How I Went From Working In Accounting To Becoming A React & Native Developer


Learning to code so that you can land a job in tech can feel daunting. That’s why we’re sharing inspiring stories from Codecademy’s community — to show how people like you (yes, you!) can embark on a learning journey and end up with a totally new career. We hope these stories serve as a reminder that there’s no single path to a more fulfilling work life.

Today’s story is from Doug Henderson, a 31-year-old React and Native Developer on contract at Reelay living in Asheville, NC. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here.

Why I chose to learn to code

“I wanted to solve problems, and I thought there would always be problems to solve in accounting. But it was just a lot of putting the numbers where they need to go, and it’s solved for you. I realized that I wanted to build stuff — like Legos. And then I started learning to code on my own, and it skyrocketed from there. I started with JavaScript because I did some research into hiring patterns and saw that JavaScript, Ruby, and Python were in the top three in-demand languages. So I dabbled in all three initially, but JavaScript spoke to me the loudest.”

How I made time to learn

“I had a Google calendar that I set up for myself and developed a pattern immediately where I would check my email every morning then go into the calendar to see what’s going on. I knew during my lunch breaks I could do 20 or 30 minutes; and sometimes I could learn before I left for work, if I had time. Also Codecademy had just updated their app, so I’d utilize that as well, and then I’d come home and really dig into projects. I did about 2 to 4 hours a day between Codecademy and YouTube videos. I think discipline and commitment are almost more important than motivation. If you have both, then it’s smooth sailing.”

How I saved up enough money to switch careers

“At one point, I did leave my job to study more because I was nearing the end. My partner — we’ve been together for about 5 years — was really the backbone. So she was the breadwinner, and also the ref and coach making sure I was motivated.”

How long it took me to land a job

“One year from when I started learning.”

How I got in the door

“A lot of data structures and algorithms practice. A lot of remembering how React component life cycles work. I really knew the fundamentals and went in completely honest that I’d never done this professionally before, but that I needed someone to give me a shot.”

How I nailed the interview

“The interview  process was really good. It was only three stages: one was the behavioral, the second was the technical, and the third was a one-on-one with the CEO. The team is super small, so it was really fun. It was a really great culture fit. I couldn’t actually solve the problem during the interview; I would have had to Google it. But I knew exactly where the problem was, and I was very transparent and told the CTO, ‘Hey, I know this isn’t working because this is here and this is wrong. Without Googling it, I can’t fix it, but I’m sure if I Googled it, I could fix it in 5 minutes.’ So then I walked through why it was wrong, what the behavior was, and what the behavior should be.”

How I evaluated the offer

“A big part of that for me was whether it was fully remote or not — and it was. That was a huge checkmark on the box! The second one was the culture, so getting to know the team and the company, and talking to them. The third thing was the actual product; the app is like if TikTok meets Rotten Tomatoes. I wanted something I’d be interested in, and I found that very interesting. And I love mobile development! Some of the other interviews were for front-end or back-end, but I really wanted mobile development.”

How day one & beyond went

“It was great. I spent a lot of time pair programming with the CTO at the time. We went through the roadmap and the bug report library. The first day was really getting your feet in and looking at the codebase.”

What I wish I knew before I started learning

“I wish I’d known how important data structures and algorithms are. You could build an entire full-stack project right now that is a complete clone of Facebook and have 10,000 users on it, but nobody really cares if you can’t reverse a linked list or invert a binary tree.*”

*Don’t know what that means? Don’t sweat it! This is something you’ll learn in our Linear Data Structures and Complex Data Structures courses.

Learn like Doug

See the courses and languages that helped them most.

Not sure where to start? Check out our personality quiz! We’ll help you find the best programming language to learn based on your strengths and interests.

Want to share your Codecademy learner story? Drop us a line here. And don’t forget to join the discussions in our community.

JavaScript Courses & Tutorials | Codecademy
JavaScript is a fun and flexible programming language. It’s one of the core technologies of web development and can be used on both the front-end and the back-end.

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