About 6 months ago, I decided to pursue an education in Software Engineering. It had been several years since I had really challenged myself, and I was beginning to feel stagnant and unsatisfied. I had always loved being in school. After receiving my bachelor’s degree and a little bit of income, I couldn’t justify taking the time or money to continue my education.
I dove headfirst into my first social work job. And then my second. And then my third. The emotional stress and unfavorable working environment coupled with the insufficient pay shattered my social life. I had always known that burnout was a very real part of the job, but thought since I was young and inspired, I would be immune to it. Not the case. The last job I had placed me as a live in mentor with a family for 2 years. Although I had some positive experiences and saw a lot of progress with the family, the lack of boundaries absolutely destroyed me. At times I felt unsafe and isolated. I began expressing my concerns and frustrations to the family, but they went ignored. I was told that I was simply backing away from a challenge.
Then an incident occurred that completely devastated my sense of security and privacy. I left immediately. I vowed to never work in social work again. Although I love people and doing social good, I knew the field was no longer for me. I got a job working at a brewery and spent the next few years making up for lost time. My relationships with my partner and family and friends once again thrived. I embraced being in my 20s, something I hadn’t really done since college. I was once again feeling passionate and fulfilled. I found love in travel, fitness, books and the outdoors. I embraced living in a bigger city, something I had never done before. I reestablished a social circle and surrendered to exploration. I had found myself again.
Eventually, I needed more. I was craving a more demanding and challenging life. I missed learning and applying myself. I took a lot of time to soul search and discover my strengths, weaknesses, and skills. I have a lot of friends who had pursued software engineering and were really grateful for the opportunities that followed. My friend Anna, who had been working for Flatiron School at the time, had encouraged me to spend time on campus and review the coursework. I attended several free introductory classes at schools around the city. I watched Youtube videos and did Codecademy courses. I read books and articles. I really hadn’t considered the outcome, yet continued to work on coding during my free time. I figured it would be like any other number of topics I had explored, yet I kept coming back to it. I was drawn to coding in ways I never thought possible. I knew I liked logic and problem solving, both of which are very prevalent, but didn’t realize there was a creative component about it that I really loved. The next thing I knew, I had been accepted into Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program.
I’ll be honest, I have a long way to go with coding. I feel confused and overwhelmed the majority of the time. It does not come naturally to me. But I keep trying, and I love that I keep trying. I love seeing the progress that I have made. I love that I’m starting to understand how things work, and I can build things. I feel giddy about the endless possibilities available to me after this program. The tech community in Denver has been welcoming, inspiring and inclusive. I can’t wait to take my past experiences and new found skills to create impactful, positive contributions to my community. This is my “why”.