One Year to Dev

How and why did you get started with coding?

I got my degree in Finance and although I started off in accounting, I kept seeking out more and more technical roles thought my career. After moving to the bay area 2 years ago, landing a job at a startup and being immersed in tech, I started realizing how passionate I was and how much I wanted to be a part of it. Then a year ago, I decided to do a complete career change and see if I could get hired as an engineer at my company.

What were your goals when starting to code and how did you keep motivated?

My big goal when I started learning was to be able to pass a coding interview and get hired on as a full time engineer within my company. I think what kept me motivated was setting a deadline (I gave myself a year) and having accountability. I set up a github repo with coding problems I was working on and would tag friends and coworkers in engineering to review.

What was the most challenging part of learning how to code, and how did you rise above those challenges?

For me, the most challenging part was learning to being comfortable with how things start to click over time and not right away. The analogy I use is that it’s like learning to fix a car. You don’t start by buying a physics textbook and diving into combustion theory. You’d learn what some of the parts are called and how they generally work and start getting your hands dirty without even popping the hood. Before getting into programming, I’d been used to picking up new things quickly and it was a struggle to be patient while the concepts came together over time.

Which resources would you recommend to folks just starting out?

It depends on your learning style but I found a combination of books, online tutorials and in-person classroom training worked best for me. Besides Codecademy, these were some of the most helpful for me:

Programming Ruby, Rosetta Code, Codewars Ruby, Cracking the Coding Interview, and Guide to Ruby.

What advice would you have for folks who are just starting out or thinking of getting started?

My advice would be to be patient, know that this stuff is really challenging but it’s absolutely do-able if you’re motivated and there are so many great resources and people dedicated to helping people learn to code. It’s a really great time to do it.

How did you get to where you are now? What did you do after Codecademy?

Currently I’m a software engineer at Airbnb. I got here by setting a very clear goal, talking to a lot of people about what I needed to do to accomplish it, and working extremely hard. I actually still use Codecademy pretty regularly for examples of things I run into while working on projects and to pick up the basics of a new language. It’s really great at getting you up to speed quickly.

Which steps would you recommend for folks who want to find jobs after Codecademy?

A lot of companies are still hesitant about hiring people without a traditional CS degrees, so a good piece of advice someone gave me was to build a case for yourself to show why you’re qualified. Have some some personal projects on your resume and use things like internships and temp work to get in the door. Also, I was initially turned down when I pitched the idea of transferring, so don’t be afraid to apply repeatedly and for lots of positions.

What would you say to women who may not think they can get started in coding?

Imposter syndrome is amplified for women in STEM fields because they are a minority. I think a hurdle of anyone learning something new is the intimidation a large and ambiguous goal like “learning programming”.

What helped me was breaking things down into smaller goals; get through this problem set, build a really simple web app, read this book. I am also lucky to have a large group of female friends who are engineers and that support network was crucial. Get involved in the community, go to the meetups and surround yourself with people who can give you the support you need to stay confident and motivated.

Watch Kari’s video on how she got to where she is today.

How I Went From Finance to Engineering in a Year