My journey to Sparta

I’m a woman. I’m a woman in tech. I’m a woman in tech with a Law degree and this is my story.

Graduating with a Law degree

Two years ago I graduated with a Law degree and the next step was to save up or take out a loan to do my LPC (Legal Practitioner Course) and masters. I remember the evening of graduation, sitting on my laptop watching all the Facebook statuses and pictures roll in. They all pretty much consisted of the following statuses:

“Finally, after three years of hard work I graduated. Happiest day of my life!!”

“This was by far one of the best days of my life”

“Got a 2.1!!! Hard work pays off!!!”

And the pictures, let’s not forget the millions of pictures.I even put myself in a few awkward positions just so I could capture what I thought could be a really profound graduation picture. Did I achieve it? No, but that’s besides the point. I sat there going through my Facebook feed thinking “Are they really that happy?”, “Should I not be as happy?” or “Am I incredibly happy right now and I just haven’t picked up on it yet?” I was the first person in my family to go university and my family was so proud. I, on the other hand, went through the motions but I couldn’t relate.

Pretty much everyone I knew from my course was now preparing for the LPC. I decided to take a year out and save money, after all it was a hefty amount to pay. There are a few times in my life where I salute myself for making the right decision but this was one of them. I grew more in that year than my 3 years in university. You see creative subjects like art, drama or music were nonsense because there was no stability, and you only pursued subjects with the end goal of getting a steady job. That’s what I was told. My sister even once said to me “You’re academic Asma, you’ll get good grades but you’re not creative.” Now I look back at that and I think it’s crazy how much weight I put to that. I thought my sister knows best, even if it overlooked my previous achievements. I put all my creative interests aside for years and decided this is what I am, and so this is all I could achieve. That year I had nothing to lose so I got back into drawing, writing and reading anything that I thought would be interesting. My sister recently asked me to paint her something because I was quite creative. It’s funny that she says that now and years ago her passing comment defined me. That was the second pinpointing moment when I realised I have more than one skill set.

How I got into coding

Fast forward a few months and I had just come back from volunteering abroad in Zimbabwe. I started a charity project and the best way to get the message across of this project was on a website. The only way I knew a website could be created was through Wix. That’s right, I pretty much thought websites were created on Wix. Now I found that Wix has its restrictions and I thought this can’t be how people make websites. I went on youtube and typed in ‘How to make a website’. I was reading through the comments and there was a link to Codecademy. (I want to take this moment to thank anonymous youtuber for the link to Codeacademy, your comment changed my life and you don’t even know it) I began the ‘Make a website’ course and ten minutes in I thought this is amazing. It was like another world for me. I always pretty much had two images in my head of programmers.

It was either this.

Source http://go.sky.com

Or this.

Source http://blog.extremehacking.org

I kept at it as a hobby. I thought I joined the race way too late so I would learn at my own pace purely because I enjoyed it. I should still do Law, shouldn’t I? As you grow up getting asked ‘what do you want to do?’ becomes a terrifying question, partially because people expect one set answer and mine was always Law. However, my perspective changed when I watched this Tedx Talks, about multi-potentialites, I’d highly recommend it. The main message I took from that is that not only is it ok to have different interests, it is encouraged because you learn to adapt fast. You enjoy the frustrations of starting from the beginning, but you never really start from scratch because you’ve learnt skills along the way in other parts of your life. I realised I wasn’t starting from scratch I just had to adapt. This was my third defining moment.

https://youtu.be/QJORi5VO1F8 here’s the link for anyone who wants to watch the talk.

Source http://qaspire.com

My first job with technical exposure

I gave my CV to a recruitment agency in the hopes that my basic HTML and CSS skills would get me somewhere. They put me forward for a role that I was not qualified for at all. I spoke to my recruiter and we both agreed it was a long shot, I don’t think either of us expected to hear back.

Shockingly enough they offered me an interview. I never got the job and again this is another thing I’m thankful for. I was clearly not qualified and I had no desire to hide it when being asked. After listing all the things I didn’t know, I decided to tell the interviewer what I did have. Curiosity. I was invited to another interview after that but they quite understandably gave it to the qualified candidate with years of experience. On the plus side however, they created a role for me which was better suited and exposed me to more technical work. I was now a Junior Business Analyst/Software Tester.

Source https://tiffanylin1689.wordpress.com

It was a difficult transition. I came in as a contractor and so I didn’t get much in the way of training. I spent a lot of weekends on Excel, Visio and SQL etc. All in all however what I’m grateful about is that when you’re thrown in the deep end you learn how to swim. Fast forward 6 months and the project was ending and so it was time for the next opportunity. I felt empowered.

I decided to do what I always wanted to do and do it wholeheartedly. I wanted to be a developer and there was no point in dismissing it as a hobby anymore. I searched for a million different opportunities and that’s when I came across Sparta global.

Now I won’t go on anymore but this week I’ve been sitting in my class with like-minded lovely people, an amazing trainer and I’m excited to learn. I can’t completely pinpoint one exact moment that led me here, but I can tell you all one thing right now, I’m pretty happy.