5 Common Excuses Keeping You From Breaking Into the Tech Field

Just a few months before starting at Codeup in the Redwood cohort, I was sitting in the football stadium at the University of Colorado at Boulder, pondering what I would do after graduation. The commencement speaker that year was Kate Fagan, a sports reporter and commentator at ESPN. In her speech, something she said stuck out to me: “Try replacing ‘should’ with ‘want’ and, as frequently as you are able, make decisions with that rubric. Life is best when your ‘should’ and your ‘want’ are aligned.” Sitting there in that stadium, I realized that I knew exactly what I should be doing after graduating, which was applying to attend graduate school for the next five years. But the actual truth was, I didn’t know what I truly wanted. Did I really want to jump into something for five years that I wasn’t completely sure about?

With this in mind I moved to San Antonio after graduation, mostly to be closer to my family. One night at the dinner table, my brother-in-law mentioned several eye-catching billboards around town promoting a local coding bootcamp named Codeup. I had dabbled a bit in coding when I was in college, so my interest was immediately piqued. However, there were doubts nagging at the back of my mind. Am I even capable enough to attend an intensive coding bootcamp like this? I’m not really a super logical person… Am I cut out for this? etc, etc. Despite having a ton of reservations about my capabilities and the usefulness of attending a boot camp, I decided to take a leap of faith. And just a year-and-a-half later, I celebrated my one year as a software developer at Armor in Richardson, TX. In some ways, it feels like a dream. The hard work I put in, the days and nights of impassioned coding, pushing through all the excuses… and finally landing a dream job?! It’s a colorful blur.

So that’s why in this post, I want to address five common excuses that may be keeping you from considering a career in technology. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really make sense to let your fears and nagging doubts keep you from the job of your dreams.

1. “I’m not cut out for a career in tech”

This was one of the primary fears at the forefront of my mind when thinking about doing a complete shift to a technology career. And, as I went through Codeup, I heard this many times from my peers. To be honest, it doesn’t ever fully go away. There are days even now at work where I think I’m in over my head and that I don’t belong there (Imposter Syndrome, anyone?). This fear completely disregards the fact that I’m already doing it. The truth is, it isn’t always easy. Technology is constantly changing, creating new problems and forcing those within the field to continuously find new solutions. At my company, even our most senior developers are learning something new every day. We all have our doubts sometimes, but those self-limiting beliefs shouldn’t keep you from pursuing anything you set your mind to.

2. “I wouldn’t fit in with engineers”

Let me ask you something. What does a veteran, electrical technician, and college music teacher have in common? Well, there was at least one of each in my cohort at Codeup, and all of them excelled and went on to become software developers. Other characters in my cohort included a stay-at-home-mom, barista, marketing professional, and a chef. All of these, however, are just arbitrary labels. None of these people told themselves “I’m just going to be a barista forever, because that’s who I am” or “My personality only suits being in a teacher, so I’m not going to try something different.” The reality is, our self-concept is always constantly shifting. There was such a colorful diversity of backgrounds, personalities, and skill sets at Codeup, proving that there’s no one type or mold of individual that can pursue a technology career.

3. “I don’t want to work alone all day staring at a computer screen”

There are days where indeed this is the case for me, just “heads down coding”, but more often than not my days are filled with collaboration and communication with my teammates. When someone runs into a problem they don’t have the knowledge to solve, they track down someone who does. When a few of us are working in the same codebase, we make sure to frequently communicate to make sure we’re not stepping on each other’s toes. On top of that, we get to be a part of producing the product, providing feedback and suggestions. There are very few days where I just sit at my desk all day, boring holes into my computer screen. Although my experience may certainly be atypical, the main point I’m trying to make is that there is a large range of positions and cultures within the technology field. There are also other roles within the technology field beyond coding and data analytics, such as evangelists and solutions consultants. Both of these have lots of interaction with people and clients! Don’t be afraid to try a few different things until you find your fit.

4. “I don’t have enough experience”

Most of us at Codeup did not come in with prior experience in coding. The great thing about coding bootcamps is that they typically take you from 0 to 100 in a condensed period of time. They guide you through the entire process, allowing you to maximize your success, with everything from technical skills, networking, portfolio-building, and resume review. Even with bootcamps aside, there is a plethora of both paid and free resources online that give you the ability to learn a lot of the preliminary skills you would need. There are communities (e.g. Chingu) with the sole purpose of learning and building projects in new technologies. Experience can be gained, so seek out those resources. They’re only a few keystrokes away.

One thing to note about the technology field is that it’s becoming more and more heavily based on experience and not your formal education. Many companies will see the value in someone who has practical experience. The reality is that many companies are shifting towards seeking out individuals that can come in and hit the ground running with practical know-how instead of purely theoretical education.

5. “I’m not tech savvy enough.”

Although basic computer skills are necessary for success, it’s probably not as much as you think. And like I mentioned above, being able to excel in this field is all about embracing change and learning to learn. You may think you’re not tech savvy because you always have issues with your radio or you can’t get your apps to work right or you get frustrated with your computer software for not doing what you want it to – all of these things are valid struggles. Trust me, I’ve been there. The reality is this: Many of these skills can be learned.

As you look into pursuing a career in the technology field, don’t let these thought patterns keep you from getting where you want to be. Instead, ask yourself the real questions: Why do I want to do this? What kind of lifestyle do I see for myself? What am I passionate about? Excuses are excuses, not truths about you and your life. Set a vision and relentlessly pursue it, letting all these limiting beliefs slide off of you. They don’t have to define your journey.

