My path to become a Web Developer

How can I start? I’ve never ever EVER written a story on a blog before, so be patient if the post seems like a drunken hobo wrote it…

I was postponing writting on this blog cause yeah I’m not really the creative writer type, but since the installation of my MongoDB is taking a while and I’m bored then I guess it’s a good time to do it…

Huh? MongoDB? yeah well I’m currently trying to learn some back-end development at the moment so you know the context of it, but before I get into that let me tell you my story:


Little Women in El Salvador

Have you ever read or watched the movie “Little Women”? and with the movie I mean the 1994 version with handsome Christian Bale and Winona Ryder. Well sometimes I thing my life is a version of it with exception of the father fighting in war and people dying of scarlet fever…

From a salvadoran father and a nicaraguan mother, I was born in a small country named El Salvador on December 30th, 1993; the youngest of four girls by six years of difference from the last one. I guess my father was looking for a boy, but surprise surprise, his only hope for an heir resulted in me! But do not worry, my father never complained about it…maybe… Aaaaaanyway, my family like many others unfortunately split with divorce in the late 90’s due to issues I miiiight talk about later but for now, it’s not important.

So even after the complicated divorce and losing the house we grew up in, my mother made the greatest effort of raising the four of us by herself trying to give us a proper quality of life althougth she never got to finish college and never got a “proper” job since she married my father very young but she has always been blessed and got a house with the help of family members and always found a way to move forward with her amazing God given talent of being creative by making linens, jewlery and clothings to sell and working with my grandparent’s small business of selling beauty salon supplies and later setting up her own beauty salon but due to criminality issues of my dear El Salvador she had to close it down to prevent being extorted by gangs that were already extorting most of the nearby businesses, but even still she kept working hard to keep us afloat and I always wondered how could she kept her sanity by juggling with four girls, many jobs and bills to pay, but there she was… standing tall by putting her faith in God who always gave her the will to move forward.

In the meanwhile, my sisters and I kept growing up, studying in High School, later University and getting our bachelors to become professionals by the grace of God; the oldest being and Industrial Engineer, the second a Marketer, the third a Food Engineer and finally me an Industrial Engineer as well. Then later, little by little each of my sisters got married and started to have children and moving on with their lives with great success.


Will I be successful?…

Ok, so this has gotten long, I’m sorry… but try to stick with me :), I’ll try to make funny or not funny jokes so you can either laugh or do a facepalm, at least might be better than just staring at the screen figuring out why are you even reading this.

Now let me tell you a bit more about myself, and my journey…

As you know by now, I’m the youngest of four girls, I’m very proud to say my sisters have always been super smart and hard working girls, so nothing less was expected of me, but in my teenage years sometimes I found myself being a bit lazy with my studies since I hated subjects as Spanish and Life Orientation (really.. Life Orientation a subject in highschool???) and I didn’t like wasting my time on studying something I didn’t even cared about so I was just an average student but I loved Physics since it was very practical and made you understand how things work around you so at least that made me happy. But since school system is not about succeeding in what you are good at but to have just general knowledge I doubted if I would ever be as as successful as my older sisters, worried about what the future my hold for me…

So I was always trying to figure out what kind of career path I should take to be as successful as them but at the same time trying to choose something that I thought would make me happy, but sometimes if you want to have a “successful” life you should study something that will make it easier for you to find a stable job and earn good money, right?

Yeah, I’m sorry Professor McGonagall …

So I spent a lot of time thinking what I wanted to be and do… Since I liked drawing and was interested in design I thought about Architecture, I loved the concept but since being an architect in my country was very risky I decided to go for Industrial Engineer, since I was always interested in applied sciences, understanding the world, how things work and why, being able to apply it in a way that could be very useful in bussines, and being able to have better job opportunities mostly in a third world country like El Salvador so being an Industrial Engineer was a perfect fit for that path…But there was always a hole in my heart, there was something missing in the things I was learning in university.

I liked Industrial Engineering, I really did and I loved subjects like fluid mechanics and finance, I even became a Physics instructor and thought about specializing in finance someday but I was always drawn to subjects that had to do at least a tiny bit with software and it’s development but the subjects in my bachelor weren’t enough they were mostly directed to management.It made sense that I wasn’t feeling like I was getting enough information because since I was very little and had the capability to use a computer I was good at it, always had excellent grades in Informatics in Highschool and I even played with HTML without even knowing what the hell it really was, I was just trying to make a cute profile for my virtual pets in Neopets (best site eveeeer, if you played it you know what I’m talking about, I’m not ashamed, I still visit them from time to time after months of not feeding them and putting them into an hotel because of guilt) or customize my Hi5 page(Ohhh yess, I used the amazing Hi5) and I loved it!(not Hi5, but the customizing to be clear).

