Why I Became A Software Engineer
Throughout my 20’s and into my 30’s, there has been one and only one constant: change. My 20’s were tumultuous, to say the least. When I graduated college in Texas, I moved to Tennessee, on a whim, because I was looking for an adventure. I lived in both Nashville and Knoxville and met lots of wonderful friends and had tons of amazing experiences.
In Knoxville, I opened a small business as a custom cake designer under the name Milk + Honey. That business was my baby and I gave it everything I had, but unfortunately it was not financially successful and I had to find a more stable career path. I LOVED the creativity of the baking world and the freedom I had as a small business owner. I did not love struggling to make ends meet and never knowing if i’d make enough money to pay off my student loan debt. I’ve also always had a passion for education so next I found myself working as an assistant teacher at a Montessori school. I learned so much and loved that role, but unfortunately I ran into the same problem once again. It was not and never would be a financially lucrative job. So again, I had to choose money and stability over a job I loved.
Next I found myself stumbling into the world of digital marketing. I had a friend at a marketing firm that knew I was looking for my next career move, so he offered me a position. This was my first experience in a tech/digital company. I worked as a social media manager and digital marketer. I learned a lot about SEO, some very basic HTML and CSS as well as the basics of web design. I loved the culture of tech. I worked remotely, we had core working hours, but I was ultimately trusted and empowered to do my job well. About a year into this role, the company wasn’t doing great and I was unfortunately laid off. So back to the job hunt I went.
Next came real estate. My childhood best friend is a Realtor in Texas and she seemed to be having a lot of financial success, had the ability to travel all over the world, and seemed to have a lot of freedom. All of these things we’re really attractive to me, and I didn’t feel like I had a lot to loose so I decided to give it a try. Look, I know tons of realtors that are VERY successful, but if I’m being totally honest those were the hardest 2 and 1/2 years of my life and I have never been so broke. This was the first time I chased the money instead of the job itself. Sales simply is not for me. There is no stereotype of sales that I fit into. In fact you could probably argue my personality is the exact opposite of what a successful agent typically possess.(It’s actually funny now.)
So, that’s a super abridged version of the last 10 years of my life. Cut to the present. I, once again, found myself looking for what was next. I knew the real estate life wasn’t sustainable for me and I was going to have to figure something else out. I was beginning to feel like a modern day Goldilocks. So I took some time to do some serious self-inventory of what I truly want out of life and a career. Turns out, it’s a pretty short list. I want to travel and have tons of amazing experiences. I want to see my friends and family in other cities and states more often. I want to have work that is challenging, engaging, and can offer benefits, healthcare, and paid time off. And that’s when I discovered the world of tech, specifically, software engineering.
I started researching software engineering as a career and became totally fascinated. It seemed to check a lot of boxes, but I honestly wasn’t sure if I could learn to program and become a developer. I had little to no experience programming. But if I’ve proven anything to myself, it’s that I will never say no to a challenge. I’m not afraid to try new things. I felt like I FINALLY found a career path that ticked all the boxes and that I was truly excited about. In the past, I’ve chosen jobs for EITHER the money or the love of the work, but I had never found a job where I could have both. I started to think that job didn’t exist for me. I am so happy I discovered this career path. My only regret is that I didn’t pursue it sooner in my life.
I am so excited to dive head first into this crazy, challenging, and rewarding field. I became a software engineer because I never settled for something that wasn’t right for me. I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from the, “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion:
“We were not having any fun, he had recently begun pointing out. I would take exception (didn’t we do this, didn’t we do that) but I had also known what he meant. He meant doing things not because we were expected to do them or had always done them or should do them but because we wanted to do them. He meant wanting. He meant living.”
I am a firm believer in having fun, and to never stop chasing your joy until you find it. Goldilocks found her joy in just three tries. It took me closer to 10. But I’m so glad I never gave up on myself. And I’m so excited to jump into this crazy challenging amazing world of software engineering.