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.

Everyday Encounters with Data Science

You come home from work, tired to the bone and groaning as you realize you forgot to prep dinner tonight. So, what do you do? You plop down on the couch, whip out your phone and Google “restaurants near me”. You scroll down the list of places to eat and take into account a variety of factors: how high the ratings are, how many people have rated that restaurant, how far it is from you, whether or not it’s busy at that moment, the keywords mentioned in reviews, how long it’s open… the list goes on. You carefully bookmark each prospective restaurant so you can find it later. All of a sudden, you notice that without your knowledge, three hours have slipped by. You realize with a feeling of dread in your stomach that nearly all the restaurants around you are closed… and you head over to the nearest Whataburger in defeat.

A week later, life finds you in the same supine position on the couch, scrolling through restaurants. This time, though, you realize there’s a little compatibility rating next to each restaurant listing. As you scroll, you stumble upon a sushi restaurant that apparently is 90% compatible with your preferences. Without hesitation, you rush there with glee to find that it is everything you could have hoped for! Wow! Data science saves the day!

This very relatable experience is a prime example of how many of us have experienced data science in our lives without realizing it. Let’s take a quick moment to analyze how data science played the protagonist in this story. It is important to note that data science is a broad subject that encompasses a variety of things, including first gathering and shaping data, storing that data, then analyzing and visually presenting that data.

 

How Google Does It

Before we can start analyzing data, Google data scientists must first be able to gather information about everything from restaurant locations, hours, pricing, customer reviews, etc. Next, this massive influx of data must be efficiently manipulated and organized so it can quickly be retrieved, Marie Kondo style. Data scientists are then able to take and analyze this data and visually translate it into something that makes sense, such as the graph that displays the busiest hours at the restaurant, or the tidy list of restaurants you see in the app that is ordered by distance from you.

A simple action such as filtering by “Open Now” or “Price” requires a tight coordination of all of these steps in order to actually produce the output expected by the user. Amazingly, Google Maps is able to do this analysis real-time to constantly change its results based on your current location. Not only that, it is simultaneously analyzing every single person’s GPS data real-time. This allows them to generate components like the graph of how busy an establishment is at the moment.

 

Google Maps, A Man’s Best Friend

Another important factor in data science is using analysis to drive predictions (Read more here about the difference between data analytics and data science). For example, in calculating compatibility ratings, the program takes into account Google location history, search history, types of cuisine/restaurants you typically visit or avoid, whether you’ve saved/rated/visited a place or somewhere similar, or simply data that a user inputs about their dietary preferences. It also allows for constant feedback from the user if a compatibility rating seems off, with a “Not Right?” link attached to every rating. In other words, this rating is a prediction of how much you would like a restaurant based on your past history and behavior.

So how exactly has Google mastered this compatibility rating? Most likely, data scientists at Google have created algorithms to take the pieces of information listed above to produce a prediction. Essentially, it’s a way for a computer program to act more human. For example, think about how you recommend a show to your best friend. Most likely, you know your friend’s personality and history of shows that they’ve enjoyed, so you generally know what kind of show they may like watching.

Similarly, data scientists can use algorithms and statistical models to write code that continuously “learns” to make better predictions, creating an adaptable learning machine. With machine learning and artificial intelligence, Google is able to generate friendly human-like recommendations for over a billion people every single month, which is probably better than what your best friend could do.

When Robots Take Over the World

As the data science field continues to progress and we get closer and closer to true artificial intelligence, we will most likely see the effects of that trickle down into the parts of our everyday life that we hardly consider. We already trust the algorithms and generated recommendations that suggest where or when to eat. Eventually, even something as vital as a life-altering surgery will be dictated by recommendations generated by algorithms for doctors. Understanding and learning about data science will become more significant as it gradually becomes enmeshed with society in ways we may not even be able to fully comprehend. Read more here about Codeup’s 18-week Data Science program which covers most of the topics mentioned in this article, including data visualization, analytics, and machine learning.

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.

Codeup Grows Up | 5th Birthday Party

Date and Time:

Friday, February 22nd

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM CDT

RSVP here!

Location:

Codeup

600 Navarro St. #600

San Antonio, TX 78205

We are so excited to announce the celebration of Codeup’s 5th year of contributing to and building a family within San Antonio’s growing and vibrant tech ecosystem. From the moment our three founders, Michael Girdley, Jason Straughan, and Chris Turner, realized there was a shortage of tech talent in San Antonio to launching their first full stack web development class back in February 2014, Codeup has come a long way.

All of Codeup’s success would not have been possible without your support, and we would love for you to join us as we celebrate the growth of not only Codeup, but our community. We look forward to using this time together as a way to celebrate all of our accomplishments as a community.

This event is free and open to the public, so invite away, but please make sure to RSVP so we can prepare. The event will be held at Codeup’s (600 Navarro St.) 6th floor. There will appetizers, drinks, live music, a photobooth, GAMES, and other fun activities for you to enjoy while you are here. If you have not seen our new space, this would be the perfect opportunity to get a tour!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out at info@codeup.com. See you there!

Special thanks to:

*Jlen Events for helping us build out our party

*Geekdom and San Antonio Economic Development for their support and sponsorships!!

 

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Learn to Code Workshop

learrn to code workshop photo | Coding Tech Bootcamp San Antonio

HTML & CSS (Intro to Web Development)

Date and Time:

Sat, March 2

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM CDT

RSVP here!

Location:

Codeup

600 Navarro St. #600

San Antonio, TX 78205

Are you interested in technology and want to learn the basics of web development? Come out and join us for our FREE Learn to Code Workshop! This Learn to Code workshop will cover the basics of HTML and CSS.

This event previously sold out in record time and tickets are VERY limited! RSVP today!

Materials to bring:

1. Laptop (does not matter what kind)

2. Your smiling face!

AGE REQUIREMENT: 17+

Please e-mail us at info@codeup.com if you have additional questions! See you guys there!

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