September 14, 2021
My Journey to Development
Over the course of my life I've considered a few different career paths. A few others I was told I'd be good at, but I never pursued. Ultimately, I wound up graduating from THEE Jackson State University with my B.A. in Graphic Design and a Minor in Marketing. A few years later I also graduated with my M.F.A. in Media Design from FullSail University. Although I was doing freelance work in branding and photography, while working full time as a Technical Support Technician, a salaried career in the design industry was still eluding me.
So I decided to quit my job and pursue design. After taking a self imposed sabbatical. 😂 During this time I began to rethink my career path though. Surprise, surprise. I had taken a Computer Aided Design class in undergrad and enjoyed it. Plus, I'd done some stuff on CodeCademy and Treehouse off and on for years. After looking at the career projections for a Software Engineer, I was sold. How best to transition though?
While I could go the self taught road, I figured that that I should probably go with a more structured approach. I began looking up coding bootcamps and happened upon an event being held by Thinkful in my city. I thought it was about building a Twitter bot, but turns out that event was for another day. The one I ended up attending was about attending Thinkful. So I got a breakdown of what their Engineering Immersion program was about, the community and payment options. I was all but sold at that point. A few weeks later I applied.
Truth be told, I failed the entrance exam my first time around. I can say it was because I was on vacation. Or nerves. Or whatever. But I failed it and it felt miserable. I completely blanked. Fortunately, I was able to take the exam again and that time I passed. 🙌🏾 Praise God.
I began my program January 2018. My graduate program was 100% remote so I wasn't completely a stranger to online school, but my experience was even better than I would have imagined. I loved having a dedicated mentor that I met with twice a week, the pair programming and the Q&A sessions. There was someone available to help answer a question nearly all hours of the day because there were mentors world wide and in different time zones. Building a few apps as we went through the program also helped to solidify concepts while learning how to work by ourselves, with another dev and finally as a team.
The career development program after graduating kept me on my toes about applying, but it was still a hard process. Many people mentioned they could see my potential and that I'd be a good culture fit. They were hesitant though about my lack of experience. Sometimes I don't even understand why "entry level" jobs are a thing because companies don't actually want to take the chance on an entry level candidate. I digress though.
I had a few interviews over the 6 months after "graduation" and then ended up getting interviewed without even knowing it. I was at a whiteboarding event being held by LEARN Academy and this gentleman, Matt, came over to talk to me about my code. He liked what I was doing. The next day, I had an email from him asking what my career goals were and if I'd like to talk. I didn't think anything of it because I had no idea who this guy was. We had a few conversations and he had me come in to meet his business parter, Rob. Turns out that Rob and Matt were co-founders of a dev agency. Even still I had no thoughts. In retrospect that was probably best because I wasn't nervous. Wasn't trying to give my elevator pitch or recall code syntax and best practices from memory. I was just having conversations. A couple of weeks later, I had a job offer.
That was almost three years ago. I've been blessed to work with an amazing group of people at Notch8 on some dope React, React Native and Rails codebases. I've grown as a developer and person. Needless to say, I don't think I'll be career switching again. Lol.
Software development isn't for everyone. If you're thinking about becoming a software developer though, give it a shot. Do your research first of course and see if you have the aptitude and desire for it. It's challenging and rewarding at the same time. Every day there's a new problem to solve. But that's part of the beauty of it all. If you start succumbing to imposter syndrome, check out my blog post about that too.
If you'd like to chat personally, you can send me an email or reach out at any of my listed social handles.
See you next time. 🙃