First Step

Posted by jouissances on May 16, 2018

This post marks my first step towards becoming a career Full Stack developer.

I’m not, by any means, the first mid-career changer who decided to pursue tech as a lifetime career. For me, that original career path is as a medical representative in Singapore, and eventually becoming a medical science liaison (MSL).

I first dabbled in code when I was 16, designing custom HTML and CSS post templates for online Harry Potter RPG forums. I didn’t know it was called ‘code’ then, I just figured it made things look and work better. One thing led to another, and after my college graduation, I had plenty of free time while job-searching, and I clicked on an ad that led me to Codecademy. I spent many hours learning the basics of Front End, and after a week, I decided to enrol in one of the Pro Intensive courses. As of now, they have 9 Intensive courses, from Build Websites from Scratch, Build Front-End Web Apps, Build Website UIs, Programming with Python, to Data Analysis. I completed the first three courses, but I still didn’t feel satisfied. I would browse through SiteInspire and I would get a headache while trying to apply my current skills to build those products. I couldn’t. I wanted to learn so much more. By now, 4 months have passed and I was just starting with my current job.

Prior to this job, I have never faced so many rejections in a day. Nevertheless, it taught me about perseverance and gradually, I learned a few things about the trade and how I can improve. I still learn to code after work hours, putting in hour after hour to this newfound hobby. I started asking my clients if they would like a freelance web development service, and several said yes! I’ve never been so excited — finally, I wasn’t offering a product that others made, I was offering my own product. Something that I can call my own and be proud of, something that potentially can help users and benefit the clients.

During these times, I sought out help like no other — I signed up for more courses, including design (and eventually, UI/UX Design), parsed through many arrays of resources (which I’ve collated here) and determined which ones are worth the time and cost. I practiced a lot harder. I made CodeNewbie and User Defenders part of my daily commute routine. I joined local coding Slack channels, attended free meetups, and approached potential mentors who I really admire and respect. I have never felt more exhausted, but at the same time, I have never felt so fulfilled, motivated, and thrilled about something. After mulling for a couple of weeks, it was Saron’s confidence, encouragement, and prowess that finally convinced me to join Flatiron School. And after completing the Bootcamp Prep, I enrolled with a Women Take Tech scholarship (made possible by Flatiron and Lyft) under my belt.

There are many reasons why I believe that tech is a thriving industry and always will be. I’ll share a few here:

  1. The possibility of creating and inventing any tech product is almost limitless.
    There isn’t an industry quite like this. The improvements in AI (think Google Duplex), science, and software languages in the past decade alone is enough proof that technology can be unstoppable. Furthermore, depending on the project scope, the cost of building a product can virtually be zero — except for time and effort.

  2. The intersection of many different disciplines with tech.
    The typical pillars of industrial sectors include STEM, arts, humanities, education, business, finance, and security. Tech is one sector which is able to connect multiple disciplines, allowing a diversity of resources to interact and create something unique. I’d like to think that in the future, these different areas would have integrated tech in their system so deep, that everything will become dependent on tech to operate efficiently, and thus increasing the demand for skilled engineers.

  3. The community is superb, supportive, and incredibly resourceful.
    There is something about the tech community that is truly encouraging. From open-source projects to a casual extended helping hand from a senior developer, there is no place where a newbie developer wouldn’t feel welcome. Some developers can be quite critical, yes, but there are so many others who are willing to help and guide a newbie along on the right path. There is no metropolitan city on Earth that doesn’t have a local coding community meetup, or an annual conference, or a coding bootcamp. Also, #MINSWAN.

  4. Coding allows for the expression of both an individual’s creative and logical processes.
    Firstly, this may not directly contribute to the progress of tech as a whole, and secondly, it is a lesser known concept about programming, which is substantiated here. As a discipline, computer science and data theories may seem to have a tendency to focus more towards logical thinking; however, the fact that there are many ways to solve a problem proves that creativity is required in the field of programming. And at an individual’s level, this feature of coding can be very liberating, encouraging more and more learners to participate in the ecosystem.

I have many other slew of reasons, but I’m sure that I might be preaching to the choir here. I’m also very opinionated about the importance of design in creating impactful products, which is why I’m also enrolled in a UX Design course. After my Flatiron graduation, I would like to find a Junior Developer position where I’m also allowed to be flexible and participate in the UX research team, or vice versa. I would like to find a job that provides me with a much better financial resource, future prospect, and autonomy when it comes to learning continuously. I would love to find a job that allows me the freedom to work remotely, preferably with a small, capable, and ambitious team.

In 5 years’ time, I hope to be able to also build a remote digital agency that focuses on creating impact for SMEs and non-profits.

There are many things I’m not confident about — such as the hiring climate in Singapore by the time I graduate, the discrepancy between the advertised salaries on bootcamps and the actual salaries which local companies are willing to offer. I would even be lying if I was to say that I’m perfectly confident that everything will go easy during this bootcamp, especially with the GMT +8 timezone and 3AM study groups.

But here’s to never giving up.