Meet Paloma Hennessy, one of my best friends from childhood. We met in middle school during orchestra, and the rest is history. We are different in many ways – me being louder and more aggressive; and her being more thoughtful and reserved – but we complement each other well. Her path in life has been vastly different than mine, and I used the blog as an excuse to dig into her thoughts and life – although I really didn’t need to use the blog as an excuse now, right?
- Grew up in: Pasadena, California (Southern California)
- Undergrad: Psychology and Studio Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon
- Activities Involved In During Undergrad: Board member for Wulapalooza (the on campus music festival), student athletic trainer, member and board member of Delta Gamma, Ultimate Frisbee
- Now Lives In: Seattle, Washington
- Current Job: Front end developer
How did you end up being a developer?
I didn’t want to go down the psychology route post grad because it would require me to go back to school and I knew that my heart wasn’t in it. I looked for something else that could combine my understanding of people and my passion for creating. Based on a friend’s recommendation, I dabbled in development and then realized it was a good fit.
What was the friend’s recommendation?
She had another friend who was like me, and he was looking for something new and exciting and ended up coding. I did a quick Google search and took some free tutorials on Treehouse, Code School, etc., and had so much fun that I wanted to make something out of it. After some more research, I ended up enrolling in General Assembly.
Besides being a developer, what else is happening in your life?
Outside of work I spend a lot of time in the gym – more so now because of the weather, but I’d rather be outdoors hiking or running. I’m also pretty involved in my sorority’s alumnae chapter and just bought a condo!
On the topic of buying a condo, how did that come about?
My current lease is ending and I knew they were going to raise the rent because I live so close to Amazon and they’re always expanding. Unfortunately, the average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in Seattle is ~$2,200/month without utilities. I took a look at my finances and the current housing market, and found out that it’s a good time to buy. Then I made the decision of staying in Seattle for the long-term because I like it here and am making good relationships. Honestly, I was really lucky and found a condo on the market that I loved and my offer was accepted on my first shot.
How does it feel like being young and having a mortgage?
I feel a little more adult? Like a big kid now. The couple years right after graduation is such a weird age for many because they’re still kind of under their parent’s wings. Having a mortgage made me feel like a real adult and more independent from my parent.
How would you describe yourself? If you met a new person, what would you say?
You know what’s interesting? How quickly you think of self-deprecating words when you’re asked that question. I immediately went towards shy, awkward, kind of weird, and I’m much more than that. I just think that’s how people perceive me right off the bat.
So without considering other people’s perceptions, how would you describe yourself? Or if you have to think about it in a different way, what are the best parts of you that you don’t talk enough about?
I would say I’m strong. I physically push myself in ways that most don’t; mentally, I can tough out any situation; emotionally, it’s hard to get to me for the most part. If people do me wrong, I’ll get upset and have my moment of anger but I’m still be able to shake it off pretty easily. I also think I’m well-rounded, creative, intelligent and a problem solver. Which works well being a developer because I can think of different ways around a problem.
Three sentences to sum up your 24 years of existence?
I work hard to get where I am. I love to laugh. I like animals more than people.
What are your plans for the future?
Work-wise, I like being in the startup world and I’d like to stay there at least for now. I loving being able to do so many different things and continuously learn new things both in and outside of web development. Eventually I want to be in more senior roles, but I don’t know what type of role yet. If I can create a role that’s similar to what I’m doing right now, designing and developing, but in a more senior position where I might be able to lead my own team, I would want to do that.
In my non-work life future there are tons of things I want to do. I want to continue making friendships in my new home town, travel and continue staying active. I’m dying to really start doing some long weekend hikes and camping. It would be a shame not to take advantage of the beautiful nature that surrounds us here in the PNW. I can also give you the girly vulnerable answer, I want to be in a steady relationship and find the proverbial “other half”. But I know I don’t want to rely on someone else for my happiness.
I DO think it’d be really cool if my two best friends came and lived here (hint hint).
What kind of advice would you tell people who change industries, roles, or majors?
You have to take a look at what your motivation is to change. Whether it’s because you’re not feeling challenged in what you’re doing, or you think you’d be happier doing something else. Do your research and try to keep as many options open as possible. I’m one of those people who want to dip my toes in the water before jumping into the pool.
You also have to have confidence in yourself. You’re going to feel insecure in a new area, and doubt your decision but if you remember why you made the choice and continue moving towards your new goal, you can make something out of it.
You went to school near Portland and then moved to Seattle. How did you go about building friendships in Seattle?
It was a little different because I went directly into an intense coding school and didn’t really have time to make friends outside of my cohort right away. But when I settled down, I reached out to my sorority alumnae group and met people through them. I also joined a running club and a hiking association and hang out with them on the weekends. If you’re about to move to a brand new city and don’t know anyone, find people with similar interests.
What does happiness mean to you?
Peace. Being content where you are and who you are. Not coveting anything else. I wouldn’t say I’m quite there but I’m content with the path I’m on and looking forward to the future.
What things have been on your mind lately?
Mostly “adult-y” house things like finding an electrician, a plumber etc… my moving to-do list is extensive right now!
I’m also always thinking about how things are going at work. It’s hard for me not to overanalyze everything. Both in and outside of work. I need to develop more confidence in what I do. Part of that also just comes with more experience.
I hope when you’re at work you put on a more confident image.
Yes, I definitely try to. It’s hard to be totally confident in yourself when a lot of what you do is totally new.
Any other things you want to say?
Let me know if you have any questions you want me to ask in future interviews!