How I Went From Stay-at-Home Mom to Self-Taught Data Scientist in 2 Years


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 Mary White, a Development Coordinator at the Baltimore Museum of Industry living in Baltimore, Maryland. Read more stories from Codecademy learners here — and be sure to share your story here.

Why I chose to learn to code

“My wife started working remotely due to Covid, so I had a little more free time than I was used to, and I wanted to start something new. I picked Codecademy and started out with JavaScript.

I told a friend of mine, who is a data scientist: ‘I love how it’s got numbers but also language.’ I’m a linguist; I speak mostly English and Spanish, but also several other languages. My friend said, ‘You know, if you like numbers and languages, you should try data science.’ So I started the Data Science Foundations skill path and fell in love.

I really loved all the immersive projects from Codecademy. I would sit down and take a week — or a month even — and make them my own. It was so much fun! Once I finished my data science courses, I tried C++, I finished up JavaScript, and I did the Analyze Financial Data with Python skill path. I tried out everything, and it was a blast.

Then we decided we wanted to buy a house, and I thought, Well, if we’re gonna do that, I’m going to need to get a job. So I put all of this on my portfolio and on my resume and started applying.”

How I made time to learn

“I set it up as if it were a part-time job. My wife’s job is fairly flexible: When Covid started, she was home and could watch our kid, so I could dedicate about 4 to 6 hours a day to learning on Codecademy.”

How I saved up enough money to take the leap

“I was a stay-at-home mom, and my wife was working from home due to the pandemic, so nothing really changed financially.”

How I got in the door

“I found the job listing on LinkedIn and did the auto-apply thing. I had done the same with about 20 other jobs that day. And then the assistant director called! I read everything I could about the organization to prepare.

I got an interview, and as soon as I got off the elevator, one of the other data people ran out holding a 20-page printout of my OkCupid portfolio project*, waving it around saying, ‘I’m so excited to meet you! I want to talk about this!’ It was amazing. We talked about my project, and I got the job a couple weeks later.”

*This is a portfolio project that Mary completed in the Data Scientist path. Check out how other Codecademy learners completed the same project in our forum here.  

How I nailed the interview

“I didn’t have to do any technical interviews, because the position wasn’t so much about software development. I think I was a little bit overqualified, but I was ready. All my other skills — I have an extensive copy-editing and writing background — are great for grant-writing and working with donors and institutions. The data definitely helps. I now manage the database on behalf of my administration.”

How I evaluated the offer

“I had been a stay-at-home mom for 3.5 years at that point, and getting jobs was really hard with that gap in my resume. As soon as I got something — especially after I had looked up this organization, visited the museum, and seen how enthusiastic they were about me — I took it right away. I was just so excited to get something.”

How day one & beyond went

“Day one was fine — mostly just meeting people and watching the onboarding videos. After about 1 to 2 weeks, I was just sort of thrown into the fire. I came in and everything was in a set of Excel spreadsheets in Google Drive. Since then, I put about 90% of these spreadsheets into the relational database. It was a lot of learning on the job. Taking my knowledge from Codecademy, plus being organized and comfortable with technology, has been immensely helpful.

What I wish I knew before I started learning

“I wish I knew how easy it was to learn to code. I feel like it was just like going back to school and doing Intro to Algebra again. If I’d known it was that easy, I probably would have approached it much sooner. I always thought it was this complex thing, and that you had to know everything to code — and you really don’t. It’s very accessible. The online community for coding is incredibly rich and amazing.”

Learn like Mary.

See the courses and languages that helped her 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.

Data Science Courses & Tutorials | Codecademy
Data Scientists try to make sense of the data that’s all around us. Learning Data Science can help you make informed decisions, create beautiful visualizations, and even try to predict future events through Machine Learning. If you’re curious about what you can learn about the world using the data p…

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