From Curious to Coder — My Path to Web Development
It’s the summer of 2011. The clock reads 3:45 AM. It’s hot, I’m drained, but I can’t sleep — not when my image keeps overflowing out of it’s border. No way. I’m scrolling through lines and lines of CSS, coding with minimal knowledge of the subject. I had to make sure my Tumblr layout looked perfect, like most 18 year olds did back then. Priorities, right? Little did I know, this was the beginning of my love for web development.
Finding my way to web development was not linear whatsoever. The pressure of being a teenager and getting into a good college was all I could think of. My parents were constantly giving me “helpful suggestions” on what career I should lean towards. A mixture of anxiety, confusion, indecisiveness, and not wanting to disappoint my parents completely steered me away from web development as a career choice. So, with my path starting me elsewhere, coding slowly became a thing I did one summer as a teenager. It was soon a thing of my past, and as life went on, it was completely forgotten.
Fast forward to 2018, almost a decade later. This is after working so many jobs, varying from all types of paces, environments, and skill sets. I attended not one, but three post secondary schools, to which I did not complete. I knew when I was in my programs that there was something missing. Each time I made the very difficult decision to stop a program, I went back to not knowing what to do. I felt a wave of anxiety pull me under, and I was completely lost. These were incredibly challenging points of my life, but of course I always found my way back to where I needed to be.
I can’t tell you exactly when it clicked, but I was sitting in my boyfriends studio, scrolling through Facebook, when I came across an article titled “Best Coding Schools In Toronto”. I clicked the article out of curiosity, and began to read. Half way through the article, an idea sparked in my head. I turned to my partner and asked if it would be a wise idea to look into coding as a career. He told me to go for it. This came not too long after I had quit my third school, and I was feeling scared of committing to a new chapter in my education. I had an immediate thought of “what if you fail again?” pop into my head. Right away, I wanted to push any thoughts of education to the side, and continue to work at the restaurant I was employed at until I was mentally prepared.
To my luck, my boyfriend did not let me forget about coding. He encouraged me to check out a couple of schools, including one called Red Academy. I thought to myself, “you know what? It wouldn’t hurt to see what this school can share about coding”. I signed up for a tour of the school. I liked the look and energy, and I was intrigued by the idea of starting my coding journey there. Then, they dropped the cost of the school. It was just a couple grand under what I was making in an entire year. I said thank you very much, and I left. I was incredibly disappointed, and overwhelmed with sadness, because I knew there was no way to afford it.
Not wanting to give up on the idea of coding, I looked into ways to self-teach. I was able to learn basic HTML and CSS through Codecademy.com. It was an affordable way to keep myself in check, but I still felt like this wasn’t enough. I eventually started to talk to my friends and coworkers about coding to see if they had any experiences or advice they could share with me. To my luck, one of my coworkers told me they know someone who is a web developer, and that she will hook me up with them.
After connecting with my coworkers friend, we met up to talk about the possibility of a path into web development. We went for a two hour long walk where we talked about life, coding, and of course, this lead me right to Juno College. Being a Juno alumni, they were trying their best to be unbiased towards which schools I should look into. It didn’t matter if they had a bias or not. When they were telling me all about Juno, I couldn’t help but feel inspired, excited, and encouraged. The talk of its inclusive environment, the safe space that the school created, and the community that comes from it made me think, “Wow, I have to go to this school. This is it. This is where my future begins.” After spending my time with this incredibly kind, patient and helpful person, it was then I knew that coding was exactly what I wanted to do no matter what. I thank them all the time for their help, and I’m so lucky that my coworker connected me to this amazing individual. Without their encouragement and help, I wouldn’t be where I am today. (So again, thank you for everything.)
Almost a year later, after quickly (and unexpectedly) moving my way up from server to manager, I had saved enough money to attend the Part-Time Introduction to Web Development program in November of 2019. My instructor was phenomenal, the mentors were very helpful, and it was the start of meeting some great people, some I’m lucky enough to call friends! My family and friends around me noticed my devotion and determination to be successful in this program. They had never seen my drive to study as hard as I could, to learn more, and to do my best. Coding was all I could ever think about, and all I ever wanted to talk about. Of course, at my part-time job, my staff didn’t understand a word I said revolving around code, but they were supportive of me. They saw how important coding was to me, and to help out, they would deliberately cut my hours so I could go home early to study.
After completing the Intro to Web Dev program, I applied to Juno’s bootcamp. I was accepted into the program (cried from joy) and began to study some more in preparation. Now, I am starting my second week of bootcamp, fully online, and I’m incredibly excited for what the future holds. I know there will be struggles, but my time at bootcamp is something I will not take for granted. Even though our entire class is connected via Zoom classrooms and Slack, I have made some wonderful connections that I know will last a lifetime. Once bootcamp is complete, I hope I can one day meet my wonderful instructors and classmates. To think, I will officially be a web developer in a couple of months. All of this is thanks to my curiosity leading me to my passion, on that one fateful summer night, endlessly debugging at 3:45 AM. Moral of the story, if it’s something you don’t want to stop doing, don’t give up. Even if you lose your way, if it’s meant to be, it will find a way.