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Nevertheless, Oiza Coded

I began learning code in 2015 because I wanted to build a fundraising web app for Africans in the diaspora to support non-profits in their home countries. At the time I was working in the U.S. in the international public & non-profit sector. I felt so proud of myself for finishing an introductory HTML course at Codecademy. I became excited about the possibility of learning more code and building something vital and useful. But work pressures and life circumstances got in the way. A year later, while working with a career coach to help me explore options for changing paths, programming was one of the possibilities we discussed. However, I knew I would face visa restrictions if I tried to “start over” in a new career while living in the States. For this, and a few other reasons, including schooling, I moved to Canada.

I tried web development again in 2018 while on a “career sabbatical” in my home country ahead of my relocation to Toronto. Instead of taking the recommended MBA accounting and finance prep courses for my school, I procrastinated with online tutorials in JavaScript. Just like in 2015, I experienced this incredibly exciting flow state, where hours would pass by while learning. I realized that THIS was a technical skill I could get really good at, which could give me options. So, I dropped out of business school, kept learning online, and in January of this year enrolled in a reputable boot camp with local connections in my city (really important to an immigrant).

I am in the process of overcoming my anxiety around having a different learning style. Since I was a child, my learning style has been to ask lots of questions and to have things drawn visually. In my mid-30s I’m not sure I want to change that! Yet I’ve noticed in this field that sometimes people see asking questions as a show of ignorance or weakness. Thankfully not everyone shares this view. It’s hard to go from being an expert in one field to a total beginner in another. I try to remember that.

I’m currently hacking a financial planning web app I built in react! My website works for the most part, but I am still in the process of figuring out how to clear the state of selected input fields after the user clicks submit. I and three classmates are also working on a “to-do list” type app that through Firebase and Google authentication allows users to login, save items and log out of the app.

My advice for women and non-binary folks is to celebrate the courage it takes to start over, particularly in a field that has traditionally been seen as out of reach. And keep learning! When you’re a newbie it can feel like other people are learning quicker or building better apps. You have to find a way to detach from those feelings of insecurity and hopelessness. Because you’re a better coder today than you were a year ago. And in another year, you’ll be even more kick-ass.

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