Kate Preston

Why This, Why Now?

Thursday, January 24 2018

A year ago my day job involved listening to other people talk about all the reasons their current job was unsatisfying and why retraining as a software developer was the right move for them. For some people it was about job security, others wanted a job with more of a challenge, or more flexibility, or more money.

I would have this conversation five times a day and it was never dull. I enjoyed hearing people’s backstories, how the events of their lives led to this point, facing me, hoping to gain a place on the course I was interviewing them for. My job was to project forward: how will this person cope with the intensity of the course? What support might they need to find a job afterwards? Can we help them find a fulfilling career, that gives them something their experiences so far haven’t?

It doesn’t take many days of asking others whether they’re satisfied with their careers to turn that reflection on yourself. I enjoyed my job: the people were nice, the work was varied, and I was fairly autonomous. But, it didn’t have a clear trajectory. I found it difficult to imagine where it might lead me in 10, 5 or even 2 years and some of the things I was hearing in that interview room started to resonate.

Myspace pretty much passed me by (although I’m not sure why, I was a teenager at the right time, and I was certainly emo enough…). The thrill of having what was essentially a tamagotchi(!) but on the internet(!!), however, was too much for me to ignore so I did have a neopets account. I remember taking notes on HTML from their handy guide, presumably in gel pens of various pastel shades, and spending hours getting my page just so.

Since then, I have dabbled on and off with programming: a Udacity course here, a blog theme there. I’ve always sought out the most technical elements of decidedly un-technical jobs, weasiling my way into web admin roles, or taking on challenges that involved a little bit of scripting. About two years ago I also started spending large swathes of time learning how to program. I love both the big picture, design problems that development poses as well as the nitty, gritty, bang your head against the wall, oh god it was a typo all along problems.

But, I have lots of hobbies. I knit but I don’t want to create textiles full time. I cook but I don’t want to be a chef. Although if there’s a job out there where I can pursue my hobby of napping full time then I’m there. The reason I want to pursue software development is because of the sheer range of problems it gives me the potential to solve, or at least help solve. I’m passionate about a lot of things, and becoming a developer hopefully means that I will have a skillset that I can apply to any and all of these issues.

As for the “why now” I’m going to be incredibly cliched and say, I had a baby. Maternity leave has given me a lot of time with my own thoughts, often at 2 in the morning. I want a career with more options, that doesn’t involve endless sidestepping into roles that don’t offer much in the way of developing my existing skillset. I’ve been lucky to love each job I’ve had individually, but I’m ready to start loving my career. And, most importantly, I want a career that justifies leaving my daughter in the care of others every day.

So, on the Monday I’m returning to CodeClan after 9 months of maternity leave but this time as a student of Cohort 19.