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Why I Decided to Become a Software Developer

My Background

I have been interested in computers and coding since I was very young, probably 8 or 9 years old. My earliest memories of coding are reading through my parents’ HTML For Dummies book and building a personal GeoCities page (filled with tons of context-less GIFs I had downloaded from random other sites) using Homesite 3. This was the late 90’s so still early internet days – I’m sure “90’s web design” triggers a very specific mental image, and yeah, it was just like that. I also made a few websites for some Sailor Moon and other anime forum communities I participated in, and of course, I made personal NeoPets pages as well.

At some point, my answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” was Computer Programmer – specifically, I wanted to make computer games. How I came to that idea, I honestly don’t remember. That said, growing up I wasn’t really exposed to much computer science, so I didn’t end up learning much about it (aside from the HTML dabbling). It wasn’t until I got to college that I was able to take my very first programming class – Intro to Programming with Java. I was SO excited to finally learn to code, but I ended up struggling a lot in the class. I found the basic concepts and syntax fairly straightforward, but had a hard time with some of the higher abstraction needed for projects where we had to write our own code. Most frustratingly, my TAs would only re-explain the basic concepts when I asked questions, so I didn’t get the help I really needed. I ended up getting my first ever C grade in that class, and I left it thinking I might just be “too stupid” to learn to program.

Looking For A Change

I graduated college with a degree in Linguistics and a realization that I didn’t have any qualifications for jobs that I actually wanted to do. This left me with insecurities that I struggled with for years. Eventually, though, I did manage to work my way towards a job that I could see myself being in for a while. I graduated college working at a coffee shop, then worked at a bead/jewelry store, and lastly found myself at a company that does print on demand custom fabric (where I have been for the last 5 years). It was here, where I worked in the operations department doing printing, packaging, and shipping, that I was reintroduced to the idea of pursuing programming. The company would, semi-regularly, allow employees to do internships with the engineering department which often lead to sponsoring enrollment at a local bootcamp. After completion, you would come back and join the engineering department. Being a college graduate, living on her own, and working full time for a low wage, this sounded like my best bet for getting the additional education I wanted, so it became a dream of mine to one day qualify for the internship. Unfortunately, due to some financial hardships at the company and later a poorly-timed job interview right before a new round of internships, I never got the opportunity to pursue that.

Fast forward to March 2020. I have been working in Product Development at this company for over a year, having upgraded from Customer Service (and before that, factory work). I enjoy my job fairly well, particularly some of the number crunching and spreadsheet formula building I get to do. On a Friday morning, two days after work-from-home COVID-19 lockdown was instated, and on the day of my 5 year anniversary with the company, I had my yearly review with my manager only to find I was being reassigned to my old factory job and taking a 25% pay cut. This was (and in many ways still is) one of the most devastating days of my life. It felt like everything I had been working towards over the past five years, the skills I had learned, the confidence I had gained through therapy but also encouragement from coworkers and managers had all just been burned down and thrown away. I was devastated, because I felt like I had finally “made it” to something that was comfortable for me, but now I was back to square one and not cut out for anything.

A Turning Point

It has taken months for me to heal from that experience, and it continues to be a challenge for me, particularly due to some major expenses that also hit me early on in the year. While I spent all this time feeling sorry for myself, I also never stopped thinking about improving myself and how I could move forward. I started to seriously consider pursuing coding again. I dove deep into some Web Development courses on LinkedIn Learning, but I had trouble finding a good rhythm and sticking with it (I have so many hobbies…but I plan to go back to them!). I also began my first foray into game development, making two micro games for game jams on – one with Game Maker Studio 2 and the other with Ren’Py. Somewhere down the line, I saw an ad for Career Karma, which promised to prepare you for the process of applying and getting into a coding bootcamp. This intrigued me, but as soon as I signed up I realized they were offering a little more handholding than I really needed. It did reintroduce the idea of bootcamps to me, and I realized that there were SO many more options than there were 5 years ago, when all they really had were full time immersive classes. Now there was part time, self paced, PLUS different financing options like ISAs. Once I realized that I could do a bootcamp while still working and not taking on massive debt, I began seriously considering doing it. And by seriously considering, I mean I thought about it for roughly two days before applying outright to Flatiron School. I did almost all the bootcamp prep work before my admissions meeting and LOVED it. I discussed all the program and financing options with my admissions counselor, and in the end decided that it was now or never! I was going to do this!

A Bright Future

I could not be more excited to embark on this journey with my Flatiron School cohort. I have spent too long dreaming of doing this but hesitating due to fear of not being good enough, but no longer! I love technology, I love problem solving, and I love bringing ideas to life by putting together the right pieces of information. I know this is going to be a great path for me, and I’m looking forward to working hard and learning a lot over the course of the next 10 months.

Top comments (1)

meshamakes profile image

Aye best wishes my friend, everything will become clearer in due time just takes a little practice. I wish you the best and that everything will go smoothly for you, Happy New Year when it comes around :)