A Day in the Life: Alisha Grama, Codecademy Curriculum Developer

This month, we’re featuring Alisha Grama, an associate curriculum developer at Codecademy.

Meet Alisha! :mountain_snow:

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hey, I’m Alisha, and I’m an associate curriculum developer at Codecademy!

For a little bit about me, I moved around quite a bit as a kid, but I was born in Austin, Texas, and mostly grew up in Massachusetts. My family loves to travel, and I’ve been to over 40 countries. I love driving around, baking, reading, and listening to music. I’ve always been into building things, starting with LEGOs when I was a kid. I worked a lot with robotics and eventually found that my favorite part was the coding.

I majored in CS and minored in Ethics at the University of Rochester, a school which I primarily picked due to the cold weather (I’m a HUGE fan of snow and winter). I also appreciated their approach to learning where there were no classic gen-ed requirements, allowing students to study what they actually wanted to study.

How did you end up working for Codecademy?

I was teaching in NYC, and looking to transition into EdTech, but only if I found a company and position that I was passionate about. I googled “EdTech NYC,” and Codecademy was the first result. It was the perfect intersection of coding and education for me. I applied immediately, and two months later I was here!

Did you always want to be an Associate Curriculum Developer?

I always knew that I wanted to be in education, and I knew that I loved computer science. I’d used Codecademy when I was in college, but I’d never thought I’d end up working there. It’s the kind of job that’s such a perfect fit that I never imagined it could actually exist.

What are the best aspects about working as an Associate Curriculum Developer?

While I can have days in a row that are similar, no two weeks are the exact same. There are so many steps to developing courses: researching, planning, creating initial drafts, editing, rewriting, testing, and maintaining the course once it goes live. Not to mention reviewing my teammates’ content as well. I love that there are so many tasks that I get to jump between.

What are the worst aspects about working as an Associate Curriculum Developer?

The other side of having so many tasks to jump between is that sometimes you get into a great flow and then you’re done with that task for a few weeks. Every time I’m testing a lesson it takes me the third or fourth exercise to really hit my stride, and then before I know it, I’m done and I won’t be testing my next lesson for over two weeks.

If you could make one piece of fictional tech reality, what would it be?

I absolutely hate traffic, so I would be a big fan of flying cars, or a “ghost” car that can zoom through the others (I’m aware that that’s more fantasy and less sci-fi).

Do you have any advice for the learners?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you start, but I think a great first step is to decide what language you want to learn. Think about what you hope to eventually accomplish with your new skills, and do some research on which language would be best. Join some forums so you can talk to people who are going through the same things you are. And stick with it! Even if you can’t code every day, try to hold yourself to 3-4 days a week.

If you could make one brand new course what would it be?

Oh, there are so many, but I think it would be fun to create a course on robotics. Maybe something to do with Thymio bots, since they’re a great “intro” robot.

What does a typical day look like for you?

There’s no one typical day, but there are some typical tasks.

I wake up around 9 and start working at 9:30. I like to use the morning as a work block and catch up on writing, testing, or reviewing. I have lunch around noon and I like to walk somewhere and pick up food (now that we’re working from home). I live in midtown Manhattan so there are so many great options around me. In the afternoon, I usually have some meetings, and then I check over bug reports from my previous courses. I spend the rest of the day (from about 2-6) working on the same tasks from the morning and reaching out to teammates about concerns/questions.

Of course, this whole routine could get completely thrown off if one task ends up taking way more time than usual. Sometimes there’s a pretty meaty review that takes up most of the day or a weird bug that I need to pair with someone to solve. I love the flexibility and variety that I get everyday!