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Climbing Nerd Mountain

A blog post by the resident non-Nerd, about learning to Nerd. Includes gifs, and no technical jargon.

I joined Media Suite earlier this year, fresh from five years as a journalist, mostly working the lifestyle department writing about avocados and the Kardashians.

Gif of a Kardashian in the passenger seat of a moving car, shaking her hands in an excitable way

This is a Kardashian.

I graduated in Philosophy, Political Science and Journalism. Needless to say, my knowledge of web development was pretty limited. In fact, it was almost non-existent.

I was hired as the Client Services Guru, a role which encompasses everything from liaising with our clients to organising Christmas party and delegating work tasks around the team – and anything else required (which is quite a long list!). Every day is different.

Gif of a woman nodding but with a blank face, indicating she is bored or doesn't understand what is being said

Mostly, not understanding stuff.

My first day here was a baptism by fire. Acronyms flew around the room so quickly I found myself frantically writing a list of those I didn’t understand (all of them). I was given a crash course in about 10 different softwares to complete tasks I barely comprehended and people kept saying “front end” and “back end”.

I turned to Google for help.

“What is the difference between a domain and an IP address?”

“How does email actually work?”

“What is JavaScript?” …. “Are JavaScript and Java two different things?”

“What is a back end?” (FYI, Google dictionary’s first answer is this: “the end of something which is furthest from the front or the working end”. Super helpful Google, thanks!)

The Power of Google

Despite the shortfall on the front end/back end conundrum, Google kind of became my workplace sidekick. I’ve never been afraid of asking stupid questions. If I don’t get it, I’ll ask. But I had so many questions I was in danger of seriously slowing the productivity of the whole team.

I ended up splitting queries between colleagues and the internet, relying on painstaking YouTube tutorials to learn how WordPress worked and lunchtime explanations of APIs and sprints (not, as it happens, running really fast).

Gif of man running in a room, sliding on the floor and hitting the wall

This is me, most days.

In one particularly embarrassing moment, I edited a colleague’s blog post about game development, assuming 48k meant $48,000. It did not.

Gif of Judge Judy shaking her head and putting her head in her hand

I’ve stumbled my way through conversations about Star Wars, virtual reality, the science of noise cancelling headphones and the pro-con list of languages called Ruby and Python (seriously, who names these things?). I’ve even suffered through some powerfully nerdy jokes involving comic strips and code. I’ve practised my fake laugh, like, a lot.

Gif of a man wearing sunglasses, sitting in a cane chair leaning forward and laughing.

It’s been almost five months since I started here, and my colleagues must be credited with endless patience. They have spent those months helping me get up to speed on things that come naturally to them – and thus must seem all the more frustrating.

The trade-off is that they now have an Average Joe User to test their stuff on, which is both helpful for them and humiliating for me (in a funny way). When something new is built, a developer sidles up to me, app open: “So, what do you think this little icon means?”

Gif of two men on a country road. One man is on a very small motorcycle and the other man is on the side of the road. They attempt a high five but they both miss each others hands.


Five Months In…

I’ve now mastered (kind of) the very tip of the Nerd Iceberg. I understand our projects and what they do for our clients. I now (mostly) understand what our clients are asking for, and can work the landline office transfer system (which is harder than it sounds!).

Major milestones include:

  • I’m half way through a Udemy online tutorial on HTML, and have coded my own page. It has kitten images. #fistpump
  • Out-nerding my husband in a bar when discussing our business with others in the industry. Believe it or not, this is a major personal achievement here, having lived with an insufferable nerd who can work the TV remote better than me and knows what all the cables do.
  • Launching our awesome new company blog and kick-starting our Facebook page.
  • Being able to complete the odd support ticket without having to ask for help.
  • Learning what a Hard Refresh is (did you know lots of things can be solved with this?)

Gif of Barack Obama in a tuxedo dropping a mic with his left hand and kissing the second and third fingers of his right hand

Of course, these are pretty trivial things in the grand scheme of web development. However, I’m sure I’m a lot less annoying with the volume of questions than I was back in August. (Well, I hope I am.) To be fair, I could only go up from where I began.

The team have also adjusted (hopefully) to my loud phone voice, fondness for Google Calendar and penchant for deadlines. They’ve also learned how to explain a problem and solution to someone with an extremely limited understanding, which can only be good when it comes to breaching the divide between devs and the rest of the non-nerdy world. I hope our clients are enjoying the translated explanation as well!

Gif of Bill Murray in a tuxedo holding a glass of whisky in his right hand, and raising his left hand and pointing his fingers

I guess we are all learning from each other, which is what Media Suite is all about.


Banner image: Photo by Fahad AlAni

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