Developing a Developer
By: Erica Hawkins, Technical Consultant
While on the phone with a friend the other day, I explained that I’d been busy lately wrapping a couple of projects. She asked, “Oh, is that a phrase you all use in the tech world?” I thought about it for a sec and said, “Oh, no it isn’t really, I guess I just borrowed that from my previous life.”
That’s a Wrap
I came to software development via a non-traditional route. In 2018, I was burnt out and looking for a new challenge in my career. I’d left my role in episodic TV production and was on the hunt for something new. I wanted to be challenged, but needed a career that afforded me a livable income, and flexibility in where and how I did my work.
What was I motivated by? What did I get excited about? Stories. Narratives. Projects. Processes. Yes, but I’d left that world behind. My time in the film/TV world afforded me the opportunity to be a part of multi-million-dollar projects, work with top talent in the industry, and create entire fictional worlds. Yes, I was challenged creatively in my previous work, but the role (and quite a lot of the roles within the entertainment world) lacked in other aspects, including balance of time for family and self, financial stability, and career advancement.
“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door.”
“Why don’t you learn to code?” my husband asked. “Don’t you need to be good at math to do that?” I initially dismissed the idea completely. “I don’t know that its math dependent, you should look into it,” he said. I entertained the idea and visualized myself behind a laptop hammering out lines of code like Neo in the Matrix. I wasn’t sure if this was for me. I enjoyed collaboration and team-oriented work. I liked people and talking to folks. I wasn’t sure if such a solitary work experience was ideal and imagined that I’d be miserable.
My work today couldn’t be more different from my Matrix daydream. I collaborate with colleagues and consult with clients regularly. My days are challenging, as I’m often tasked with project requirements that are nuanced and unique to a client, which often requires research and consultation with others. I’ve become quite comfortable with not knowing something and having to figure it out. My coding instructors said this would be the case, but it was difficult then to understand the depth of that statement until I began working. In bootcamp, it all just felt very uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing.
After dipping a toe into some coding on my own, I applied to a coding bootcamp, deciding to plunge head-first into development. I didn’t have a plan for where it would lead, but I’d done my research and spoken to individuals who’d made the switch and were successfully working as software developers. I decided to bet on myself and chose the red pill.
The 15 weeks flew by and before I knew it, I was a freshly minted dev. The wonderful thing about programming and software development is the plethora of industries in which the skill is needed. I quickly realized just how much opportunity laid before me.
AHEAD & ServiceNow
In my job search, I was looking for a company that would nurture my growth but not hold my hand; one that could provide the opportunity to develop my skills but give me space to try my hand at actual work. Like my initial career search, it proved challenging to find.
After months of researching companies, taking informational meetings, networking, and interviewing, I accepted a role as a ServiceNow Associate Consultant at AHEAD within LAUNCH – an early talent development program. LAUNCH gave me the support that I was looking for as a new grad and equipped me with training and mentorship, which quickly brought me up to speed with ServiceNow and our business model.
July will mark three years since I started at AHEAD and began my first development role. I’ve grown so much as a developer in that span of time, and I’m challenged daily by our clients and all they are trying to accomplish. I’m thankful for all my fellow Aheadians – I’ve had the pleasure to work with some phenomenal people within the ESM practice and elsewhere.
I ran across this quote the other day from Eric Schmidt, a former CEO of Google, which reminded me of the journey that led me here:
“Find a way to say yes to things. Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meet new friends, say yes to learn something new. ‘Yes’ is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference. ‘Yes’ lets you stand out in a crowd, be the optimist, see the glass full, be the one everyone comes to. ‘Yes’ is what keeps us all young.”
Today, I’m a Technical Consultant and ServiceNow developer at AHEAD who said “yes” and is very much enjoying not being in the Matrix.