Retooling for Success: How I Made the Transition to Software Development in My 30s
Hi there, I'm Tia, and I'd like to share with you my journey of becoming a software developer.
Growing up, I was always a creative kid. I loved to draw and make things and that's what I was good at. In fact, it was the only thing I thought I was really good at. In the back of my mind, I always had an interest in technology too, but I never thought of pursuing it as a career. Instead, I pursued a degree in Illustration with Animation and embarked on following my dream of being an illustrator and product designer. I enjoyed making freelance art and designing products for my online shop and comic con artist booth, but ultimately it was hard to make a living that way. I was also fiercely independant and spent many years working in jobs I hated in order to pay the rent and not have to rely on anyone. Over time I became exhausted and, deep down, I knew something was missing.
As I entered my thirties, I started to feel restless. I had no career really to speak of and I began to question whether I was truly fulfilled in my life. Eventually 2020 rolled around and Covid creeped onto the scene. I took this as a sign to shake things up and, with the support of my amazing partner, I decided to take a leap of faith and follow my other passion for technology.
I started by learning coding on my own, watching online tutorials, reading books, and practicing every chance I got. Making something from code, was the most creative I'd ever felt. The more I learned, the more excited I became about the possibilities that software development offered.
I was determined to make a career change, but I knew it wouldn't be easy. I was older than most people who were starting out in the field, and I lacked a computer science degeree or any relevant experience. However, I didn't let that discourage me. Instead, I worked harder than ever before. I quit my call center job and threw myself into learning full time, enrolling in a 14-week coding bootcamp to quickly get up to speed. Bootcamp wasn't easy because, due to the Covid lockdown, we had to complete it entirely remotely...little did I know though that this would be very useful practice for the future.
I also reached out to people on social media and shared my journey. It's a good technique to "learn in public". What I mean by that is by sharing your challenges and achievements with other people, you're holding yourself accountable. Also the support and encouragement I received from other people was invaluable to me.
Finally, my hard work paid off. After graduating from bootcamp, I landed my first job as a software developer, and I couldn't have been happier. I was very nervous and didn't have a lot of confidence in myself to begin with. I battled with imposter syndrome, but I had to try and keep thinking back to how hard I worked to get here. Of course, you also have to remain humble and remember that you'll never know it all; there's always something new to learn in a career as a software developer, but that's what makes it so exciting to me.
Looking back, I'm so grateful that I took that leap of faith and pursued my passion for technology. It was scary at first, but it's been so rewarding. I hope my story inspires others who may be considering a career change later in life. It's never too late to follow your dreams and pursue what truly makes you happy.