Yet Another Story on Career Changing

Up until two years ago I had never considered what coding actually was, let alone pursuing a career in it. During the pandemic, like many of us, I explored a range of new hobbies. I discovered a free online offering an introduction to Python. I thought, why not? If it goes badly no one has to know about it, and if it goes well, then fabulous.

After successfully completing the course I found another free 5-day course. Before I knew it I was considering doing the Code Institute Diploma in Full Stack Web Development. I always thought I would go back to study, following my undergrad in Politics, but never would have thought it would have been in the technology sector.

I won’t deny that it took a lot of courage to apply for the course. I had so many thoughts, would I succeed? Would people think I was being irrational or irresponsible? How would I manage to juggle work, study and life? In the end I decided to go for it. There was just this niggle at the back of my head that said, but what if? What if you are really good at this? What if this could be life changing? So I did it.

The course was really good but challenging. Between 48 hour intense shifts at the children’s home to tragic family bereavements, moving house and personal health issues, my own personal life did not fail to test me along with the course. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed it all. There were a lot of late nights, unsuccessful sessions and frustration, but valuable nonetheless.

About two thirds of the way through the course, I was able to secure a job for the end of the course. It was all becoming very real now. Although I took the course seriously, and I enjoyed it, there was still some part of me that didn't believe I could move into the field professionally. But it was happening.

Fast forward 8 months, I am proud to say I am still in my role and loving it. When I reflect on what I have learned in the past two years, it honestly pickles my brain. Don’t get me wrong I have imposter syndrome most days, experience an emotional rollercoaster and have many days that feel unsuccessful but that doesn’t take away from how much I enjoy coding and the feeling when the penny drops or the console error is solved. I am now applying to become a STEM ambassador and looking at volunteering to inspire young girls to consider a career in technology.

I believe that coding is a bit like making progress in the gym. It never gets easier, you just get stronger. As you get stronger your weights get heavier, your reps increase, your tempo changes. With coding your skills get better, your problem solving improves but there are new problems to solve everyday, new frameworks to learn, new people to collaborate with. There are endless opportunities to learn, develop and progress and that excites me.

I have found something that I enjoy doing, albeit not all the time, but I think that is impossible. It is a good balance of enjoyment, perseverance and discomfort. A few years ago I was listening to a podcast and it was talking about ambition. They likened being ambitious to standing underneath a street light in the dark. Outside your circle of light is unknown and uncomfortable, but you don’t know what is there. We make friends, find loved ones and start new jobs by experiencing uncomfortable situations. Without feeling discomfort we would never experience the things that give us such joy. I would encourage anyone reading this to do it. Take that leap because you really cannot predict what opportunities and experiences will come of it. I am only at the beginning of my software career, and I can honestly say I am equally terrified and excited as to what the future holds.

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Written by Anya McDonald


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