Lesson Learned | Fish Tacos | The Swift Kick I Needed to Improve My Project(s)


The other day, I was sitting outside on my patio enjoying a cup of coffee when my neighbor across the hall came out to his patio to stain a piece of furniture for his son’s room. We had our small talk and he then proceeded to ask me what kinds of things that I build seeing as how I am changing careers into web development. I went on to show him the Recipe Saver app that I made using Ruby on Rails (link: https://recipe-saver.herokuapp.com/recipes) and I was in for a big surprise.

“Fish Tacos”

The beautiful picture of my fish taco recipe had been replaced by a severed head and upon closer examination of the recipe, it looked like the ingredient “Chupacabra” in the unit of measure of “tesla” had been added as well.

At first, I didn’t know whether to laugh or be a little upset. On one hand, yes, this was hilarious but on the other hand this has proven to be detrimental to my job search due to the recent onslaught of rejections with no interview. This is especially devastating as I live in the Tampa Bay area, one of the most competitive job markets for web and software developers in the country, where the typical applicants per opening for development jobs are in the high 400’s/low 500’s on average. The job below is typical for my area, and has accumulated 497 applicants in 4 days.

I was the 496th applicant for this position on CareerBuilder.

Oh, it gets better, this position was also advertised on a few other job boards. If the other job boards get as many if not more applicants, worst case scenario, the competition for this position could reach the thousands. Even if the other sites do not get as many applicants if any at all, a minimum 497 applicants is still nothing to scoff at. So yes, I think what happened to my app was kind of a big deal and a severed head was not quite the right way to make the right impression for the companies in my area.

I will admit that this was my fault as it is true that my app did not have a login thus leaving the app open for anyone to mess with. It’s not that I didn’t know how to add a login, it’s more that I chose not to add the Devise gem to my app because I wanted hiring managers and recruiters to have easy access to experiment with the app without having to go through the hassle of having to create an account. I was also perfectly okay with people changing the pictures, ingredients, and even getting silly and having fun but I never counted on someone not changing the picture back or not deleting the nonsense ingredients. I now know this rationale was incorrect.

I have since added the Devise gem to this app so now if someone wants to change the picture to something silly or goofy, they can go nuts. It now won’t show on anyone else’s page. I have also learned a valuable lesson and I hope to pass it onto any other aspiring web developers—add a login because you never know what kind of person is going to look at your Ruby on Rails app. This is especially true if you’re applying for hundreds of jobs a month and have your resume up on not only your school’s or coding boot camp’s job site but also other jobs sites such as Indeed or Careerbuilder.

To the person who did this, I hope you had fun and now you can add goofy scary faces on your own login. I’m actually not mad at you and if anything, this is exactly what I needed to get me to clean up, improve, and keep tabs on my projects. So actually, thank you.

Author: aesanderson

I am 29 years old (with experience) who lives in Clearwater, FL with my husband, two kids, and my cat Spike. I am a professional and Air Force veteran who is transitioning from financial services to web/software development. In my spare time, I like to sew, bake, draw, and code--I just like to create things! I also like bad movies (think "Samurai Cop"), art museums, swimming, and going to the beach. I am originally from Washington State (born and raised) and grew up in a small Scandinavian town called Stanwood, which is 45 minutes north of Seattle.

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