What was your journey from academia to the tech world? Were there moments that pushed you to keep going?
Through my faculty study privilege at the college I was teaching at, I could take one class every semester for free. I selected a web development course that focused on the basics of HTML and CSS. There’s this instant gratification that helps you keep going in coding because I could open up a code editor and make something happen in my web browser. There is a wonderful satisfaction from seeing the direct result of your work so quickly. That quick feedback loop is like dopamine for your brain.
I can remember the first web pages I made in that class and they were so rough and rudimentary and then you go to a website that is clean with a flawless user experience and you gain a whole new level of understanding and respect for how those are built.
After that course, I studied for about a month before signing up for a coding bootcamp. I specifically signed up for a cohort that was starting in several months so I could give myself a runway to keep studying. My partner is in tech so I had an in-home mentor but the main thing he taught me was how to properly use Google. It sounds silly but search engines are so powerful because of the magnanimous nature of the engineering community.
I can Google a specific error message and instantly get hits from online forums, open source tools, or courses from tools like Pluralsight where I can get instant answers. This gets back to that instant feedback loop. Software engineering can be hard but you can get lightning fast feedback so you can fail fast and correct things even faster.
What did your timeline look like from the bootcamp to employment?
My path was slightly different, perhaps, than the standard route because my main goal of the cohort was to get selected to help teach the next bootcamp. They select one person who they pay to help teach the next round and with my background that intrigued me. I also thought, “If I spent six months learning this stuff and an additional six months teaching it, I’ll really have those foundational concepts down.”
Looking back now, I know that was a bit of imposter syndrome. I was nervous to approach my first full time job underprepared. After those six months of teaching, it was time for me to look elsewhere.