I’ve been in the web development business for just about 7 years now, but this has been the first year when I have finally felt like this is where I belong. In the past, there had always been thoughts in the back of my mind that maybe this wasn’t for me, that I’d be better off doing something else. But this year, I feel like I finally found my niche.

Perhaps it was because I was able to really dive in to specific technologies that I ended up really meshing well with. Perhaps it was because I finally accepted reality and allowed myself to be comfortable with falling behind on the news and happenings of the tech world. The ever changing state of tech was something that typically stressed me out in the past. Perhaps it was because I finally gained confidence in my experience and skills built up over the previous six years and decided to start sharing that knowledge base with others.

It was likely all of those things. And now here I am, in a position to leap into the new year having made these personal advances. So with that, here are a few of my professional accomplishments in 2013…

I learned Sass well enough to be able to teach a 4-hour workshop at Girl Develop It Detroit. It was kind of #bada55. I fell so deeply in love with Sass and the organized and programmatic nature of it, that I was the 5th person to buy tickets to the inaugural SassConf in New York City – which was super awesome and was a big factor in helping me make the shift to object oriented and modular CSS architectures. Speaking of which…

I learned the ways of OOCSS and modular CSS architecture. This has only happened in the last few months, but I’m pretty sure it a big part of what’s brought me to a happy place in the frontend arena. I’ve always been a very organized and methodological person, but CSS has always been a bit disorganized and challenging to work with. OOCSS and modular architectures bring that missing structure to CSS. And when you combine OOCSS/modular architecture with the programmatic abilities of a preprocessor like Sass, Less, or Stylus – OMG IT’S LIKE MAGIC RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS ALL OVER THE PLACE.

I started working with Articulate. Which has been SO fantastically awesome so far. I get to work with ~115 of the coolest people I’ve ever met. There’s no bureaucracy, there’s total transparency, there’s flexibility, and autonomy. I get to work remotely, from home – with my cat, or from a coffee shop, or from Detroit Labs, or from Corner Brewery, or from basically anywhere with a Wifi connection. This is life changing. I have time again. To do things like yoga, and slide preparation…

SlickQuiz for WordPress surpassed 15,000 downloads! SlickQuiz grew by leaps and bounds this year. I made a lot of really great improvements to both the jQuery and WordPress versions. This success is part of what helped me win the Github OSCON Scholarship that was open to women and minorities! On that note, OSCON was awesome and probably my favorite conference ever.

I gained the confidence to start spreading my knowledge. Between winning the Github OSCON scholarship, digging into Sass and CSS architecture, the challenges of a project gone awry, and searching for a new job (which required me to really figure out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be professionally), I gained confidence in my experience and skills, which ultimately lead to me feeling capable of sharing that knowledge. Aside from teaching the aforementioned SassShop, I was accepted to speak at the upcoming CodeMash conference on my experiences with open source software support, and (SPOILER ALERT) I plan on submitting this talk to the 2014 OSCON CFP.

So overall, it was a very successful year for me professionally, I’d say my most successful yet. I came up with the following “bio” a few months ago and I think it reflects my current position rather well.

My name is Julie Cameron and my passion is in crafting beautiful, responsive websites. Sass is my chisel and HTML5 is my stone. My client, team, and user base are my muses. And an amazing UX is my goal.

So! What will 2014 bring?! I have a few goals…

  1. REALLY learn CSS. There are plenty of little complexities and advanced techniques that I want to know.
  2. Continue digging into the depths of JavaScript. When I started working with JS six years ago, it was little bit of code here and there to do small animations and such. I never really took the time to learn it through and through. 2013 got me quite a ways further with tools like CodeSchool and CodeWars, but there’s a ways to go.
  3. Keep speaking at conferences and meetups. CodeMash is lined up. Maybe OSCON? Probably a few more Girl Develop It workshops, who knows what else?!
  4. Keep improving SlickQuiz. I want 30,000 downloads by 2015!
  5. Perhaps launch an Ann Arbor or Detroit-based meetup group. Possibly a women coders group in AA or a Sass / Frontender’s group in AA or Detroit. Hmmmm….

Happy New Year, all! Thank you for all of the encouragement and for sharing your confidence in me over the last year! May next year be even more successful!