Leap of Code

I have a moving image in my mind. The bottom half of it is taken up by sand, the color reminiscent of Cappuccino, a camel which I once befriended on another land of fine particles. The sky fills the top bit, and in between the two elements, there’s a shade of mantle green, HSL(124, 7%, 57%). In the foreground, is me.

I’m standing on a beach, stepping on the caramel dust, wearing pants with a print of a coral reef. And I’d want to say it’s Nemo’s home that’s depicted, but then again, I don’t know all that much about fish, or where they like to live.

In the background, people are kiteboarding, zigging and zagging on the green. Mr. G is here too, but out of frame, filming me, while I attempt to do a cartwheel.

It’s 2013, and I’m in Cumbuco, Brazil. I didn’t know it then, but I was living what would become the most important chapter of my life story yet, The Spin-Off Project.

My first job as a junior developer began with a dazzling intro. I was offered a remote position that paid well, promised code reviews and one-on-ones with a senior dev, and ultimately flown to France for two weeks of training. The only requirement? That I’d be willing to learn.

It was, of course, too good to be true. The rules of the game started changing from day one, and just a few weeks in I found myself in a job for which I hadn’t applied. At the same time, I struggled to understand whether to stay or not.

During this period, I began using The Daily Stoic Journal, whose daily reflections prompted me to meditate on questions like What do I find important in life? As I thought about the answers, the memory, of me, cartwheeling on that beach, kept replaying in my mind.

While I watched myself from a distance, living The Spin-Off Project, my present appeared so mundane compared to the recent past. And I realized I had diverged into a path that wasn’t mine.

As I further contemplated my next step as a developer, I concluded that I didn’t care so much about what that next step would be, as long as it would make for a good story, as The Spin-Off Project had done.

Creating my own master’s in web development

2013 was also the year that I met Victor Saad and learned about his 12-in-12 project.

Instead of going to grad school, Victor decided to take a leap and create his own MBA. He picked twelve experiences centered around design and business and dedicated a month to doing each. Victor then went on to invite people around the world to leap with him and called it The Leap Year Project.

A few weeks ago, I got back in touch with Victor and told him I was ready to redeem my rain check. Building upon Victor’s idea, I’m reserving the coming year to learn and grow as a developer by designing my own master’s in web development.

The Curriculum

Instead of assigning a time limit to each experience, I decided to approach my leap more like a bucket list and add a few items that I want to check off in the next year or so.

1. Be a teaching assistant for Le Wagon
Le Wagon is the coding boot camp that I graduated from in April 2018. This time around, I went back as a teaching assistant. I taught the front-end module in Bali, JavaScript, Rails, project weeks in Barcelona, and object-oriented programming in Singapore.

2. Collaborate with a designer
I worked with Laura on a mock page for The Gatherists (code). And we also collaborated on Wagon City Guides (code // design).

Cheeky fact: Laura and I met while surfing in Sri Lanka. We daydream about opening a web agency with a café on the ground floor. I call her Cookie.

3. Create a web app with a senior developer
I created Wagon City Guides (code // design), a city guide app for Le Wagon’s campuses, with the mentorship of Federico.

4. Work on a project with a small team
For ten weeks, I worked with seven other women via <how-i-can> on a positive news app called Perch.

5. Teach the frontend basics to beginner devs
I was the frontend mentor for Subvisual’s summer camp program

6. Write my first tech article

7. Prepare and give a workshop

8. Do an apprenticeship with a company that uses Rails
I joined TourHero and then stayed as their front-end developer.

Related reading: On becoming a front-end developer at TourHero: An interview with Mirha Masala

9. Volunteer
I gave a coding workshop for Girls in Tech Singapore.


Looking from a distance, living somebody else’s idea of comfortable, I wondered if I’d ever leap again. It turns out, the answer is yes.