Anyway back then I never heard the concept of “Web Developer” or “Computer Science”, even while in University, I had never met a person who was a developer or a programmer of the sort so I was very oblivious of the subject, I just knew I liked computers, their mechanics, how software works, creating stuff, but didn’t realized I could choose it as a career, most of the people around me were focused on getting an administrative job that could give them better money to be able to get out of their parent’s house by getting married and have an average life quality or studying the “easiest” bachelors because they were forced to study in university because in El Salvador you don’t have many chances if you don’t go to University. So just like the others I was going into that path, and had the same mentality, thinking to myself: “I will get some job at a bank and start from 0 as a badly paid assistant, earning 400$/month to start and soon get married with my boyfriend and live a normal life”. Thankfuly life had a different path for me…

Life changing path…

I was trying to earn some money so I started teaching english, I was about to finish with my bachelor, had a long-term-relationship, and just got an internship in a very popular bank, I was saving money, thinking that soon I might get engaged, and live a stable life till I died. But then after going througth certain situations in my life and started to get sick of conforming with what I had since I was not happy at all I suddenly started thinking of ways to escape from mediocrity and while talking with a classmate and talking about how dull life seemed at the moment she started talking about girls that changed their lives by going abroad as Au-Pair, and suddenly a seed of motivation started to grow in me, it was a small idea, that could maybe change my life forever or just help me escape from my current situation…

So long story short… I decided to become an Au Pair, I found a nice young family in Berlin, and left everything behind me just after finishing my thesis and leaving everything ready so I could collect my diploma later, I just knew I needed to go far faaaar away, I didn’t care at all I would miss my graduation ceremony with my classmates, be alone and starting from 0. I always felt in my heart that I didn’t want to stay in El Salvador forever and my family was incredibly supportive, they knew that in my country I was not going to be able to reach my full potential, and I was going to be safer. I don’t intend to talk badly about my country, but it is the reality we are living in. El Salvador can be amazing, many places to go and see, beautiful beaches and awesome people but politicaly and security wise it’s a mess, but I’m not here to talk about politics, it’s a boring subject, so let’s move on…


A picture some things in El Salvador that make it amazing, like surfing and fooood:

El Tunco Beach, El Salvador
Pupusas aka: the best FOOD IN THE WORLD!

So when I got to Berlin I started to have new experiences like being independent and alone in a city I knew nothing about, where I knew nothing about the language without friends and family, and being able to use public transport for the first time(Berlin’s public transport is amazing btw). It was amazing and started loving my life here, it made me think about more about what I wanted for my future and what I really wanted to do. So at first I was thinking about still pursuing an Industrial Engineering path, but in Germany as a non-European and not knowing the language fluently and without real job experience it can be super complicated to find a job.

So I decided to try and apply to a new University and learn something I was really interested in since it had a lot to do with software development and I could use the knowledge I adquired in University: Product Management. But the requirements for being able to study in Germany were very difficult to obtain since the best way to get a visa for studying in Germany is to have a blocked account in a bank with a huge amout of money that I didn’t have but I still had motivation and tried to apply to this new University in Berlin, and I was pretty sure they would accept me because I knew I had enough skills, I already had a bachelor and did my best in the application process, but apparently by being a non-European citizen and struggling with money the University rejected me…Apparently they only cared about the money…

So I started to try to picture myself back in my home country, and how was I going to let go of all of the benefits of being in First-World country and live a normal life again. Somehow I was getting used to the idea, and started to accept my fate.

So I was trying to enjoy the rest of my time in Berlin, and prepare myself mentally to go back to El Salvador. But since Berlin is a city where 3 out of 5 people I met where software engineers I started to hear more about the subject and my interest in programming was comming back. So I started to research more on the subject: what is a programmer? what do they do? and the more I searched I was getting more hooked.

My path as a Web Developer begun…

So I adventured myself and started teaching myself Python, but I got bored with it, and thought that maybe programming was not for me. But then while I was researching more I came with the concept of Web Development and what can you do with it so I started teaching myself HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and then, while creating things and realizing how useful it was and how amazing it felt to see things that you created worked, at that moment, a fire lit up in me, I felt amazing! I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to become a fullstack Web Developer…

So I started to go to many co-learning meetups and conferences related to tech and development (that’s another reason why I love Berlin) and I was learning a looooot, and I realized I was even studying on weekends instead of going partying, because I was enjoying it so much, I started to feel happier.

