As a child, I was fascinated by technology. I vividly remember our first PC at home, its black and blue screens, and the F1 game you could run from a floppy disc. But as much as I loved technology, the lack of female role models in IT made me hesitant to pursue it as a career.
All of my classmates who went on to study IT were guys, and at my dad’s work, I had never seen a woman developer. So, when choosing a university degree, IT was too intimidating, and I decided to study languages and economics instead.
Fast forward a few years, and I found myself working at GetYourGuide, closer to the tech world than I ever imagined I could be. I made engineering friends, saw women engineers, and even met women who had no background in engineering but had carved out an engineering career without a degree. The tech world felt a bit closer and more attainable.
The little voice that was there when I was a kid and a teenager returned and kept getting stronger. It kept asking, "I think you might want to try this for real. Why not?"
I decided to listen to that voice, and I am currently enrolled in a part-time coding boot camp to become a software developer. I wanted to share my journey and some humble learnings I would give anyone thinking about following this path too.
One of my first steps was connecting with many tech people who have made the change to engineering themselves, long-term engineers & engineering managers, and asking them for advice. Guess what? They all offered amazing guidance and often were also eager to help me. This made me understand that mentoring & giving back to the community is hugely important in tech, making the transition much easier.
Decisions to change a career are not made from one day to the other, and preparing yourself months ahead will help you. I highly recommend communicating your wants with your manager and people around you who can help. If you are lucky (which I was), you will find people supporting your journey along the way.
Financing a bootcamp is a big financial decision, but thankfully, financial support options might be available for you. In my case, GetYourGuide has a very generous learning budget which I took advantage of and partly funded the bootcamp with. Many countries have alternative funding options or vocational leaves to offer, so research what is available to you.
Before I took the plunge, I wanted to make sure that I would enjoy coding, so I took several online courses which gave me an opportunity to understand the learning process & made me feel more ready.
It took me a very long time to decide that I will do this, about 2 years in total. It was not always an easy journey, and there were moments when I was full of doubt, but what was amazing, is that once I fully made the decision and paid for my course, it felt amazing! I was 100% sure it was exactly the next step I should take. If you are a person for whom making big life decisions is difficult, just know that the commitment will feel amazing.
Lean into not knowing. In my bootcamp class, we are all pretty senior in our existing careers. Now, we must get used to being newbies and sometimes feeling like we do not know anything. That is scary, but also exhilarating. You are a kid again who asks questions literally all the time and you completely accept you do not know.
Remember that even the smartest people must learn things and start from scratch. Believe me, you will feel absolutely amazed at what you can learn in a short amount of time, and every week, it will feel like you are doubling your skills.
I heard from many about how challenging taking a bootcamp is. And I can already confirm – it is incredibly hard. The sheer amount of time you will need to spend learning is challenging. I am completing 12 hours of course-work weekly, but most of the time when I am not working, I am studying and practicing coding. You have to be ready to say no to a lot of other things like fun evenings with friends and colleagues at times (and your weekends) for a long while.
This of course can take a toll on you, so double-down on what makes you happy: I do a lot of yoga, I take breaks, and I am brutal about me-time when my battery is running low. I also make sure to connect with my cohort and build relationships with people who are going through the same experience.
Everything's better when you are having fun, and actually, science supports that too. If you are having fun learning and you feel excited about what you are doing, you will be unbeatable. You will enjoy your process much more and remember things better too. So find the problems you love to break down, click with people who are on the same wavelength, and just remember to be allowed to be happy for yourself!
Pursuing a career in tech may seem intimidating, but with preparation, role models, and a positive attitude, it's an attainable goal. The journey may be tough, but the reward is worth it. And if you're like me and have been hesitant to pursue a career in tech, I encourage you to take that first step and see where it takes you. Who knows, you might just surprise yourself.