The hustle is real.

Working my way to a development job at Gap.

So I got the job I’ve always wanted at a company I’ve always admired. However, these two years haven’t been without tears, doubt, rejection, sacrifices and risks. Just wanted to share the mistakes made and lessons learned with all my hustling mommas.

  1. Seek alternatives. How I wished I could’ve enrolled into a 14-week bootcamp. What a great alternative to a 2-year MS in Computer Science. However, like most parents or working individuals, there was NO WAY I could devote 40+ hours a week to coding. I have 3 young children. The tuition is high and the cost of not working for 3 months is even higher. So what is the alternative to the alternative? I resorted to free online tutorials. Codeacademy, Codeschool and Freecodecamp are just a few of the free resources. Treehouse and Lynda are free if you have a San Francisco library card. There are also weekly study groups held by Girl Develop It and Women Who Code. I was fortunate enough to be part of MotherCoders, a non-profit that helps women with kids on-ramp to careers in technology and later TechSF’s free evening web dev program for women. So if one way doesn’t work, keep looking as more and more alternatives are being offered these days.
  2. Stay focused. Everyday I get an email about a new class on Ruby, IOS app development, big data analysis, SQL, etc and for months I took the bait only to be left with unfinished tutorials. I learned my lesson and now use my precious time getting better at HTML, CSS and Javascript.
  3. Learn Javascript. I avoided Javascript for long time because it’s hard. But I knew that there was no way I could land a front-end job without it. I found that a classroom setting was the best way for me to learn and when I finally got it, coding got so much more exciting.
  4. Work on projects. Working on personal projects that mattered to me kept me motivated. Each time I learned something new, I thought of simple projects I could do to make code come to life. I created a simple website where I could post my fashion blogs. I made a dice rolling app for when I played Settlers of Catan (no one actually wanted to use it but whatever). I also created an interactive site for my kids to learn about different types of bears (they’re really into animals right now). Working on projects you love makes coding so much more fun and relevant.
  5. Make sacrifices. So no brunches, museum exhibits, or shopping trips with my girlfriends for now. All my free time outside of work and coding goes to my kids and I’m okay with that.
  6. Take risks. The biggest risk I’ve taken is a financial one. If you have a family and you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, you know this is BIG. Last year, I reduced my work hours to 60% and then 20% because I knew I couldn’t code, work full time and be there for my kids. We’ve had to use our savings to make up for the loss and we cut down on a lot of our expenses. I know this won’t work for everyone, but my husband and I always knew that my career change would come at a cost.
  7. Stay the course. I get extremely excited when I talk to others who want to give coding a shot. I just want to say that A LOT of things will make you want to give up. I feel so blessed for good friends who not only cheer me on, but go out of their way to get me the resources and support I need. I also have a family and community who encourage and pray for me all the time. So before you quit, reach out to friends and family. Go to study groups. Go to stackoverflow. Exhaust your resources. Stay the course.