Pilot: Starting my coding journey

Hey, I’m Jennilyn. Nice meeting you here.

Here I am yesterday with my fun, smart, supportive husband, who is a pilot.

Eleven days from now I will dive (drown?) into software development at The Iron Yard in Greenville, SC, and — between you and me — I’m terrified. Excited. Really excited, actually. But anxious.

I’ve been bored for years. Since high school, if I were to be honest. College was no breeze, but it didn’t exactly push me to the limit. Most of it is my fault; I picked what turned out to be an easy major (journalism/graphics) and, because I was a transfer student, shied from a minor or honors program for fear of not graduating “on time.”

After school, my husband and I lived in the DC area, and I busted my butt in the boutique retail industry, growing from full-time sales grunt to store manager rather quickly. But the hours, never seeing my husband, holidays away from my family, the mall… I was done after 4 years.

Then I tried something entirely different: optometry. For about a year I worked as an assistant under a great optician (hey Jen!< — she is so awesome) who showed me I could learn difficult things. I could solve problems (really well, in fact), and for once I wasn’t on a hamster wheel each workday.

But then it was time to move back home to Greenville. I worked for two years as a lead account manager at a small email marketing firm and loved it. “Challenge accepted” became my middle name: solving client problems, troubleshooting software/user errors, recruiting and coaching good colleagues, and captaining a major development project we contracted were all projects I relished. You could say I get a high off learning and finding solutions. I’m like Ms Pac-Man when it comes to new challenges: I’ll eat them all, then the ghosts will get me.

Ghosts started knocking last year. Working on that dev project is what inspired me to investigate coding: Isn’t there a better way to communicate tech and educate the client about this functionality and UI? Are there steps we as the client can take to make this process easier or more efficient? Could we hire someone to maintain this for us? I felt myself stalling out (yes, the Ms Pac-Man trait is both a strength and a weakness) because I didn’t have the tools to fix these issues. My hunger for that grew and curiosity eventually evolved into talking with TIY.

Trying out Codecademy last year with my four-legged audience/snack-stealer.

At this beginning stage I can say with certainty I’m ready to go Ms Pac-Man on some code learnin’ and become a kick-ass developer who also has the patience and relationship-building chops to keep clients coming back for more software, more websites, more apps. It’s going to be a long 12 weeks, and the ghosts that say you can’t may be hard to scare off at times, but I know the sweat, tears, discipline, and do it anyways will overcome.