April Speight 0:00
Worry about yourself. If you spend so much time worrying about everyone else, you're just going to start to fill them in on you're gonna start to feel down about yourself and your own journey. And there's so many different factors that we aren't privy to that influence how we're how others are in their journey. And don't necessarily worry about what everyone else is doing focus on yourself and you will get there you know, assuming you put in the effort to try and such make connections, which is very important. Networking is always going to be key I will say no matter no matter what career path you decide to take, but focus on yourself. Stay in your own lane, you will get there don't let anyone else's career journey make you feel down about yours are numerous about yours. But yeah, just focus on yourself.

Tim Bourguignon 0:56
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host team building on this episode 180 I received April Speight. April started her career in luxury fashion as a menswear stylist and visual merchandiser. And she's now a senior cloud advocate for spatial computing at Microsoft. And I'll stop right there, because I don't want to say anything of her journey. So April, a warm welcome, deftly.

April Speight 1:29
Thank you. Hi.

Tim Bourguignon 1:31
It's my pleasure drive you are really, but before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the dev journey lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew, and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests, then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info and click on the Support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guest. It's my pleasure to have you. Oh, really. So April, as you know, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagined how to shape their own future. So as always on the show, let's go back to your beginning. So why don't you place the start off your directory?

April Speight 2:26
Yeah. So for me, it was when my ex husband and I separated actually, believe it or not, I was married long ago. And when I came back home, I was staying with my mom. And I said, Okay, I need to do something now, rather than just sit and wait for something that and I needed to get career back on track. And so I was nearing graduation. And I was looking for a job in the area of project management. And I figured, okay, this might be something cool to do given that in school, I was doing a program on business project management, and I said, you know, I like managing projects. So when I started looking for jobs, what I seem to have come across was that most project management jobs, you need an IT background or experience. And at no point was that ever discussed in my courses that I did. So I'm like, great, here's this skill that I technically have, but not on paper. And as most folks know, when you're applying it really whatever it ends up being on the resume, that's what recruiters look at first. So even if you do have certain knowledge, if you can't reflect that on paper, you know that you're kind of put into an uncomfortable situation with hoping that people do give you a call. So that's where I was. And I started looking for full time roles, only to realize that I probably needed to take a step back and at least look for internship first as at least my foot in the door. Coincidentally, I ended up finding an internship that was literally IT project management intern, or Yeah, IT project management intern. And I was like, what a coincidence that is the exact thing that I've been looking for, but no internship. And so I ended up interviewing for that role. And the woman who did my first interview, who became my manager, and I had told her, I said, I know that this is an internship. But I would like to work to the point where I can receive a full time offer with the organization. And she'd saw that as a good opportunity for me. And because a lot of my background was in the fashion industry when it came to doing the interview I had to do as much what's that phrase transferable skills. I had to show how I had transferable skills from a project management perspective there and how it applied to the role and it worked out which was great. And so I got hired, and believe it or not this particular organization that I was part of is or was the Consumer Technology Association. They're the ones who host international ces every year in Vegas. So I feel like for someone's first role in tech, you can't get any more tech than working in there. So I worked in the IT department there, we were a small group, maybe 912 of us nothing, nothing large. And I did tier one in terms of like helpdesk support. And I was also the person that was responsible for setting up, we were consolidating some of our different processes and systems into, into other systems that we will have less. And so I was leading those projects as well, early on, I got to have exposure to you know, the folks who sit in the outside offices, I would say, so the way that things were set up, there's cubicles in the middle, and then all around all around the perimeter are the folks that are like way higher up. So starting out, I had to do a lot of speaking with them based on one of the projects I was put together. So it was kind of like being thrown into those high level or the conversations with like high level people very early on, which became really helpful later on in my career as well. So I was doing that. And then one day, we found out that one of our co workers was retiring early. And the thing about that co worker was that he wore a lot of different hats in terms of the work. He did, and he was a developer. And so we were dividing up his task amongst everyone. And the last thing that was left was having someone to run SQL reports for our membership database. And at that point, you run a report, it's, it's more than just clicking Run, and then you're done. Like you actually need to decipher what people actually want in the report, and you know, you gotta, you gotta you got to do a little bit of coding there to set everything up. And so I said, Okay, well, I'll take that on, if that's okay. And so for me, I had a syntax background, because at one point, I did linguistics and undergrad. And so for those not familiar, it's a scientific study of language. And so it's broken between phonology, as well as syntax. I wasn't great at syntax. And that's very good if you want to if you want to understand how sentences or languages are formed. So in any case, I had a solid syntax background. So I figured you know what this, hopefully I can apply that to learning now what he had to teach me. The catch was that decision was made at the very end of the day. And so I had 10 minutes to learn how to run these reports before he was gone. Forever. You Yeah. And I will say, we got through what seemed to be the most common reports that were being asked for. And then from there, I said, Okay, well, at this point, anything else I'll need to look on the internet to find answers for and that's pretty much what I did. After he left from there on I started spending some time just learning more for Garza, SQL running my own reports just for practice as well. And that I would say, would be my very first introduction starting out at that job and honestly, volunteering at the last minute run reports. So I know it's not one of those I you know, I I went to school for it. Did you know roles related? No, it was because I volunteered.

