I didn't mean to end up here. I went to school for marketing, not computer science. Working on the 'tech' side of a tech startup definitely wasn't part of the plan, but here I am anyway.
I'm a data analyst for a mobile payment startup in Boston, but even that position didn't start out that way. I started at this company on their customer support team 3 years ago, troubleshooting issues over phone and email. But that changed when my company had a need for more detailed reporting and insights, and no one designated to do it. My boss tapped me to lead the reporting deep dive for the Support team to measure our growth and track key KPIs. He showed me the basics of SQL and MAQL, then let me loose on a whole new career.
I dove right in. And at first, I got a whole lot of stuff wrong. Then, I started reading a LOT (I have my own personal O'Reilly library at my desk now), and I figured it out. Eventually I moved over to the marketing team to offer analytics to the whole company.
I've always found it hard to call myself a "coder". I work in SQL every day to pull insights for my company and our clients. I taught myself a bit of Ruby so I could build and maintain automated reports, and now I'm learning Python so I can dive into more insights with Data Science. I always feel like I'm not a "real" programmer, that I'm an imposter and that, someday, everybody will find out.
I am lucky to work for a boss, and a company, that values learning and my personal growth. From the developers who answered all of my (many) questions about why my code won't run, to my boss who sent me to conferences and classes to further my education, I felt supported by team members to achieve my goals. I'm lucky to be able to surround myself with such great people.
But as for that feeling, that imposter feeling, it's important to recognize that everyone has this feeling (I hope), especially when you're first starting out. Don't wait until your product, or your knowledge, is 100% before stepping into something new. Learning is a lifelong journey, and some of the most important breakthroughs happen when we fail.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube said it perfectly: "Opportunities, the good ones, they're messy and confusing and hard to recognize. They're risky. They challenge you."
So, stay challenged. Find those opportunities. Let your nerd flag fly. And remember, never stop learning.