4 Reasons Why I Chose Programming as my New Career Path

At 30 years old I felt lost in my career. It got to the point where I had to ask myself a very serious question - What Did I Want to be When I Grow Up?

After months of research, it came down to these 4 reasons pushing me to take the plunge into a career in programming…

1. Self-fulfilment

While I absolute loved the Publishing company I worked for at the time, and the people I worked with, my role had morphed into something that wasn’t a great fit for me. I felt under-qualified and was waffling through days with no real passion for it and I started to crave a tangible skill that I could hone and specialise and be respected for.

I came across programming when a colleague mentioned she was leaving to join Founders & Coders — a coding bootcamp. From everything she told me, coding sounded exactly what I was looking for. I liked the idea that with code it either worked or it didn’t. Some of my struggles in my job hung around being able to come up with social media strategies and ways of selling tickets to events and I didn’t enjoy it, nor did I feel any good at it.

I remember my bootcamp-bound colleague telling me that learning to code was “like learning a foreign language”. I followed up this conversation with a lot of online research but it didn’t take long for me to realise I was sold. I left my job without anything else lined up. But I was armed with a new mission: to become a programmer.

2. Creativity

Before discovering the world of online programming tutorials, I would get to the weekend and all I wanted was to do something creative. I tried photography, videography, jewellery design, furniture upcycling, poetry, blogging, travel journaling and even cartography. But nothing stuck. After leaving my job I decided I should find a role at a tech company, which I did — within an operations team. From there I gathered as much information as I could from anyone I met.

I began to hear from engineers that a programmer commits themselves to a life of learning. I was drawn to this because I knew that real learning is creative. You’re being curious, trying different things, failing, getting better, failing again, improvising and then succeeding. On top of that, the ability to be able to build anything you put your mind to is pure creativity and that’s what programming is: learning and building.

With this new world of possibilities opening up to me, the notes on my iPhone started to become filled with ideas for prospective projects that I couldn’t wait to get started on.

3. The Community

I started to discover an overwhelming amount of events and meetups for new coders. I selected a few to go along to and was immediately struck by the amount of people willing to help, teach and mentor others. I enjoyed meeting new people who were on similar journeys and learning about how and why they had made the switch into tech.

Many of the presenters at these meetups admitted to only having a few years experience and yet, here they were, presenting to a room full of people on a topic they had only just learnt themselves. I felt an affinity for their simultaneous bravery and vulnerability. I had found a pool of people who were all going through the transition that I wanted to make myself and it made this new found goal of mine seem so much more attainable.

Not to mention you can be fed and watered every night of the week, free of charge, with the amount of events that are taking place in London.

4. Diversity in tech

It’s hard to ignore the desperate need for diversity in tech when the statistics are so depressing. I began to realise that even I had fallen prey to the stereotypes from a young age.

I was pretty good at Design Technology in school, making near-perfect products from wood and fibreglass. I have memories of building circuit boards in Physics and feeling triumphant when they worked. I was the first in class to finish wiring a plug — for some reason the Earth Wire fascinated me! In IT I built a colourful website about saving the lions in Africa and I was oh-so-proud of myself. But I ignored all the fun I was having and dropped those subjects because they seemed like ‘boy subjects’. The thought never occurred to me to pursue any of them, and the teachers never felt the need to encourage girls to continue in those areas.

From here on out, I want to be part of the movement that helps to encourage young girls to take up STEM subjects by bringing more women into the tech industry and showing them that they can go for it too.

In March I will be starting the Software Engineering Immersive course (formerly Web Development Immersive) at General Assembly London, officially starting my transition into a career in programming and I cannot wait!

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