Tim Bourguignon 8:34
Not too shabby, large end of the pool. You call that the beginning of who? Or depends on the pool. Right where it's painful.

April Speight 8:40
Yeah. So that's where it began. And I would say from there, honestly, I would fast forward to some years because after that, I did more project management work. And then I went back to fashion at one point came back to working in tech again. And then right before I moved to California, which is where I'm at now, I started doing a little bit more with Python. And I hit one of those points where I said, Okay, I'm tired of being a project manager. Developing seeing or programming looks to be cool, but what exactly what I want to do, so I thought I wanted to be a data scientist. And I said, Okay, well, what language do I need to know to be a data scientist? And so I started in Python. So I said, Alright, I can do Python, started learning Python. And then once I got to a pretty decent place with that, I started doing more data science related things only to realize that I did not like data science at all. And so I said, Okay, well I spent all this time learning this one programming language. I don't like what I thought I wanted to do. So now what do I do because I really don't want to be

Tim Bourguignon 9:52
just a cool question. Can you can you verbalize what you what you thought you were looking for into data signs?

April Speight 10:44
Yeah, and honestly, looking back, I don't even know, I think I think what really caught my eye around that time was within the area of I don't know, at the point in life, I just started learning about AI and machine learning. And then data science popped up as something else to pursue. And so I don't know what it was, that drew me towards it. I feel like I'm old now. I can't remember. But it was just something about it, where I've really thought that I really wanted to do something with it. And I think, honestly, once I started focusing on data science principles, and solar concepts and such, that's when it hit me that like, this is not what, what I want to do. And, you know, I'm glad that I realized that because as I sat there trying to figure out, what do I do now, I started looking more into chatbots. And so I thought, you know, bots are cool. I'm a big fan of anything that you can talk to, I have literally every device in this house that you can speak to. So I try not to say their names. Otherwise, they feel like they're summoned, and they decide to join the conversation. But, but that was the next path I took and I was in Virginia, no DC at the time, I decided to move to California part because my boyfriend had moved here six months prior. The other half, I was just trying to get away from the DC, Maryland, Virginia area I had been there my whole life. And I was also kind of at this point where like, I didn't have to come out here to California actually had three choices. I could either move out to California, get a job, start over doing something, I can move to New York, which is where like at the time was like my number one place, and then start over somewhere there. Or which I'm very fortunate to have had this third opportunity, I could go move with my dad down in Florida, and stay there for as long as I wanted until I figured out something. And so that third option, I feel like would have been something great if like I just graduated high school. And college wasn't on my mind. But when it came down to it, I wanted to push forward with working. And so I looked for a role that I could take one in California, I knew it couldn't get anything within the area of programming because like I've really had very, very limited experience. So I said, You know what, I'm going to take another project management role, because at least No, I, I'll do something until I figure things out. And that's what I did. But during that time I started getting I started meeting folks out here who worked in that particular area. And I got invited to an event with Twilio. And I think it was called Twilio and T and my friend Megan, who became my friend, Meg, and she invited me to that. And I went to the event, the event was focused on the Twilio quest. And so you have the different scenarios. And you set up different things here and there. And so I went to that, really excited to be there. And as I'm going through all the different exercises, I realized that there was a lot I didn't know about programming, and I was like well what Twilio has to offer in terms of you know, SMS messaging, and then they had at the time, more or less some some chatbot functionalities, which really became a thing a couple months later after that. I said I want to learn how to use this but I need to also be better at programming. So I literally went home and I just got hands on every single Python tutorial that I could so that way I could understand what was going on. And then it got to a point where I started doing a lot with what Twilio had to offer and then when he launched autopilot that was really a game changer because now it was doing a lot more with bots. And that's what I really dislike AI assistance and that's what I really really enjoyed. So I said, Okay, this is cool. I now know Python. I can I can do stuff with chat bots now because I started playing with you know, a couple of different ones. So maybe you know, I'll do something like that. Well, in the midst of all that, I was also creating YouTube videos teaching Python, because for me personally, the only way I can retain knowledge is if I also teach it because it helps identify any gaps that I might have. So I started doing those videos, and then I'll come back to those videos in a second because that part was is a very important part of my story. But time went on. And I said, Okay, I'm really tired of doing this Pm thing. And I want to go work where the programmers are. And I don't want to necessarily work on product. But I want to work within the area of advocacy. And that's how I ended up at Microsoft. But I didn't start in advocacy. I started out as a PM.

