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My journey from psychologist to software developer

johnfolder profile image john-easyagile Originally published at easyagile.com ・3 min read

Originally published on the Easy Agile blog on 23 March 2021

We’re checking the surf and haven’t talked in a while. Two sets of eyes locked on the ocean, is it worth paddling out this windy winter morning?

“Where are you working now?” you ask distractedly. “I’m actually a software developer.”

Your eyes break from the swell, instinctively looking for signs of trauma or burnout. “Wow, you couldn’t have picked something more different!” you say, a little taken aback.

I have had some version of this conversation over and over since I made the switch from psychology to coding. People are often confused by how certain I am that I made the right choice, despite the fact that in my mid-thirties and around the birth of my first baby I discarded a lucrative career I spent a lot of time and effort pursuing, and to which I seemed to be well suited.

The truth is that making that change when I did vastly improved my health and my family's happiness. It was a privilege to work with my clients and share their innermost secrets, hopes and dreams. It was also extremely traumatic and disheartening, and was wearing me down. Then one day my wife said, “you don’t have to be a psychologist you know?” It may seem obvious, but that short sentence opened my mind.

I started to think about what else I might like to do. I’d always envied friends of mine who were carpenters or bricklayers and seemed to get so much satisfaction in gradually mastering their craft. Problem is, I am terrible with tools and can’t hammer a nail to save my life. A chat with a friend who is a coder where he spoke about his craft in the same way got me thinking.

I took a free online course to test the waters and was instantly hooked. I had to fight myself to go to bed at a decent time every night as I learned more and more about topics like CSS, browsers, clean code and asynchronous javascript. A couple of weeks later I started my masters in Information Technology and threw myself into it.

Ok, I thought, there is no way better to learn than on the job so I reached out to every company I could find within driving distance, offering to do anything even tangentially related to coding to get my foot in the door.

Thankfully, the Wollongong tech community (Hey there Siligong!) is open minded and two awesome companies, first FinoComp and now Easy Agile were able to look past my non-traditional background to see my potential.

I’m now a bonafide front end developer and am absolutely stoked to work everyday, expanding my toolset and honing my craft to build awesome products for our customers which improve their lives.

To anyone out there who is considering a career change, it’s never too late. It changed my life for the better and it could change yours too.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” Lao Tzu.

(Oh, you should definitely paddle out in that surf too. No matter the conditions a surf is always a good idea.)

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