From Retail to Front End

How and why did you get started with coding? I started coding at first because I was interested in what my husband did for a living. He showed me a few sites where I could learn more about programming and broaden my career opportunities. I started using Codecademy. It was fascinating how easy it became to build something using code. It also made me see that most people didn’t even know what coding was unless they had to learn it when they attended college.

What were your goals when starting to code and how did you keep motivated? At the time I started using Codecademy I was working in the retail sector so there was no time for family. My weekends were never my own and I would be off when everyone else was working and when my son had to attend school. My motivation was wanting to be there for my family. When I started a section in Codecademy, I would study and do the exercises before and after work, even during my lunch breaks to finish the course so that I could move out of retail and do something I found interesting and fun.

What was the most challenging part of learning how to code, and how did you rise above those challenges? The most challenging part was understanding the concepts. When I started learning, everything had to have a reason as to why it needs to look a certain way or why would it do something. I needed to let go of some of the ways I was accustomed to, to learn and see the bigger picture.

How did you start creating your own projects? I started creating my own projects when I went for my first programming interview. I had an internship where I was able to help build projects for others. I worked on projects such as That Art Fair, Shanduka Foundation, Kagiso Shanduka Trust, and IYO Media.

What advice would you have for folks who are just starting out or thinking of getting started? Finish what you start. You cannot go into coding if you do not plan on using it all the time. Anyone can start coding and anyone can be great at it if they stick to it and make it fun. Only you can see what it is you want to do with what you learn. Starting out can also be confusing and seem difficult but don’t give up, keep at it and you will start understanding concepts that move you forward. Coding is a unique talent that anyone can learn—so take the opportunity to learn it.

How did you get to where you are now? What did you do after Codecademy? I finished some Codecademy courses and went for an interview at a company in Cape Town, where I started an internship and began gaining some experience in web development. At that internship, I helped build four websites. We moved to Johannesburg and I got an offer at a great company where we build a little bit of everything. I’m currently a Front End Developer at Mann Made Media, and up until today I still use Codecademy to learn different coding languages that I don’t know.

Which steps would you recommend for folks who want to find jobs after Codecademy? Look for an internship where you can start gaining experience. Any company will take you as long as you have something to show for your learning. Many companies don’t know that you can learn to code on the internet. My current company was impressed that I got as far as I have while working a full time job and learning at the same time. I am living proof that it is possible.

As for the ladies out there, this career is for you too. I was a single mom at the time when I started learning. Take on something different and something challenging and jump at this wonderful learning opportunity that is free for you to explore. Codecademy has helped me learn everything I needed to, to move forward in my career. This learning has helped me overcome challenges in my life and taught me never to give up if something doesn’t work. Find your motivation to do something challenging and different.