In October 2018 I started attending Epicodus, a code school in Portland OR. Taking the leap to learn how to code full-time was one of the most pivotal decisions I have ever made. I am extremely grateful that I made that decision. I am now working for a company that aims to make transit more efficient with mobile fares, an effort I care about deeply, and also prioritizes my professional growth. I want to share a little about my past and why I decided to make a shift into tech, as well as some things I have learned along the way.
My interest in coding began during my last year of undergraduate studies. I have a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Geospatial Studies, where I focused on mapping environmental injustice. My senior capstone was an interactive map of aerial images of prisons and an essay about the environmental issues around prison sitings. I used Odyssey.js and CARTO, then CartoDB, to create the map. This was my first introduction to using an API to load map tiles, and CSS to style layers.
After completing my degree, I interned at Metro, a regional government with offices in Portland, as a GIS (Geographic Information Science) intern in their transportation planning department. There, I made maps using Mapbox, and first learned about D3. Through my experiences, I could see that there were many opportunities to create wide-reaching visualizations with code. After this internship, I took some time to work in the service industry and decide what I wanted to do with my career. These small introductions to web development remained with me during my , and I decided to take the leap and enroll in code school.
Learning how to code was by far the most challenging thing I have ever done. Although I admire self-taught programmers and those that can balance education with work or taking care of dependents, I find that, for myself, I need to be fully immersed in something to be successful. This is why I decided to go to school full time.
I was able to go to school full time because I received a scholarship from Tech Rise, a program through Worksource Portland Metro that aims to increase racial and gender diversity in the tech industry. During the time of receiving this scholarship, I was working in the service industry and had accrued student debt from my undergraduate studies. I was not financially equipt to take on more debt, and the scholarship enabled me to avoid taking out more student loans. I am extremely grateful for what this scholarship has given me and scholarships like this deserve more support.
Though I am a woman entering a male-dominated industry, I want to recognize that I have privileges that have helped me make such a swift transition into tech. I am a cis straight able-bodied white female with some economic privilege. I do not have any dependents, I have a steady living situation, a supporting partner and family. If I was not afforded any mix of these privileges, entering tech would have been a lot more difficult for me.
Lastly, these are in no way revelatory or may work for everyone; they are just some things I found helped me.
My first year of writing code was one of the hardest and most transformative years of my life. In year two I am continuing to attend some meetups (twice a month) and would like to volunteer with other community-minded coding organizations like Code For PDX. I would also like to volunteer with I am taking more time for exercise and my personal health by exercising more.