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 Jacinta Hayward, a 27-year-old Software Support Technician at a consumer healthcare platform in Perth, Australia. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here.
Why I chose to learn to code
“I used to work in the disability sector and was becoming burned out with it and thought, You know what, I need a bit of a career-change. The disabilities sector is amazing and I love the people in healthcare, but I just realized I needed to do something where I was using my skills to my best ability.
I’ve always been good with computers and loved video games, so I thought I might get into that a bit more. With Covid, I had this massive push to speed up the process of learning those new skills. I just told myself, If I don’t quit my job now, then I never will.
At the same time, my partner actually works in cybersecurity, and I saw that Codecademy had this 6-hour course on Introduction to Cybersecurity. I thought, That’d be really cool, even if I can just talk to him a little bit more about what he does and be able to ask him, ‘How was your day?’ Because I had no idea what any of it meant. So I took that course, and I got hooked. I also took a few other courses around command line, cloud computing, and cybersecurity.
Now I’m actually working in software support with the aim of hopefully getting into a more cybersecurity-based role in the next 12 months. But I understand that in the cybersecurity sector, you’ve got to be humble and go from a helpdesk or IT and software support role and then transition into cybersecurity.”
How I made time to learn
“I was very fortunate to be in a position where I could just take off a couple of months between jobs. I just really hit it hard, I suppose. I really like the way the courses are set up so that you can see the percentage of how much you’ve already completed, because I’m really picky about numbers. Even if I couldn’t do all of it in one day, I would try and just do 25% or 50%.
Some of the subjects, you can try and rush through them — but then you realize, if you’re rushing through them, you’re not actually learning anything. I would actually take my time. If there’s a link to an Article or something that was really interesting, I would actually click on it, because you absorb a lot more information that way.”
How I saved up enough money to switch careers
“I like to always have emergency funds, so that was a huge part of it. Because I had two years of hemming and hawing about wanting to make a career-change, I was able to save up that money in advance.
That was very helpful, because it also meant that when I was in that period of three months where it wasn’t working, I was actually like, Alright, I’m going to get a job in IT or in software support. If I had gone for longer and not had those savings, I could have ended up getting another healthcare job just to pay the bills. I was worried that I might end up getting comfortable and staying there.”
How long it took me to land a job
“I started learning with Codecademy in May 2021 and I quit my job in early 2022. It was three months of unemployment; and for the first two months, I was probably not looking that much. The third month, I probably applied to 15 different jobs. I know that sounds like a lot of companies, but I really wanted to get a job! I wasn’t doing anything else apart from my courses, so I just really applied myself to writing CVs and cover letters.”
How I got in the door
“I was trying to focus on companies relating to healthcare or the disability sector, because that’s what I know and what I’m still quite passionate about. But I just wanted to work in a more tech-related role within healthcare.”
How I nailed the interview
“I got interviews with two companies that I applied to: The first one was probably about 20 minutes long. They just looked at my resume and said, ‘Well, cybersecurity is highly in demand. You’ve also got experience around healthcare and the disability sector. You’re perfect for the role.’ They hired me very quickly, which was crazy, but cool.
The second company was a lot more intense. There were three different interviews, including a technical interview, values-based interview, and an interview with their CEO. They asked a lot of situational questions, and things like, How do you work with people?
But interestingly, the interview process was not actually as technical as I thought it would be. I thought I’d be asked about specific coding scenarios or IT troubleshooting, but it was a lot more about how you can find out things for yourself. Something that came up quite a bit is the ability to think on the spot, find your own answers, or ask other people for answers.
That surprised me, because thinking about coding or cybersecurity a couple of years ago, or even three or six months ago, I thought you had to be a genius and know everything.”
How I evaluated the offers
“The second company I interviewed with was a lot larger — they have 5 million users in Australia — and had a lot more opportunities to move around within the company. They’re really passionate about supporting and encouraging women in cybersecurity and programming as well, and they do a lot of internal hiring. They’ve also got training programs and events, like capture-the-flag events, which is ethical hacking.”
How day one & beyond went
“I start in two weeks and I’m so excited!”
What I wish I knew before I started learning
“Don’t get put off by the idea that you have to be an expert at one particular language or you have to know everything. I don’t think anyone who’s a programmer or in cybersecurity knows everything — absolutely not. Find projects that you’re passionate about, or that you actually see as useful, rather than picking up a language purely for the sake of learning it.
And don’t fall for the idea that you need to do big boot camps or 3-year degrees — Codecademy has some really good content that can help you get a job.”
Learn like Jacinta
See the courses and languages that helped her most.
- Introduction to Cybersecurity
- Fundamentals of Cybersecurity
- Cybersecurity for Business
- Learn the Command Line
- Introduction to Linux
- Foundations of Cloud Computing
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.