Tim Bourguignon 15:53
Just a quick question there. Did you know about advocacy back then,

April Speight 15:57
when I was when I was applying for new roles? Yes, I didn't know if advocacy then. And I had started speaking with different folks who were not necessarily at Microsoft, but other companies just to get an idea of what their roles entailed. And what I knew personally about myself was that I liked helping people, I liked educating people as well. And at the time, even though I didn't work within the realm of programming, I spent a lot of time in the developer community, because I did a lot of learning out loud if he would. So whenever I would learn something I'd like straight to Twitter and just like tweet about the whole thing and connect with folks. So the community thing, like I had doubt. And that's how I came to realize, like, Hey, I think I want to, you know, this advocacy thing. Well, I ended up getting a role at Microsoft, it was, it was as a PM. And that was great. But then it got to a point where I said, Okay, I really want to go to advocacy, the role was pretty good. The team was great. The work I was doing was fine. Unfortunately, there were some shifting priorities going on, as was most companies. And so it was starting to go into a direction of something that I knew I would not find that much joy in doing. And while that's all bubbling up, I had one day that the time Yeah, I was in California, and I was living in Hollywood at that point. So one day, my boyfriend and I, we went downstairs to go get, I think, a package or whatever. But in the midst of that, like I was checking my email on my phone, and I had an email from someone. And they were saying, Hey, I saw your YouTube videos. And mind you, this is a year later from when I first posted the initial videos. So they're like, Hey, I saw you posted these YouTube videos. I like your teaching style. Have you ever thought about writing a book? If so, you know, I work for Wiley Publishing, and I think this would be a good opportunity for you to write a children's book, let me know if you're interested. And so when I read that, I was thinking, like, who's playing on my email right now. And, you know, instantly, I went to LinkedIn to look up the person's name and to check credentials and everything. And sure enough, it was an actual acquisitions editor from Wiley. And I responded, and I said, Oh, thanks for checking out the videos. And I said, you know, I had thought about doing more so of just like a video series and a website for teaching Python, but I book hadn't ever like crossed my mind. And so I said, Yeah, let's, you know, let's chat about it. And so fast forward that a little bit, I ended up signing my very first book deal with Wiley. And it was a children's book that teaches Python, just the foundations. And I feel like it's always kind of a, for lack of a better term, an awkward conversation to have with people who are aspiring technical authors, or just authors in general with like, the larger publishing companies, because typically, when folks start book writing, unless they're self publishing, they usually go through the whole process of submitting their like manuscripts and such and pitching their ideas. But I didn't do any of that. My publisher found me. So usually, when folks want to want more idea of like, how to get the how to how to get, you know, to that point where they sign the contract. I'm not the most well versed, but where I am, well versed is what happens after you sign that contract. And so that's usually like where AI can come in and help people out. But in any case, I started writing that. And so now at this point, you know, I'm writing this book on Python, which was again, this language that I initially only learned because I thought I wanted to do data science. All the while I'm still not a developer at that point by title. I am still a pm and this is what I'm working on. So I'm like, Okay, this is cool. There's there needs to be some movement over into programming now, so that way I can bring everything full circle. And some time went by I'm writing the book summer gets here. And I go to New York because I love New York and went to visit. And I was coming back home, I was sitting in the terminal, just scrolling through Twitter. And at the time, Microsoft, we were having one of our events. And I caught some of the tweets on in my feed, and one tweet stood out to me the most. And there was a demo of someone using the HoloLens. And that part was five shore. But the part that got me most was that it was speech translation happening in real time. So the person doing