One afternoon at the age of twelve, I discovered a blue CD disc in a pile of mail my mother had on the table with the words “American Online Free Trial!” written on it. That was my introduction to the internet, and with it my world expanded into new interests such as languages and what I didn’t know at the time was called “coding”. This began when I started using one of the first blogging sites — Xanga. Through that site I began messing around with the HTML and CSS to customize my page, eventually creating my own blog templates from scratch.
I spent my afternoons and weekends making basic website templates using Paint, then Photoshop, and uploading them onto Xanga and using HTML to make the content fit into the boxes I had drawn. When Myspace arrived, I was what the kids say, the plug for my friends’ profile customizations.
Despite growing up in a community that statistically predicted a certain future for me, I was blessed to have parents and caring teachers who were invested in my success. They taught me that my surroundings do not determine my identity, or my future. I spent my days immersed in books, games, and making websites. Not knowing I could make a career out of my hobby because I was never exposed to computer programming in school, I pursued a liberal arts degree and went on to different career paths. However, I always found myself fiddling with lessons on Khan Academy or Codecademy. I even took weekend bootcamps through General Assembly just for fun. It’s during one of these bootcamps “Programming for non-Programmers” that I began to think, ‘Why don’t I just try and pursue a career in this?’
Through online research I landed on Flatiron School, about five years ago. I made calls and attended workshops that described their programs, but always made an excuse for myself. ‘I’ll never be able to focus’ or ‘My time has passed to do this, it’s going to be too hard’, and even ‘You never finish anything you start why would this be any different?’ Here I had the opportunity to make my passion a career and I was making excuses for why I wouldn’t succeed. Besides imposter syndrome, I was also too focused on doing everything I could to support myself and my family. After joining a multi-billion dollar company and climbing the corporate ladder, I had moved into a safer neighborhood and my family moved down south into a beautiful home. I was even able to help my siblings with their college tuitions (a team effort from myself, my sister, and my father).
Once my family and I were finally in better neighborhoods and my siblings were situated in college, I was faced with the realization that I was not happy with my current career path. I wasn’t waking up and doing something that brought genuine happiness to me. After the pandemic struck and I witnessed devastating changes to people’s lives and businesses, I made the difficult decision to leave my job due to the risk I faced being in such a volume, customer facing role. I took a chance on applying to Flatiron’s Software Engineering program, and was accepted.
I cannot express enough in words how overwhelmed with joy, fear, determination, and relief I am to finally have taken this step after so many years of just thinking about it. This is not only a step towards my dream career, but also a step towards being able to ensure my family’s financial security. It is never too late to pursue a passion, and if I can do it, anyone can.
Thanks for reading.