Middle school teacher to software engineer/consultant

Why did I quite teaching to purpose

a career in web-development?

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I started my career as a middle school teacher.

It was fulfilling a fulfilling three years trying to create bilingual and compassionate
global citizens.
One day as I watched the copy machine mechanically eject grammar worksheets, the soothing sound of scanned paper entranced
me to note these perfect paper stacks are a metaphor for the monotony of my life.
I knew in that moment I needed to make a change.
Fortunately, I was wrapping up a Masters in English and took a writing faculty position for Missouri State University,
which turned out to be in China.

So I moved to china

And hated it

It was a miserable first month and that had nothing to do with the language barrier, smog filled streets, oily food, and the fact the closest beach was in North Korea.

 

The issue was I never had to figure out what I wanted my life’s work to be.
Suddenly my attitude of “I’ll just do this job for now” finally caught up to me.

Back home there were always distractions keeping me from addressing this question and now there was nothing – except the overwhelming feeling of purposelessness.

 

Despite the melodrama I knew this opportunity was special in that I had no distractions and could focus entirely on my next move.

During my pity party I sought resolution by interviewing my friends who seemed content
with their careers.

 

One of them suggested coding…

人山人海 ren shan ren hai (People Mountain People Sea)

a chinese proverb referring to the huge population
and how I felt about my current predicament.


I started studying coding tutorials online and loved it.

I adored the critical-thinking, logic and multiple ways to solve a problem. I began soaking up content and getting badges like a boy scout with too much time on his hands.

Tutorials are cute, but to truly career change I would need to sacrifice more to make it in programming. I figured few employers would hire someone without experience and no formal educational background. Therefore, I needed something to prove I was willing do whatever necessary to excel and so they would trust me enough for an internship.

How could I convince an employer to risk an internship on a self-taught coder?


Should I go back and get a computer science degree?
Sounded like overkill and that employers cared less about where you went to school and more about what you could do.
Should I attend a coding bootcamp?
I went as far as interviewing for one ($10,000K) but once I saw their curriculum, I realized I had already taught myself the front-end content. I reasoned keeping up with technology is an on-going process hence I should get used to teaching myself and not having a “school” environment readily available.
Is teaching yourself really a good idea?
Once I accepted I would refrain from attending a bootcamp. I contacted all my friends in the industry and got their advice on what content to learn. The back-end content would be most difficult but I relied on my network whenever I ran into questions. I would contact them whenever questions came up and make sure to switch often so no one felt exploited 😉

Was I ready to take the leap?