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Carlene Cannon-Conner
Carlene Cannon-Conner

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But I wasn't meant to be a coder ...

I did fairly well at school, right up to my GCSE's * . My A-levels ** however, were another story. I have always had to work hard to get good grades, very little comes naturally to me. While taking my A-Levels, I dropped the ball. So I had no one to blame but myself when I wasn't able to get into university to study psychology 🧠.

But I had to get into university! Everyone in my life; my parents, my teachers, my friends told me university was the only way I was going to get anywhere in life. Now, in retrospect, I am very aware that university is not the be-all and end-all. But at the time, I was certain it was. I was a failure 😞.

Pity party ...

I was no longer part of my school. My dad was working overseas and my mum hadn't attended university herself. I didn't know who to turn to. After quite a bit of self-pity. I picked myself up and thought, what am I good at and what did I enjoy as a child? Computers, I'd always had a fascination with tech. Nobody taught me how to use a video player, I just worked it out, and I was the one to ask my dad to get our first computer. Ok, general subject area sorted! Next, I thought about where I'd like to study. Brighton was my favourite UK getaway destination growing up and it was gay 🏳️‍🌈 friendly, bonus!

Now what?...

I worked out which course seemed the most appealing to me and called up clearing***. I found out that if I was successful in a foundation degree at Hastings (a sister college of the University of Brighton). I'd be eligible to take a Bachelor's degree 📚 in Brighton.

Is it just me? ...

It became very clear, very quickly, I was the only one on the course that had no prior coding experience. Granted I had taken I.T. at school and got an A grade. But actual code? Nothing, zilch, nada! All the men and they were men, I was the only woman on the course, it seems had taken some form of coding course before starting this degree. So it was a struggle but, I was determined to keep up. I wouldn't drop the ball this time. It was difficult, I had to keep asking for help and going over and over things, breaking and fixing them until something clicked. Sticking with it is the best advice I can give, because I did finally get my Foundation Degree and moved on to my Bachelor's, where I was finally joined by a few other women, yay! I've since worked on various parts of the web stack, primarily with JavaScript. Turn's out I'm a pretty good coder 😉!

Be your own cheerleader...

Impostor syndrome is a term that many of us will be familiar with. Even now, nearly a decade into this gig. When I find myself struggling I have to remind myself that, all our journeys are different, we don't all start at the same point. I should only compare myself, to myself, and not to others. Also to remind myself of everything I have achieved 🎉.

But enough about me. How did you get into coding? 💬

* Exams that are taken in the UK usually at age 16.
** Exams that are taken in the UK usually at ages 17 & 18.
*** In the UK when you don't get into the university of choice, this is a service you can call that can aid you with getting into backup choices, etc.

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