the demo, she was speaking English, and she was communicating with someone who spoke Japanese. And so the translation was going back and forth from real time with this device and displaying in front of them. So that caught my eye because as I mentioned earlier on, I used to study linguistics when I was an undergrad, so like foreign languages is my thing. And so the fact that I was able to see just translate this translation happening back and forth, and in a way that it displays like on a HoloLens that was super cool to me. And I literally reached out on Twitter and had x, what do I need to get started working with this sort of technology, just someone tell me. And as fate would have it, people chimed in, and folks at Magic Leap, they reached out first and had invited me to a workshop that was being held maybe four days after that. And then folks at Microsoft that worked over in the mixed reality team had reached out to me as well. So I got home, I saw what was going on for the Magic Leap workshop. There, there was mention of what you would need to have installed on your computer, it was for beginners, but if he had some familiarity with certain things, that would be great. And then I realized C sharp was the language that would have been needed. And I was like, great, I spent all this time with Python. And now let's just throw this other language into the mix that Friday, because the workshop was on the Sunday. So that Friday and Saturday, I was learning C sharp and like as quick as I could just to get the basics. And then that Sunday was the actual workshop. And also at the same time, I was just trying to understand unity, because I had never used a game engine of any sort because I had no reason to. So it was a lot of like, quick learning. But coming to the workshop, I had the opportunity to spend a bit more time learning, which was great, but I at least wanted to go having something under my belt in terms of knowledge. And so the workshop was pretty great. And I got a cube to show and I got to see it in the device, and which was cool. And at the end of the workshop, they gifted me with a Magic Leap one. So now I had a device that I could work with at home on my own, which was pretty cool. So then I got home. And then I was flying out to a Microsoft campus for every so often I would go to mom to Microsoft to check in with my team because I was working remote. And on that visit, I had a chance to meet up with someone from the mixed reality team. And in addition to that, I also had a chance to speak with the person who would later become my manager that I have now. And they were all very nice to loan me a HoloLens. And so now I had both of these devices to work with. And I started tinkering more trying to figure out how things worked. And I at one point, I said, You know what, I want to work in this area. And I still want to work in advocacy. So there has to be a combination of the two somewhere. And as fate would have it, the team came to be, which was great. I joined last January. And I joined right around the time of MIT reality hack. And so it's a hackathon at MIT, all related to like AR and VR. So many different devices, various multiple companies take part. And what I really like about that Hackathon is that you're supposed to team up with folks who don't know, the reason why I like that is because it really it really, it really, more or less forces you to really get to know other people and work with people that you've never worked with before. And literally, that, for me was probably one of the best experience I could have ever asked for, especially for my first hackathon, because I had never been to a hackathon prior to that. And at that same time, I had just started on the team at Microsoft. And now I'm at MIT reality hack participating in my very first hackathon. And I meet these meet these guys that came from various backgrounds one had has been in VR for like 20 years. Here's another he owned, he had his own company. And he was starting up in the space, another had more of a JavaScript background. And he was interested in the space. And then another also had a JavaScript background as well. And I think also more of like, I think marketing, and that was taken. But in any case, a lot of interest was was in the mix. And, and it was me. So we worked on this project throughout the hackathon. And the goal, first of all, was to just finish a project. That was the first goal. Because you know, with hackathons, you don't have a ton of time, I think we had two days total to create something. But we ended up creating a dysgraphia. And it's called spellbound.

