How 3 Women Made The Career Jump To Coding

by Erin Kelly

Have you ever considered a career change?

I’m not talking about the occasional daydream that you’ve won the lottery and relocated to a remote village in France during a particularly rough day at work. I’m talking about that gut feeling you have when you know your current position isn’t the right fit, or that overwhelming sense of curiosity when it comes to exploring a new opportunity. If you’ve lost sleep over a pro-con list that teeters between staying with what’s familiar and investigating the unknown, know that you aren’t alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee holds more than 11 different jobs in his or her lifetime — and this number is only expected to grow.

While people change careers for all types of personal and professional reasons, some of the biggest factors include the opportunity for higher pay, better work-life balance, and more interesting and challenging work. And it’s hard to ignore that a job in coding could grant you all of these perks, plus so many more. Add to that the fact that there's currently a high demand for programmers, and it only reinforces the career path as a desirable option.

Have we gotten you sufficiently curious about the benefits of working in programming? We partnered with Dice, your go-to resource for discovering opportunities, insights and connections in technology, to talk to three women who made the career jump to coding so you can learn more about whether the option is right for you.

Tam Dang, Car-Dealership-Rep-Turned-Software-Engineer

Tam Dang

Tam Dang was working as a cashier at a New Jersey car dealership when a friend encouraged her to join him in an online coding class. A natural lover of problem solving, Dang was hooked right away. After researching more coding education opportunities, she stumbled across a 12-week program called Dev Bootcamp in Chicago that promised its students would graduate with enough programming skills to land an entry-level job. She took the leap and moved to Chicago, landing her first software engineering gig just one month after graduation.

That was in 2014. Now, three years later, Dang is a software engineer for a company that acts as an online marketplace for musicians.

“The most difficult thing about switching careers is beating your own self-doubt,” Dang says. “It’s very easy to think, 'I have no idea how to do X and no idea where to start, and I’m already X years old! I’ll never catch up!' But that is just a thought, and it’s not the truth.”

Dang believes the opportunities that come with the ability to code far outweigh the risks that come with making a scary career change, and she encourages others who are curious about coding to make the jump.

“My one piece of advice for those seeking a life change is this: You will never truly be ready, and you will never be 100 percent sure of the next step — so start now, don’t stop, and keep learning along the way.”

Carolyn Yates, Physical Therapist And Bootcamp Student In-Training

Carolyn Yates

As a practicing physical therapist, Carolyn Yates has always enjoyed helping people overcome injuries and achieve their personal goals. But at some point, she started to feel that her career was tying her down to one location. This ultimately gave her an itch to travel and find more flexibility in her professional life. That, combined with an overwhelming desire to be a part of the women in tech movement, eventually led Yates to embrace the challenge of learning how to code — a skill she had always be interested in but never fully explored.

After applying for and being granted(!) a scholarship with the Flatiron School, Yates enrolled in an online full-stack web development program. While she admits computer science (and most technology in general) was foreign to her at the time, she embraced the challenge of learning something new.

“Knowing how to code and having a web development skill set is going to open so many new and interesting doors for me,” she says. “I hope that I will be able to make a difference in the physical therapy and medical world someday by having both the knowledge of what being a physical therapist entails and also having these new tech abilities.”

Her advice to those thinking about exploring a career in coding? Don’t get caught up in the fear of failure.

“The advice I’ve received is that everyone struggles with learning how to code, but the challenge will only make you better [at it],” she says. “... I know without a doubt that having web development skills will only enhance whatever avenue I pursue in my future.”

Amy Simmons, Twitter Software Engineer

Amy Simmons

Amy Simmons's first career was as a journalist, covering national and international news for six years. Yet she felt her storytelling options — especially when it came to data — were limited to basic tables and charts. She knew that coding could open up a whole world of creative possibilities when it came to presenting information, so she started learning in her spare time.

After a weekend coding workshop left her feeling empowered, Simmons made the decision to take three months off from her day job to enroll in a full-time coding boot camp — an experience she calls, “the best 12 weeks of her life.”

“I was coding almost 24 hours a day, running on no sleep, but loving every minute of it,” she explains. “That’s when I made the decision to change careers.”

Today, Simmons is a software engineer at Twitter, where she thrives in the rapidly changing culture of the tech industry and feeds off the satisfaction of bringing ideas to life through code. Although starting from the bottom wasn’t an easy task, she encourages those who are interested in coding to give it a try, despite any reservations.

“People think that you need to be good at maths, or that you need to be one of the smartest kids in class to learn to code,” she says. “This just isn’t true. What you need is passion and perseverance.”

Curious About Coding?

From these stories alone, it's clear that bootcamps can be a great way to break into the coding world. Although some people are savvy (and regimented!) enough to learn how to code on their own, a bootcamp can provide you with the resources and structure required to learn valuable programming skills. If you're interested in exploring these challenging, rigorous, and often expensive bootcamps, make sure you do your research before committing to a program.

This post is sponsored by Dice.