I was doing some pretty cool sourdough art, posting it on my Instagram, which is that's your show notes. Yeah, it's a S N. Kendall. Just like like my email address. Oh, no, don't put that part in. I don't want people emailing me. And then my Twitter is same thing. But I have an underscore, because apparently there's someone else who was on Twitter before me that use that handle. I mean, that's it, I will forewarn you that I post all of my interests, so it's not just code related. So there probably be like a lot of like, nerdy queer content. A lot of bad reposts of political takes. No, not really. I tried. I tried to like I tried to really double like to, like really think before I post something that somebody because I just get annoyed about, like a lot of engagement from strangers. I did a couple of tiktoks. But then, when my tick tock videos went viral, like I said, I got very, very overwhelmed by strangers interacting with me. And I wouldn't get afraid to like, check. So I like lurking but yeah, I said that I probably post the most on my Instagram, if you want the most, the most on Shannon, but if you if you really like if anyone does want to reach out to me, um, and kind of ask for a know more about my experience because it relates to you in some way. Like, feel free. Just, you know, don't just like pop in and say hey, cuz that's creepy. Like actually like, say, state your purpose. And like, if someone's like, heartfelt I can feel it, obviously. But if I if I get creepy vibes, then I probably won't respond. So I get enough of that. So I don't need more.
Tim Bourguignon 43:50
Oh, good. Chen, thank you very, very much. Thank you. And this has been another episode of Deborah's journey. We see each other next week. Bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you liked the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appears on on our website, Dev journey dot info slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Would you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Dev journey dot info slash donate. And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o t h e p or per email info at Dev journey dot info Talk to you soon