April Speight 25:44
And it's a it's a VR therapy app for children who have dyslexia, oh, my gosh, I cannot think of this Lexia, dyslexia and dysgraphia, to help with their letter formation and their word recognition. And we created it with like this wizard character, and then the child would have like this one where they have to, like spell the words and they have to say the words that they're spelling out loud to do the magic, the magic trick, or whatever it was. And in addition to that, the results from what they did pulled into a data report that then the therapists, the speech therapists, if you will, will have access to so sounds very ambitious, we very much did everything that needed that the app made it to do. And as we went through the judging rounds, things were starting to go better than we thought we were like, Oh, wait, people are packing up to go home. And we're not told to pack up to go. Because there are multiple rounds of judging, and you can tell with some folks who hadn't made it to the next round. And so turns out, we made it all the way to the finals. And they had like various categories that you could compete in. And so we chose two different ones. One was best in health and wellness, and then the other. Oh, my goodness, I'm losing it. But there were two categories, basically, by the end of the whole hackathon, we won in both categories. And, yeah, we had, like, we were shocked, because like I told you, our goal was just to finish in the beginning, and we finished it. And we got, we wanted two categories. And for someone that was like, no first week, literally working in that space, that was really the biggest confidence boost I could have ever asked for. Because at that point, I felt more capable, you know, coming into the role that I was coming into, especially since now, that is more or less what I will be doing or the area I will be working in every single day. And so that is literally how my first job by title as developer started, which was, you know, being hired going right to a hackathon, our team winning in two categories. And now I'm like, in the mix. And you know, of course, there's so much more story. Now that in mind you that was just as of last year, you know, since since last year, a lot has happened, I got a second book deal. So I started doing a second book, also related to Python. And then that published this year in 2021. And just throughout the year, it's been pretty great spending time getting to know the people who are creating with regards to AR and VR. I personally love seeing what folks are doing with the technology and not even if it's just like what we have to offer at Microsoft, but just in general, seeing what folks are making, there are some very creative use cases. And then there's also some that you know, can be more so like life saving as well. Because when you start to get into areas like medical, for example, but then also seeing apps being used in more of an academic way is also pretty cool. I love anything academic. And so that's also what led our team to working more in that space. So even now, within the past year, whenever I've done different talks, or demos, there's usually some academic component to it. Like one of the apps that I made for HoloLens was was like a world tour of monuments. And so pretty much I had small models of different World Monuments and then when you picked one you could expand it to like a really like to like very large size and then there were like facts available and because I love bots, I added a bot to it so that way you can ask the bot questions and the bot would respond to you. And so I really got to like tie in more of my interests in that. But I would say like for the role that I'm in now, I personally really love it because I like helping other people get started within the space. And this is such still in some cases like very new technology and nothing is like ecstatic in terms of like nothing, nothing just stays the same, something's always changing. And I think that's why I like working in this space more rather than taking a role that was solely focused on Python, because you know, the language language isn't going to change. But technology and product will change. And so I'm like, let me be there, where I know there will be changes or something to look forward to. And and yeah, so that's where I've landed. Now, as of yesterday, it was announced, I was promoted at work. And so now I lead our spatial computing cloud advocacy team at Microsoft. The role itself, it's very interesting, but interesting in the sense that when I was speaking with my manager, before I joined the team, I had told him that one of my like, end goals or career goals was to be that person responsible for for the strategy of the direction of the team strategy and how we create and produce and execute content. And so in ways the role that I have now it encompasses all that, which is great. So when I learned that the news, I really felt like wow, actually just hit a career milestone set for myself. So now it's like, well, what do I want to do next? Now that I've achieved this, you know, and and yeah, so that's the latest news, I would say, that I would have around that. But yeah, this journey, I would say has been, it's, it's been a journey. You know, starting as someone who I did not go to school for anything Tech, I went to school, I had six majors, I want to say an undergrad before I graduated. And what I finally graduated with, with my bachelor's was in Global Business and Public Policy, which is international business. And then I went to grad school, but I went to grad school for luxury and fashion management. So I didn't do anything necessarily, that would have prepared me from a technical perspective for what I do now. However, what it has prepared me for though, given that technically, both of my degrees were or are business related. It helps me understand how helps me and it helps me understand how the business operates, how what work I do contributes to the business needs the business goals. And I can appreciate that a lot when it comes to understanding why certain directions are being taken. In addition, that second degree I got the one for for grad school. So I went to a art and fashion school for grad school Savannah College of Art and Design, if anyone's familiar with it, it's SCAD. And it's one of the top like fashion schools and art schools in the country here. And as part of that program, we got to new things around the area of like branding and marketing, I spent time doing stuff with like the Adobe Creative Suite. So I got to really develop a lot of these creative skills, which was great. The reason why I share that it's because in what I do now, as an advocate, we create content, we create a good amount of content, all that's been really helpful for the sort of role that I'm doing now. But that's also why I'm glad I didn't join product team, because it would have been a different experience. For me, I love working with the product teams that we partner with. But from like a day to day perspective, I really like being able to touch base with what everyone in the industry is up to, and most important to help folks get started. And that is where my journey is as of today.

