Building Supportive Systems with Software Crafter Serene Henery

Building Supportive Systems with Software Crafter Serene Henery

8th Light

April 21, 2023

Serene Henery has been drawn to computers since early childhood.

“Every time I try to do something on a computer, it just comes naturally to me,” they explain, while rattling off the programming classes and technical support roles that combined their natural strengths and interests. “I just have that logical thinking.”

But their path from a toddler with a computer to their role today as a software consultant has meandered through several detours that inform their approach to developing software and delivering as a team.

Name: Serene Henery
Pronouns: They/Them, She/Her
Location: Columbus
Time at 8th Light: 1 year and 10 months
Time in the industry: 2 years and 4 months

Building Support Networks

After high school, Serene followed their father’s footsteps into the Navy, where they worked their way up to IT3. After leaving the Navy and working in IT support roles over the phone, Serene was drawn to other ways they could support others around them.

Serene worked for a nonprofit mental health organization for six years, facilitating peer support groups and working with the LGBT and veterans communities. They began learning new programming skills as a hobby before realizing an opportunity. “I was pursuing learning JavaScript on my own for fun when I learned that I qualified for a full ride scholarship at Code Platoon,” Serene recalls about the coding school for military veterans and their families. “I jumped at the opportunity, intending only on learning for the pleasure of it when I realized partway through the bootcamp that I could do this for a living.”

Following Code Platoon, Serene joined 8th Light’s apprenticeship cohort in 2022, and has built on their technical foundation with principles and practices that gave them more confidence in their code. “The emphasis on test-driven development has been hugely resonating, and a major thing that has very much changed my approach to coding,” Serene explains. “Setting up automated unit testing has saved my butt several times.”

Throughout the apprenticeship, Serene has found an overlap of passions while specializing in accessibility and front-end development. Accessibility combines both design and development efforts to ensure that software is usable and enjoyable by all users; and its implementation, not to mention its implications, can be deeply technical. Challenges like these are what motivate Serene to keep learning.

“The apprenticeship is very, very challenging, and I really have been enjoying the challenge,” Serene says. “It’s been hard, and it’s been very rewarding because of that. Because when I’m beating my head against the wall trying to figure out this really low-level stuff, when I finally get it to work and it clicks — that dopamine rush is the best thing ever.”

Finding New Ways To Support Others

Much like a suite of automated unit tests, teammates, colleagues, and peer supporters can all provide a sense of security for the aspects of delivering software that aren’t captured in a Terminal. Serene says the best advice they’ve received is, “Don’t be stuck for too long before reaching out.” Following this advice, they’ve completed the apprenticeship and become a software consultant who helps teams work through their challenges big and small.

“My knowledge coming into 8th Light with my previous job is all about mental health and wellbeing,” Serene says, emphasizing how these skills are still valuable in technical organizations. “By promoting mental health, by promoting wellness, by helping people avoid burnout, by helping people reduce anxiety, by helping people feel heard and understood when they’re dealing with a mental illness like depression; they can then increase their resiliency and improve their ability to do their best at work.”

Achieving The Next Goals

Given their trajectory, it should be no surprise that Serene’s immediate plans after the apprenticeship are to continue learning. “From here I want to continue honing my skills as a crafter, and want to develop my own apps for people struggling with a variety of mental illnesses,” they said.

Outside of work Serene is a tabletop and video gamer. “I got into programming because I wanted to develop games,” Serene says. “And I have to admit, since I started learning programming two years ago, I haven’t made a game.”

To be fair, they’ve been busy. In addition to switching careers and completing 8th Light’s apprenticeship, they recently bought a home with their husband, and they’re expecting to adopt a baby in June.

8th Light

As curious software professionals, the 8th Light team of software developers, designers, crafters, and technologists partner with a variety of clients to unlock opportunities through software solutions.