The Coding Challenge…

Then one day, while being on Facebook posting stupid memes and watching funny dog videos I came up with a post in a “coding” group for girls, it was an event hosted by a coding bootcamp named IronHack one of the best coding bootcamps in the world and it was called “Berlin Coding Challenge”, so I decided to give it a try and prove if I was good at being a web developer. ..

The day of the event arrived, it would last two months, and I was coding awaaaay, enjoying every bit of the challenge and finally creating my own quiz as final challenge. I was a bit ambitious, I wanted to make it fun, put animations everywhere and making it appear a frigging different gif everytime you had a correct answer or wrong answer for a period of time so while researching I realized I had to use SetTimeout thinking it would be easy and I can just imagine my guardian developer angel thinking “oh Rebeca, my sweet summer child…”. I wanted to use the method withought knowing about scopes *facepalm* but anyway, I want to make this post non-developer friendly as well, so let’s just say I was getting myself a headache out of ignorance.

But I didn’t want to give up, I WANTED THE FRIGGING GIFS TO BE DIFFERENT EVERYTIME!!! I didn’t want a stupid dull quiz game, I wanted to make it as great as I could, Harry Potter themed of course and awesome af, so I struggled, I almost had a stroke and I was about to rip my hair off, but I was loving the challenge, and finally…. FINALLY, I made it!!! I could make a dancing Dumbledore gif appear once and then a sassy Snape and so on. I don’t want to bore you into details and if you are a pro you would think: “really? she was worrying about a simple loop?” But at the moment while I had just two months of teaching myself javascript, IT WAS AWESOME.

AWESOOOOOOOOOOME

So the final day of the challenge came, and I was super nervous, thinking that there were going to be a lot of people better than me, that I would never ever win something with my skills, but I was wrong… I had delivered the best quiz… I had just won a backpack and a picture with winners, but it had given me more than that.. It gave me the light that showed me that this is what I should be doing, this was my purpose, this was my life passion.

The Scholarship…

I had finished my challenge, I knew my purpose, and even thought I had still resignated to going back to El Salvador but anyway I was happy to know that even if I had to go back I could still pursue my passion and be happy. Then one day I saw an announcement from IronHack, they were giving away scholarships to women thanks to the organization Kleiderkreisel. And I just thought: “I will never get a scholarship, there will be tons of women better than me, but anyway, it won’t hurt trying…”. Again me, with my pessimistic mentality and doubting about myself….

So I applied to the scholarship…I was accepted to get interviewed…. The interviews where going to last three days since there where hundreds of women that applied… They gave out some JavaScript challenges to be completed, I did my best but I couldn’t finish the last exersice…I was called to talk about my motivation, I showed that I really wanted it…I was sad about not finishing the last exercise but I still kept trying to find the solution by myself and kept going on with my life, waiting for the response that I KNEW they would give me a big FAT NO…

But then an email arrived… I couldn’t believe it… I WON HALF SCHOLARSHIP!!!!! WHAT — THE — HELL!!!

I knew it was a lot of money still, but I knew it would be worth it, so I started to count all the money I saved, and started to talk to my family about it, and I started to recieve a lot of support even from some family members that didn’t have much money and were struggling with money themselves wanted to help, I also received a lot of support from my father.

I could collect enough money for the tuition and a couple of family members that also believed in me lent me the money I needed for my visa to be a Language student so I could stay at least a year longer and be able to also study in the bootcamp and widening my chances for a better future….

  • I got the visa
  • I’m learning german
  • I’m learning what I love…
  • Getting a lot of support from the team at Ironhack (specially Daniel Lopez, he’s amazing!!)
  • I’m enjoying Berlin…
  • I have hope

So here I am now I’m still working hard and studying hard to be a professional Web Developer, hence I’m installing MongoDB, I’m teaching myself besides the Web Development Bootcamp, not because the bootcamp is not good, but because I know that if I want to be the very best I have to teach myself too.

I want to thank you for reading all of this, I know it was not so super exciting, but my intention is for you to know and be aware that if you have something you are passionate about, do not underestimate yourself, keep teaching yourself, don’t conform with what other’s teach you, be your own teacher… DON’T GIVE UP… HAVE FAITH..TAKE RISKS… WORK HARD!!!!

And finally….my story has come to an end…. for now….