Tim Bourguignon 33:34
And this is a hell of a roller coaster. Impressive. I'd like to come to one thing to come back to one thing, a couple of things. But let's pick the first one first during this hackathon, which was basically your your your graduation in getting getting finally in this tech career, how did you find your place in in this team? How did you muster enough courage and over overcome your imposter syndrome and everything to find your place and, and be part of the team?

April Speight 34:05
So one thing about me is that I am a very open person, if I don't understand something, I will tell you, I will not sit back and pretend that that I am a genius because eventually you have to keep up the lie. And that's too much to do especially in that sort of environment. So as we were doing team formations, and when we started just connecting with other folks, I was very upfront I was like look, I just started working on this stuff maybe six six months ago because that's really when I started just learning and I said I wasn't doing it full time. It was only in my spare time you know, I know my way around unity a little bit but I you know I am not a genius and honestly, that made a big difference because you realize you share that with someone next thing you know their responses. Oh, me too. And it's like, Oh, great. So that really made a difference and being able To find others that you can relate with. And it's not to say that like, we didn't understand anything tech, it was more. So there were certain things that we were stronger in than others. And that was really helpful. And I really appreciated that about our team, because we all had different things to offer. Now, for me personally, with the project that we did, as I mentioned, probably a million times now, speech and language is my thing. And so I was able to contribute to the speech recognition part that we made for the app. And so I was really happy to like say, this is a thing that I had worked on, with the help of some other people too, but

April Speight 35:42
yeah, and you know, I will say that that's what I found to even now today to be the thing that helps me get past impostor syndrome is being upfront, when, when I know I'm not as comfortable in certain areas from a technical perspective than others. But usually what ends up happening is, if something is asked or expected of me, and I don't have the knowledge, I will then go spend time learning it so that way I can be more up to par. And honestly, that's, that's what I did this summer, because I spent the whole last year doing stuff here and there with scripting with C sharp, but like I didn't really had a chance to like sit down and like really like soak in the language. And so this summer, I spent like a month, just going back and re learning C sharp. So that way I can become stronger this year, as I'm working on more demos and such. But for me, just being upfront being open about it is nothing to be ashamed of. And I feel that what I found what I've sometimes noticed, not every time but sometimes what I noticed is that I ended up knowing more than I thought I knew. And that's always that's always really nice, too. But in that hackathon environment, yeah, it can be intimidating if you get there. And I mean, there were a ton of team. So it was not a small hackathon by any means. And I can understand why it may seem that it's it's a might be a little it might be a little scary to approach folks and say, Hey, you want to be on a team, I only know 10% And what you know, but But what I also really liked about that hackathon, too, was that it was open to all skill sets and level. So the expectation wasn't for anyone to come in and be a genius, it was more Do you have an interest in this area? Do you have a passion in helping others because a lot of the projects that were being created, it wasn't just like silly things here. And there, it was more. So this has to help contribute towards some some way of helping like the world, you know, the community, things like that. And that was the one thing I would say is probably what mattered most being there. And I feel like after that the you know, the knowledge comes later. But having that that passion there it was, was most important. So for the hackathon, and in life, that's how I overcome impostor syndrome.

Tim Bourguignon 38:11
Awesome. Since I have you on the line, I don't want to ask you how you got your book deal. But just what came just after? And before you wrote it? I've heard many stories about O'Reilly and how, how adult books are written, and especially the the headfirst ones. And it really guidelines, the guidelines, how it's supposed to be structured and everything. How did you and O'Reilly approach a children's book?

