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Almost a year ago, I attended a free workshop event at Motueka – Rail Girls Motueka. It was wonderful! Lots of people interested in IT and lots of people supporting girls in IT. We had fun, cupcakes, and plenty of hands-on practice when it comes to computers, coding, and IT in general. I was toying with the idea of ‘learning to code’ so when the opportunity for a weekend workshop came up, I thought I’d check it out, to see what all the fuss was about.

After the event, when all the excitement of ‘Yes, I can do it!’ euphoria had died out, I slowly came to a realisation of ‘What was I thinking?’. You see, I was one of the ‘oldest’ girls at the workshop. It was wonderful to see school-aged girls learning to code in Ruby on Rails, and I think we need more of those events all year round, but for me, I thought it was a bit too late for a career change. After all, I needed to save up for my Kiwi Saver & probably start enjoying it (the retirement) pretty soon. So why rock the boat and start from scratch, as a ‘Junior Software Developer’? The word ‘junior’ just didn’t seem appropriate for me. So I put the idea aside – for a while.

This year, I completed my studies in Graduate Diploma in IT, which started as an invitation to observe a new class at the local polytechnic,  3D Multi-user Virtual Environments, taught by 2 leading experts in the field. I was meant to visit for an hour then leave. Well, I took my time and left after 5 years, completing few other papers as part of the Grad Dip on the way. I was obviously interested in IT, and somehow followed the path, both directly and indirectly towards it. Now, I’m teaching soft skills on the very programme, including Communications for IT. I’ve always been a teacher, so teaching part was the part I felt confident in. It was the hard skills that I was weary of. You see, somebody once mentioned that I was completing an IT diploma without actually doing any coding! He was right. I had a go at the introductory programming course but found it overwhelmingly difficult to get through. I didn’t want to fail, so I withdrew, thinking I needed longer than a semester to learn to code.

Why has it been so difficult to convince myself? More annoyingly, why has it been so difficult to take the plunge in the direction of my interest, passion, and dream, especially when so many other people have said that I could do it and supported me all the way? Why am I still struggling with the idea of becoming a Junior Software Developer?

I had to make a decision.

After the 2-day workshop last year, I thought that if in a year’s time I still felt passionate about learning to code, then I’d do something about it. I was already convinced that studying part-time, whilst working full-time wasn’t for me. There are too many variables that I can’t control nor predict. One of the options came from the workshop, to attend an immersive ‘bootcamp’ at http://www.devacademy.co.nz/ It’s not cheap, and requires temporarily moving to another city to complete the 9-week immersive programme. I have to save the money first, and then arrange leave from work if, and when the time comes practically uproot the family to Wellington temporarily. So it’s rather complicated.

But today, I kind of made that decision. By some pure coincidence, I met one of the volunteers from last year’s workshop at the local Saturday market. We started chatting, talked about our families, work, plans. And then I mentioned that I was thinking about completing the bootcamp but had some self-doubts, especially about the timing of it. She told me about one of her friends, who made a late change in her life and became a coder at 50. It was reassuring to hear that it was possible to become a software developer at a relatively mature age. Perhaps I just needed to hear that.

I still have another year to confirm that this is the path I’d like to follow. I’d still be teaching and developing my IT skills meanwhile. But I’m giving myself 9 months to decide on enrolling on the bootcamp, around this time next year. I thought that if I blogged about it, I’m more likely to make a firm decision, and check back this time next year.

It never ceases to amaze me how people and the stories they share can have a huge impact on others and their life-changing decisions. I feel privileged to have met such inspiring people, and look forward to meeting more on this new path, which I’m still considering to take  🙂

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