A JOURNEY FROM STAY-AT-HOME MUM TO FRONT-END DEVELOPER

ONE YEAR AGO I WATCHED MY VERY FIRST VIDEO ABOUT HTML AND STARTED A LONG WAY TO BECOMING FRONT-END DEVELOPER.

A few days ago I came across a story on freeCodeCamp about a woman who started from being a stay-at-home mum and after 2 years she got her first web developer job. Her story looked so much like mine, so I got inspired into writing my own story.

I was thinking about writing this blog for quite a long time, but was not sure if somebody would find it useful. But after the above mentioned post I realised that actually there are SO many women like me, who stay home with kids and study coding by themselves when they have time for that.

My background

I have never dreamed of being a developer or have not seen myself creating games rather than playing them. I was passionate about foreign languages, sport or crafting. From 5th grade I realized I tend to humanitarian subjects rather than scientific. I studied languages and history with a large interest at school. I graduated from Linguistic University and was working as a translator for about 10 years afterwards. Then I moved to another city, got pregnant and quit my job after a year of working remotely. 

Introduction into “another world”

When my daughter started at kindergarten, I decided it is time to get back to the job market.  But I was not happy anymore with the job I was doing before. So my husband, who was and is a developer nowadays, advised me to try to learn how to code. I always thought you should be passionate about coding from the day of your birth and have technical mind in order to be a developer. I was scared and hesitated, but since I had nothing else to do and I love to learn new things, I decided to give it a try. I started to study at IT Academy on weekends and I graduated from it after 2 years.  I must say that I really enjoyed my studies there. I realized there is nothing superficial about coding and if you study and practice, you can do it. During my first study year I learned the basics of C, C++ and C# languages, as well as HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  During my second year of study we went deeply into C# language and other Microsoft technologies like ASP.net, XML, as well as a basic overview of Azure and Java. 

First attempt to be a developer

By the end of my study at IT Academy I was already involved in a few projects. First was an online game Battleship (2 players have a fleet of ships and battle with each other), it was written in C# using MVC model and i was helping one of my classmates with that. Another one was ship stowing and planning software and i was working with ASP.Net Web Forms there.  

Even though I did code pretty good, I didn’t feel myself like a developer. The fear of transition still was there and my coding attempts were half-hearted. But after I got my first money for coding, I realized that I actually can do something good. That was my very big mistake. 

Instead of continue coding for some small projects and getting into developers commnúnity (there was a huge .Net community with lots of meet-ups), I went for a few job interviews and got rejected. One of them was for a student position and it dropped my confidence level in coding to almost zero. Projects I was involved in were over and I never looked for a new ones. My coding career seemed to be over.  

Second attempt to be a developer

About a year after our family moved to another country and I got pretty busy with settlement in a new environment and learning a new language. I studied 1.5 years in language school and got my certification. I got job as office manager assistant in an IT company and I was pretty happy with that job because I was glad to be back on track. Than i got pregnant and left job for maternity leave. When my son was 1 year old, the thought of coding came to me again. The thoughts I had seven years earlier never went away. I could start to look for part-time work or office work, or to finally pursue a job in tech. 

 I started to have some free time, especially when walking with a trolley outside, so I was listening to different podcasts and wondering what to do next. Because I had some coding background, I decided to try for frontend this time. 

Coursera.org

I found a wonderful course – Web Development specification at coursera.org and started to study. It was not very easy, because the only time when I could study is when the baby was sleeping. It was mostly evenings, but I have managed to finish the whole Web Developer specialization and got certificates. I also did a few profile pages and one website on WordPress which I also learned afterwards. 

Khan Academy

Here I found some interesting courses which can be finished quite fast, so i did finished some of them as :

Coding with children

Finding time to study and code when you have children is the biggest challenge I have ever had.  You cannot just “quit” being a parent and have time all to yourself. You have to think and plan and find time in between taking care of kids. 

When my son was little and I stayed at home with him, my usual day looked like this:

6.00 am – wake up

6.00 – 9.00 – breakfast, play time

9.00 – 11.00 – walking outside with a trolley/ playground

12.00 – 15.00 – sleep (this is the time I have for myself or I could sleep as well if the night was awful)

15.00 – 20.00 – time with kids/ dinner/ walking outside etc.

20.00 – 22.00 – study

When my son went to kindergarten, my usual day looks different:

6.00 – 9.00 – breakfast/ road to school-kindergarten

10.00 – 12.00 – study

12.00 – 13.00 – lunch/going for a walk

13.00 – 15.00 – study

15.00 – 22.00 – house work/ time with family

This is the general plan which I try to keep up but keeping in mind interruptions to it. Children get sick and have to stay at home, they also have school and kindergarten vacations, plus there are some home errands which you have to do and fitness club you have to attend – this all alter the study routine and one has to be prepared for that and not be too stressed out.

Conclusion

I have been learning and coding for quite some time now and I can surely say that anyone can learn how to code. All you need is desire, routine and  devotion to the process. It doesn’t matter if you’re having kids or you want a career change or you want to try something different – you CAN learn how to code. The most difficult thing here is to keep yourself motivated. Having little kids is very difficult work and there are days when you feel tired and exhausted and all what you want is to sleep. There are days when you want to stop learning, and just be a parent. BUT – there are also days when you feel like you can do it! And you do it and it works and you are super happy and excited about your new career change. 

Here are some tips which I found useful for myself during my coding journey:

  • Flexibility – being flexible and switching between things quickly is one of the most important qualities you must have (or learn) if you have kids. It helps to overcome irritations from interruptions into your plan.
  •  Devotion – you need to find time to learn every day, make it your constant process as much as possible (even 20 minutes is better than nothing). But don’t wear yourself out! Use some time off from study by having a nice walk with kids or visit the gym. 
  • Managing your “ICANNOT” –  this is a fear of not being able to do a career change, self-doubt and “I’m not good enough” feeling which will follow you during your journey. Try not to let this negativity influence your desire too much. The more you learn and practise, the more confident you become. I do feel that im much more confident now than I was at the beginning. 
  • Socializing – going out and interact with people, who are in coding as well, provides a significant help. I found myself quite interested in various meetUps and coding workshops. You always learn something new or you can also establish some network. 
  • Portfolio –  during the study always put your knowledge to use by building your portfolio and adding new features. This could be projects from learning platforms which you use (like coursera, freecodecamp, khan academy etc)

If you find this article useful, feel free to share it 🙂 Or you can write me if you have questions or just to say hi.  And good luck!

5 thoughts on “A JOURNEY FROM STAY-AT-HOME MUM TO FRONT-END DEVELOPER

  1. I really like your site. The design and the way it has been put together is really good. I admire your dedication to learning to code and how you manage to stick with it even during a busy lifestyle. I am just starting to get back to learning to code again and I totally agree having a portfolio and networking with others is really important. Its great that you have attended meetups.

    Like

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