Joyce Ling is a software developer at a cloud security company based in Richardson, TX. In her free time, she sings in a women’s chorus, rock climbs, plays guitar, and currently runs an organization to bring queer women together in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. 

Follow her on Instagram @ironicsushi or read more of her work at The Luscious Word.

Why San Antonio Has More Than Tacos To Offer

san antonio tech city tacos

Before moving to San Antonio, I was slightly apprehensive. Knowing little to nothing about the city, I didn’t know what to expect. All that had filtered down from the collective consciousness to my perception of the city was the obvious tourist attractions such as the Riverwalk, Alamo, and amazing Tex Mex. After spending a little under a year there, I came to fall in love with this city for reasons beyond what tourists can see in a weekend. The experience of its vibrant and proud Latino culture, flourishing art scene, and emphasis on community have left an indelible mark upon my life.

All this aside, a huge part of my experience in San Antonio was attending Codeup, a coding boot camp that allowed me to have the skills needed to make a complete career shift and also an insider’s look into San Antonio’s flourishing tech community. For those of you that have never had a local’s perspective into the technology layer of San Antonio, I’m here to explain five reasons you should consider beginning a data science career here.

   1. San Antonio is a tech hotspot.

Although San Antonio is usually overshadowed by its northern neighbor Austin, it is actually a humble but bustling tech hotspot according to Inc., a weekly business magazine. Especially as Austin’s infrastructure struggles to support its rapid expansion and population growth, corporations and talent have begun to siphon off to San Antonio, which is only an hour south. Cost-of-living is much lower compared to Austin and is an attractive option for anyone starting out in entry-level data science. Additionally, a 2018 CBRE report names San Antonio in the top 50 US markets for tech talent, and is rapidly rising. On top of that, San Antonio ranked first among small tech markets in millennial population growth, with 12.5 percent between 2011 and 2016. Brookings found even greater growth, more than 14 percent, among millennials in a January report. Where the talent goes, corporations will follow.


   2. Big corporations in San Antonio are hiring for data science roles.

People may not realize it, but San Antonio is home to lots of large corporations such as USAA, HEB, Accenture, Hulu, iHeartMedia, Booz Allen — the list goes on. A quick Google search for data science jobs in San Antonio will pull up over a hundred active openings, all from corporations like the ones listed above. Additionally, SA Works conducted an analysis of over 30 business and thousands of job posts and has projected a higher growth in local tech jobs in San Antonio than the national average. Many of the corporations named above were found to be actively hiring for these positions. Data Science is also considered one of the best jobs in America for 2019, which makes it especially attractive with San Antonio’s affordable cost of living.

   3. San Antonio has a tight-knit tech community.

A tight-knit community means that it is much more accessible for individuals to find resources that will aid them towards their goals, i.e. to become a data scientist. With even just a few months in San Antonio, I was able to see how welcoming and supporting the tech community is. With tech conferences, meetups, workshops, hackathons, and startup competitions galore, the community is truly thriving. The hub of a lot of this activity is Geekdom, a coworking space that serves as the central place for technology nerds to gather. Much of this community has a united vision to see technology flourish in San Antonio. For example, Tech Bloc was an organization created to advocate for policies that attract technology companies and talent to San Antonio. Even Codeup itself was created in order to produce more tech talent in San Antonio and drive growth. With so many determined and passionate technology stakeholders in San Antonio, its growth is inevitable!

   4. San Antonio’s cloud and security sector are well-renowned.

When I say “well-renowned”, it’s not because the majority of people talk about it. The thing about security is that… it’s typically discreet. However, San Antonio is actually the home of dozens of security startups, and some of the most prominent ones are nowhere near household names except perhaps for those that are familiar with the industry. Many of these companies would do well to not draw attention to themselves due to the nature of the work. In conjunction, the University of Texas at San Antonio has three separate cybersecurity centers, and one of them is the top-ranked program in the nation. In general, cybersecurity spending is growing globally, and this will, in turn, benefit the tech growth in San Antonio.  

   5. The city is invested in growing technologically.  

Growing up, I would hear my parents tell me that you need to look at someone’s wallet to know who they truly are. That is, it’s important to know how someone spends their money. One way to tell that San Antonio cares about technology is seeing how the city invests in technology initiatives. For example, there’s WiFi in eight of the city parks, solar-powered smartphone charging attached to benches, and even drones assisting in search and rescue operations. Additionally, the city and Bexar County have addressed the tech gap by budgeting up to 300,000 dollars to create a role for a chief talent and recruitment officer (CTRO). This individual, along with the local nonprofit Tech Bloc which administers the position, has a job that is two-fold: bringing in outside tech talent and matching local talent to organizations.

In many ways, San Antonio is a city that many people seem to underestimate. I showed up without high hopes, dreading the Texas heat and bad drivers. However, it’s a place that I ended up finding some of my closest friends, along with a diverse community and thriving tech industry. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s dubbed the Taco capital of the US.

Joyce Ling is a software developer at a cloud security company based in Richardson, TX. In her free time, she sings in a women’s chorus, rock climbs, plays guitar, and currently runs an organization to bring queer women together in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. 

Follow her on Instagram @ironicsushi or read more of her work at The Luscious Word.