Looking Back on 2015…

If you had told me that 2015 would have been this crazy of an adventure, I wouldn’t have believed it.  However, I’ve grown a lot this year, and I’m thrilled to see where things are going.  I’ve got a few adventures ahead that I’m excited about, and 2015 is to blame for setting me up with those expectations.  Let’s see what went on.

CodeMash 2015… and a Peek Into the InfoSec World

In January, I knew I wanted 2015 to include a selfish adventure – looking into crypto and other security topics. When I was in college, I had fun reading up on topics in that realm and finding exploits in the labs and reporting them. Somehow, that part of me woke up in January and wanted to see what’s out there. I caught a couple sessions at CodeMash 2015 to appease that curiosity.

White Spy from Spy vs. Spy (from Mad Magazine)
White Spy from Spy vs. Spy (from Mad Magazine)

I thought that part of me would stay quiet. But no… those sessions kicked me in the butt. So I reached out to my friend Bill Sempf to see if B-Sides Cleveland would be a good spot for me to see what’s going on. He mentioned that it would be a great community event for me to check out, and I think that is the understatement of the year! It was amazing to see so many people of all walks of life, and with a venue like The Grog Shop, it was unlike any other conference I’ve been to, spoken at, or organized. It was also the first conference in a very long time where I was not only an attendee but also had my husband with me, as he’s interested in the security stuff from an IT perspective. Some of their stories totally blew my mind away (triggering a slight case of impostor syndrome) and then others I could relate to well. I look forward to the next B-Sides Cleveland and hope to one day get the courage and ideas to speak at it.

Realizing My Impact on My Apprentices

The groups of apprentices that I’ve dealt with this year have been astounding. The more I deal with apprentices, the more I identify certain personality characteristics and learning styles, and the better I get at doing my job. Across the board, I’ve seen trends, which also reaffirms that I love the education space and evaluating how people learn.

Earlier this year, I had an apprentice in particular that had a profound impact on me and I on him. However, I didn’t realize the impact I made on him until about week 10 of our 12-week program, when a passing comment gave me an inkling of the impact. He was a challenge for me not because he was a difficult personality – far from that. He reminded me of someone from my past, a much younger (in terms of timeline, not necessarily in age) version of me. I couldn’t put my finger on why – other than similar development starts. It didn’t help that he had a way with words that really hit me at my core. On our last day together, we talked a lot. That’s when he explained everything, and I realized that we have a lot more in common. He also mentioned that I filled big shoes, which I hadn’t realized that were there to be filled. From that point on, I reminded myself that I need to continue to be that person, not just to him but to my other apprentices as well. We are still in touch, and he still has a way with words and timing that tugs at my heartstrings and reminds me why I am in the position that I am in.

Later in the year, I had another apprentice who I swore reminded me of the one I mentioned from earlier in the year. They were two different personalities, but they both have similarities that I couldn’t verbalize. I couldn’t explain why, but throughout that whole cohort, I knew deep down that there was something about this other apprentice – who also had a profound impact on me, more than he probably realizes. We talked throughout the cohort, and around week 10, I knew I had to figure out why I had the read I did. On the last day of class, we were talking about things in general, and he made a comment that made me go “Ahh… it all makes sense.” He had a background similar to my apprentice from earlier in the year. My read turned out to be spot on. I’m looking forward to hearing about his adventures as he takes the next steps in his career.


Double Loop rollercoaster
Double Loop rollercoaster from Geauga Lake (my first real rollercoaster)

My apprentices – all cohorts so far – have been a rollercoaster of emotions – highs at successes, lows when they experience setbacks. I’m by their sides for the whole ride, trying to level out the extremes and keep them as even keel as possible. This year has been a year of extremes with them, so much so that I was happy to see the positives and hated to share my negative stories (but had to because, well, my life experiences are learning experiences for them to learn vicariously from). As I look back on 2015 with the Software Guild, it’s been quite an adventure. I am not only helping others learn, but I’m also learning more about myself in the process. I look forward to the journey ahead with them in 2016.

Getting More Comfortable with Myself – Podcasts and Netshows

If there’s anything you need to know about pre-2015 me, it’s that I did not like watching or listening to any recordings of me. I’m my biggest critic, and I couldn’t watch or listen to any recordings of me without turning supercritical. It’s my nature, and it was something that I just couldn’t settle in. However, 2015 forced me to get comfortable with myself and to shut off the inner critic, if only to take everything in.

You can find a list of my appearances in my Microsoft MVP Profile. There were a couple podcasts and many appearances on Coding 101. I listened to each recording once they were posted, and the more I listened to myself, the stronger my self-confidence grew and the more comfortable I became with appearing on podcasts and netshows!

I am sad to announce that Coding 101 was recently cancelled by TWiT.tv. Thankfully, they are keeping the past episodes in the archives for others to watch. I’m thankful that Leo LaPorte and Lisa LaPorte gave Coding 101 a chance, as it exposes a variety of technologies to those who are just getting into coding. Yes, I had my fangirl moment before my first appearance, which led to more nervousness. However, all nervous energy dissipated after my first appearance, as Padre and Lou are great conversationalists and always made me feel at ease. It was great to do a recording in person with Lou. I still want to visit the TWiT studios if I’m ever out that way.


Overall, 2015 has been a great year for me career-wise. I had a lot of introspective moments, which really brought me out of my shell more than I ever expected. The boost in self-confidence helped me improve my vision of my impact on others. Knowing that, I now have a better understanding of how I can continue to serve the community and encourage my apprentices to grow in their careers. I also have a better idea of where I want to go in my career. So look out, 2016! I’ve got dreams that I’m determined to make into realities!


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