Meet Jen Looper, Senior Developer Advocate at Progress

Meet Jen Looper, Senior Developer Advocate at Progress

October 01, 2018 0 Comments
Meet Jen Looper, Senior Developer Advocate at Progress-2_870x450

We’d like to introduce you to some of the people from around the world who make us what we are. In this post, meet Jen Looper, part of our DevRel team and a founder of Vue Vixens, an initiative aiming to empower women to learn to create websites and mobile apps with Vue.js.

You can meet Jen at industry events all over the world talking about Progress technology and connecting with our developer community. She is passionate about mobile development, the role of women in technology and new cultures and foreign languages. At the beginning of 2018, Jen launched the her own initiative focused on inspiring women to learn to code with Vue.js, Vue Vixens, which has now turned into a community.

Q: To start with, can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m a Developer Advocate at Progress, which means I have the privilege of speaking about our products at events all over the world to diverse developer communities at conferences and events. I also write for our blogs, keep up with the NativeScript community Slack group (over 7000 developers!), work closely with the NativeScript-Vue developers, launched the NativeScript Ambassadors program and manage the Developer Expert group (https://de.telerik.com).

I moved into this position after about 15 years as a web and mobile developer at various companies from tiny startups to medium-sized nonprofits to large international corporations. This kind of job experience gives a Developer Advocate credibility when speaking with developers in various industries. It’s my job to keep up with the fast-moving world of frontend development, in particular with the “big 3” frameworks currently dominating: React, Angular and Vue.js.

In terms of hobbies, I really love to dance and love great food and wine. I love to travel and try to maintain my language learning. I mix a mean cocktail and love decadent desserts. To keep the pounds off, I kickbox, but it’s an uphill battle.

Q: You have a BA and PhD in French literature. How did you end up in the developer world?

It does seem pretty strange, but I always say that Old French and JavaScript are sort of similar—quirky languages with sometimes funny syntax. I wanted to study French ever since visiting France when I was still in high school, and indeed did pursue a degree (three degrees, actually) in French literature at Wellesley College and the University of California at Berkeley. At the time I was in graduate school, medieval studies were undergoing a very interesting, interdisciplinary renaissance, so it was a great time to be a part of that. Unfortunately, the job market for humanities Ph.Ds after earning a degree is ridiculously tight (I think it’s even worse now), and I was channeled into adjunct professor roles that didn’t pay enough to cover child care.

It became clear that the elusive tenure-track position wasn’t going to be possible, and, as the dot-com-boom was just ending, I snagged my first job in a small startup after having completed a few courses in web design, HTML and CSS. From there, I worked my way up in the industry, eventually becoming a technical lead. While working, I also discovered how much I enjoyed making mobile apps for my iPhone using Corona SDK, a game development platform that is still pretty awesome, eventually becoming Boston Ambassador for Corona and launching the advocacy part of my career by blogging and speaking at meetups.

Q: What is the best part of being on the Mobility Developer Relations team?

It’s one of the best teams in Progress, I think! I really have great love for my colleagues. They are very supportive of what I do, and I try to support them likewise as we all pull towards the same goal, promoting NativeScript as a great framework for the JavaScript developer to build mobile apps.

Q: You are known for your side projects and your passion is inspiring. How was the idea about your latest project, Vue Vixens, born?

Vue Vixens is my most successful launch! It all started after I participated in ng-Girls in Paris, helping lead the event for the ng-Europe conference. As I was starting my path into Vue.js development, it struck me that there was no similar initiative to help onboard women into the framework in Vue.js. Since Vue is so beginner-friendly, it seemed like a great fit. I contacted our friend at Microsoft and a strong Vue advocate, Sarah Drasner, who really liked the idea of creating a program for women to learn Vue, and hinted that “there must be some alliteration here.” Immediately “Vue Vixens” came to my mind, since I don’t really like calling myself a ‘girl’:

Vue Vixens Creation

I designed our logo and launched the initiative on stage at the enormous Vue.Amsterdam conference earlier this year. The response was astounding, with many supportive tweets and DMs. I also met an amazing Ukrainian developer, Natalia Tepluhina, over Twitter after the launch, and she immediately started creating incredibly high-quality workshop content—without Natalia, the initiative might have fizzled, as crafting the content is the hardest thing to do, and to do right. We have scaled rapidly over the past half year and at the end of July had an awesome event, Vue Vixens Day in Argentina, led by our amazing LATAM Regional Director, Diana Rodriguez. All in all we have done ten events and will do ten more by the end of the year, booking now into 2019. I’m incredibly grateful for my community that has been supporting this project since day one.  

Q: In what way is Progress supporting you in your mission to create diversity and inclusivity in the Vue.js community?

Progress has been instrumental in the success of Vue Vixens by helping me financially with the purchase of our famous stickers, pins and t-shirts, and by providing legal advice so that we can form a Private Foundation. The initiative fits with my role as DevRel for NativeScript, as our Vue Vixens workshops have a NativeScript component, so I think the two projects dovetail nicely.

Q: It looks like you have a busy schedule. How do you set and maintain your priorities?

It’s been getting busier, with the number of events we do and the community management I do, but I find it essential to set a to-do list and try to check of pieces of it each day. I’ve also used Pomodoro techniques in the past and recommend shutting off social media feeds if it becomes hard to focus. Nothing like a busy Slack room to kill your productivity.

Q: Can you give some advice to all women who want to start a side project but cannot find the time for it?

I think you need to be able to find help. Whether it’s having the kids do the dishes and vacuum or finding likeminded people on a Slack room, it’s very difficult to fly solo. All my other side projects that I’ve launched (at once point I had 20 mobile apps in the app stores, each with different audiences and communities using them) have had limited success because I did them solo, I think. If you want to scale, you need helpers such as our Vue Vixens staff, Natalia, Diana and Sara, to take the initiative and run with it. Then you can concentrate on what you do best, whether it’s development, sales, marketing, or community-building.

aneliya_stoyanova

Aneliya Stoyanova

Aneliya Stoyanova is part of the Global Communications team at Progress. She has more than 8 years of experience in the technology media and communications field. A news junkie and technology lover, she enjoys writing and finding the best way to communicate across all exciting news around Progress.

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