My Journey into Tech

About Me

After graduating from college, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I graduated with a degree in Zoology and had been working in a research lab but I couldn't see myself doing that as a full-time career. At the time I was in a long-distance relationship and decided to move across the country to Seattle, Washington. After working a few different jobs my friend suggested I try programming. And that's how my tech journey started!

Teaching myself

I first started learning Java and doing practice problems on CodingBat. While it was fun most of the time I got really discouraged when I couldn't figure out a problem or my code editor would turn all red. In school it feels like you either know something or you don't, and that's how I thought it had to be in programming. That everyone just memorized everything and knew the answers right away.

When I saw errors, I didn't realize they were there to help me all I saw was the wrong answer and thought that coding wasn't for me. I wasn't smart enough because I constantly got things wrong and had to get help from the internet. I'm not sure when I realized that mentality was wrong but I'm so glad I did. No one knows everything, and everyone gets things wrong. That's kind of what programming is all about. Overcoming problems, figuring out solutions, going from nothing to something.

After learning a bit of Java, I switched to learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. For me, it really helped to get feedback in the browser and I loved painting on a blank canvas. I used Codecademy and FreeCodeCamp as my learning resources. I got my frontend development certificate from FreeCodeCamp in 2018 after learning on and off!

After applying to a lot of places and getting denied or not hearing back I was really discouraged. I took a long break from coding. My projects were very small and were the same exact ones anyone who went through FreeCodeCamp had at the time. I didn't really understand what to learn next or where to go. It felt like I still had so much left to learn but I got so overwhelmed just thinking about it.

At the time I followed a lot of developers on Twitter and kept hearing a lot about React. So after a long break, I decided to get back to teaching myself. After learning React and working on my first solo side project I still really struggled with coding. Every day I would get stuck and every day I felt like I wasn't right for this career. Even today I still feel like this but I've gotten a lot better at squashing that feeling and believing in myself. Between then and September of 2019 I worked on programming on and off but just went through the motions most of the time.

Going to a bootcamp

Finally, I decided that the best thing for me to do was go to a boot camp. I needed the schedule and teachers to help keep me accountable because after trying to teach myself for so long I was too tired to keep motivating myself every day. After researching a bunch of different boot camps I decided to go to Flatiron and I'm really happy with the choice I made. Although I have some complaints about how the boot camp was done overall it helped me end up where am I and I made a lot of lifelong friends.

We learned Ruby, Rails, JavaScript, and React. It was great to learn a backend language since I didn't have any experience before and re-learning JavaScript and React really helped me solidify my fundamentals and clear up some confusing parts. Sometimes I have to learn things a couple of different times for them to really stick. I graduated in January and was really excited to start looking for a full-time job.

Finding my first job

Finding your first tech job can be really hard and it was especially hard for me and wasn't made any easier by the pandemic. I was lucky enough to pass a coding challenge for a contract position at Microsoft at the end of August! In between, I tried my best to keep my skills sharp by continuing to program every day.

I find algorithms so boring to work on so I was hoping to really impress people with my projects. I decided to teach myself TypeScript and GraphQL to set myself apart from other bootcamp grads. I still think I got really lucky and privileged to be able to focus on nothing but programming while the rest of the world was falling apart. I didn't have to worry about anyone but myself and my pets.

If you made it all the way here I'm pleasantly surprised and impressed. This ended up being a lot longer than I intended and a lot less organized. Thank you to all the people who helped me get here! If you've just started your journey into tech or need anything feel free to reach out to me on Twitter, I'd love to help in any way I can.

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