April Speight 38:38
Yeah. So my publisher is Wiley. So I can't speak too much to O'Reilly as a different publisher. But for Wiley, though, so my first book was children's, my second book was adults. My first book, though, I pretty much had free range on how the book would be structured, because it was it was something newer for them. And so just as it was new for me writing a children's book, it was newer for them to now carry out this new direction of technical children, titles as well. And I think my title was like the first of other ones that they were doing. And so it was like, guinea pig over here, you know. And it was, it was a lot of it was a collaborative effort. But a lot of looking at me in terms of, well, how would How would you want to structure this book, you know, for children, and so I'm really I'm happy for that because I did get to have a larger say, and what I thought would be great. And so in addition to that, there's a typical, you know, the way that you actually write the book out and stuff and like the word processors for me as Microsoft Word so there's those things I do still have to do as well. We still have the editors that are go through things, but more so from the how it's structured, and the look and feel was more left in my hand. And because it's a children's book, tour, new books have to have illustrations. So I said Okay, I'll do the illustrations. So not only that I write the book, I also did the illustrations in the book. And at one point, we at some point in your book writing, you start to have a conversation around book cover. And so typically what will happen is the publisher and their design team will create the book cover, they'll share with the author, the author gives feedback, the design team goes, make updates, what have you. Well, we went through, I want to say three or four different iterations of my book cover. And one day my acquisitions editor reached out, he said, You know what, I just don't like the book cover. It's not really you. And I think this book really needs to moreso reflect you. So I was like, Okay, well, then let me know try to put something together. And I started well, no, that how it approach? No, that's actually no, I'm gonna take that back. That did happen. But after what I'm about to say happened, so he said, yeah, it needs to be more you. I was like, Oh, okay. So then he said, So I then went online and found some some pictures that you drew, and I was like, Oh, he was like, and we'd like this direction instead. And it was like, at one point, I had create, I had like a little teeny tiny, small business. And I made stickers, it was a tech stickers. And they did they depict it different, like black children that worked in tech, because like, when it comes to like tech swag, you really see that as stickers. So I started drawing that making that sold them until they sold out. And then I was like, business is done now. But somewhere out there, there was a picture still floating around. And my acquisitions editor found it. So then when I was on the call, and he popped up with that, I was like, How did you even get your hands on? But he said that, you know, he liked it, the team liked it. And that's what they wanted to use for my approach to the book cover. So I was like, Oh, okay. So then I was like, I guess I'm doing the book cover now too. And then I created the book cover as well. And so on my book, which is bite sized Python, Intro to Introduction to python programming. The cover is me, the interior illustrations is also me. And then the formatting as well is also me as well. So that was a very, very unicorn case of, of how that got approached. But I was also very fortunate with the opportunity to choose my technical editor, which I believe is a normal thing, folks can choose their editors. And so I chose someone that I had worked with, when I first started at Microsoft, he had edited a report that I had put together, and the feedback that he gave was like, it was great. It was what I was looking for. It was like a it was a it was a really good critique of what I had written. And I appreciate that. I know some folks, they they don't want to hurt people's feelings. And so they get a little iffy about really providing what they thought, but like he actually gave constructive criticism. So I said, Okay, this is great. So when I was told to pick a technical editor, I said, I'm gonna choose him. And he, he had been writing Python for as long as I've been alive. So I was like, There's no better person than to like, go with him. And he had written books and such. So then I had him on my team to critique on my work. On top of that, one of the other editors from Wiley also helped out too. And then both individuals had children. So while they were reading the book, they also had children go through it too, which was also great. So now actually had like real children going through it. And given their feedback of what makes sense, what doesn't make sense? Why are things this way or not. And that's how that that children's book one was. But the second book I did was for adults, or is for adults. And with that one, not as much creative freedom. As I had for the first book, the publisher had an idea of how they wanted the book to be what they wanted, the content consists of more or less, at that point, it was more so with my hands to come up with an outline of what the book would entail. And from there started writing. So it was kind of like night and day in terms of approaches. But really, I feel like for a very first flight book, having that much creative control and freedom is like probably a once in a lifetime thing for a first time. For first time technical author, I feel so if you ever had that opportunity, definitely take it but also no book writing is not something that you just do in your spare time for fun. And that said, it is a very big commitment. My first book took almost a year. And then my second book, much shorter time, I think I only had six months to write that one. So yeah, it's in in six months may seem like oh, you're done sooner. No, that's not what that means. What it means is you're cramming more into a shorter timeframe for a longer book, but I got both done, but that's the one thing I always love to tell people want to write is that you have to be committed to this if you're going to start it in and be honest with your own personal bandwidth, because you know, you might have a lot of time on your hands now. But will you still have a lot of time for mumps down the road and you still have this book that you're contracted to do, and there's like, technically you could back out. But then that's when money gets involved. You don't want to go down that route. So it was kind of like you have to do it. So fully consider if you have the commitment.

Tim Bourguignon 45:26
To say yes to a third book yet.

