#CodingIcon: Zahra Jabini -Engineer, Architect, Designer!

#CodingIcon is a mini-series from Jewelbots highlighting the amazing women building the things we use everyday.

Early on, everyone is expected to know what they want to pursue in life. Whether you’re a four- year-old with dreams or a student fresh out of college, it’s a question we are all faced with. And though one’s sense of purpose may evolve over time, our latest #codingicon Zahra Jabini is no different but her story is inspirational!

Zahra got her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Master’s in Civil Engineering. Although she was passionate about architecture (and still is!), she realized it may not have exactly been the right path for her. In today’s age of technology and information, Zahra found herself in the world of programming as she discovered herself somewhere between being an architect, engineer, and designer.

Now, Zahra works as Director of Product Engineering at Bustle Digital Group, part time architect, and full time coffee-enthusiast. Bustle is a news and lifestyle digital media publication site that creates fun, inquisitive, and inclusive content. It focuses on millennial women; being built by women like Zahra.

Name: Zahra Jabini
Fun Fact: She is addicted to flashpacking!
Twitter: ZeeJab

Who are/were your role models?

My biggest and most influential role model was and will always be my mom. She was/is a boss babe and my dad worships her. Watching her be in charge of her world and her confidence in everything she did really molded me into the person I am. To this day, the road the two of them paved for me, and the life they lived remains the most influential part of my life. Both my parents were professors and they would take me and my brother to work with them and watching them do their thing emboldened and motivated me. They never stopped pushing me to live the best version of myself. Even when I came out of college with a Master's and completely lost as to what it was I wanted to do with the rest of my life, they helped me keep exploring. By being the best versions of themselves, they allowed me to figure it all out, especially during the hard times.

How old were you when you learned to code?

I was 27 years young! I got my Bachelor's in Architecture and Master's in Civil Engineering, but then realized as much as I wanted to be a practicing Architect and live the lives of the Architects I had grown up admiring, I wasn't passionate about the process of getting there, so I searched for something else to drive me, and programming became that thing. I've always needed an outlet to put my creativity and energy out in the world and building and creating for the web became that thing.

How did you learn?

I did the good old fashioned thing, where I spent weeks on google trying to figure out what it was I even needed to learn or what any of it was called. During my search I came upon a Skillshare course to learn the basics of Ruby which then led me to a more rigorous Ruby on Rails course and then an immersive Web Development course. I spent an entire summer, painting and just googling. I had a fuzzy idea of what I wanted the end result of all of this to be so I took one step that led me to the next and then the next. I didn't have a roadmap, I didn't know what I was doing. During my search I had found people that were doing the things I thought I wanted to end up doing, so I just did what made sense to get there, one step after the next. I kept going until 5 years later, in retrospect, I'm exactly where I wanted to be.  

What makes coding so important to you? (Or what’s your favorite part about coding?)

You can do so much with it. There's so many ways to express yourself and create and inspire. You can build entire worlds with it! Whether that's a fictional world or a real life one that affects other people, the possibilities are endless!!

What’re your next big goals or projects for 2018?

Keep getting better. There’s some exciting things happening at work, so 2018 will mostly be consumed by that. I also have a couple of side projects in the works with my husband that I’m really excited about.

Any last pieces of advice?

Present your thoughts to the world! Communication is one of the most important tools, especially in the creative industry. It's how we connect and exchange ideas. Presenting your thoughts and ideas allows people to understand your work and appreciate your creative instincts. You'll also learn more about yourself which is a huge bonus. It all comes down to explaining your thoughts. The medium doesn't matter, any medium will do. Just put yourself out there.