April Speight 45:29
I haven't. I am on a very long break from book writing right now. So I I've actually been asked twice, no, by my publisher and someone else. And no, it's break time, I am enjoying all my free time that I have right now. I started doing very miscellaneous things like just yesterday, I shared on Instagram, I got a really big order of Lego pieces. And because I decided I want to start getting into Lego motion and making my own little videos. And so I spent, like, I spent a couple of weeks going through this one website for stuff and I finally like committed to some stuff to buy. I think my time I do the conversion because it was in pounds. I think I spent 300 US dollars. And I don't mean like full sets, I mean, like little pieces. So that's a lot of pieces that you know, I purchased. And so I've been doing things like that I told I told one of my friends that at some point, if not this year, the next year, I think I want to go spend like two months doing like horseback riding lessons and then like that sit because one of the good things about working at Microsoft is that one of our benefits includes like health staying fit, and it also it also can contribute to like hobbies that you have and you know, horseback riding is physical. So I was like yes, maybe sometime next year, I'll try horseback riding for a bit. But lately I've just been picking up new hobbies to try I started doing like shoe making at one point. So like I have supplies and make shoes. I've always been a bit into like designing and making clothes. So I do that sometimes, I started making like Barbie clothes. I do like if I turned around behind me I have a Barbie that I make clothes for I started doing some gardening. So this is my me time I started skating. So like I have roller skates behind me. And pretty much like the way I describe it. I am my own child. So I signed myself up for stuff to keep me busy. That's literally how I feel sometimes. But with that said, I'm enjoying my freedom. Does that mean on the read another book? I don't know. Honestly, it really depends. I think I'm done for Python for now, though. Not that I don't like it. But I just don't do anything with it in my life right now. And so that was one of the things I struggled with. With my last book was the book is focused on Visual Studio code for Python programmers with more focus on VS code. But the problem is, I work in Visual Studio now. And that Visual Studio code and they're very different. And so I can tell you everything about VS code now, but I don't use it every day. And that's where things can start to get a little overwhelming because I'm spending so much time focusing on one thing then I can't even apply it to what I do on my day to day job now. So that's why I think going for probably, you know, April's pythons Greatest Hits are done, but

Tim Bourguignon 48:37
good enough good to know, I have one eye on the clock. I would like to keep talking and talking and talking. But what is the one advice that you heard during your roller coaster journey that really helped you and you would like TT to give again?

April Speight 48:51
Yes, yes, I feel many folks have heard this said so many different ways and phrases, but the way I like to phrase it is stay in your own lane. And the reason why I say that and then what it means is, as you're learning as you're trying to reach goals, you're going to notice that so many people around you are getting to play you know, maybe potentially sooner than you or they may be getting opportunities that have never come your way. Or you may find that like you're trying to learn this one concept that someone else got in like, you know, 20 minutes, but now it's taking you like monks. That doesn't matter Worry about yourself. If you spend so much time worrying about everyone else, you're just going to start to fill them in on you're gonna start to feel down about yourself in your own journey. And there's so many different factors that we aren't privy to that that influence how we're how others are in their journey. And don't necessarily worry about what everyone else is doing focus on yourself and you will get there you know, assuming you put in the effort to try and such make connections which is very important. Networking is always going to be key I will say no matter no matter what career path You decide to take, but focus on yourself, stay in your own lane, you will get there. Don't let anyone else's career journey make you feel down about yours are numerous about yours. But yeah, just focus on yourself.

Tim Bourguignon 50:15
And you cannot see you. But I've been nodding heavily for the past two minutes. I feel this is a blast, I totally grew older, thank you very much, where would be the best place to start a discussion with you or continue this discussion about roller coasters and all the rest?

April Speight 50:32
Yeah, I have two places. So the first is going to be on Twitter. And my handle is Vogan code. So that's Vogue, v OGUE. And then A and D and C O D, so building code. And then you can also reach out to me on my website, there's a contact page on there for my email address. And that's also you can go to just figure out where I might be speaking or anything if anything's coming up. But the website is going to be WWW dot Vogon code.com. Also, if you happen to type in April's bayt.com, it redirects there. So you'll be able to find either way. And then for anyone that's that goes on LinkedIn. I'm also on LinkedIn as well. And so I try to check those messages every so often. I'm not there to too much. But I do check, I do check, I get the notifications. So I will respond with those. Those three would be the best ways to follow up with me and to just check in to see what's going on.

Tim Bourguignon 51:31
Awesome. And now I have the links to the show notes. So just scroll down and click on that. April. Thank you very, very much. It's been it's been a blast. It's been a bedtime story for me. I'm thrilled.

April Speight 51:43
Thanks for having me. And

Tim Bourguignon 51:45
this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we'll 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 email info at Deaf journey dot info. Talk to you soon.