The first memory I have of using a computer was playing Wolfenstein3D with my dad for MS/DOS. I didn't understand quite how the magic pictures moved but I remember being fascinated by the ability to make the screen change just by clicking a mouse.
My name is Kelly. I'm a current member of the Careers in Code bootcamp. This is a brief history of how I got there.
I'm a child of the '90s, so I grew up while computers were becoming increasingly part of everyday life. My parents bought a Gateway 2000 desktop as a present to the whole family on one memorable Christmas. I used it to type up homework and look up fan fiction while my parents were in the other room. (Sorry, Mom!)
Other notable computer moments from my childhood include using a WebTV in our dining room and the movie The Matrix coming out when I was 12. I imagined becoming a hacker someday, so to prepare, I spent a period of time unironically wearing a long black knit duster.
(If you're unfamiliar with WebTV, it was a device you could hook up to your television to turn it into a computer monitor. It came with a separate keyboard. Truly, the wave of the future.)
In high school, I was an AV Club kid who read the morning announcements on camera all four years. I thought that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so when I graduated, I chose to pursue a major in Broadcasting-Mass Communications.
It was my junior year when I realized I didn't want to work in a television studio. It made more sense to finish out my degree than start over at that point. I took a bunch of communications courses and graduated with a BA. Directly out of school, I got hired to answer phones for an insurance company and update policies using a GUI for an internal database. I found an apartment, moved out from home, and commenced navigating adulthood as best I could.
Turns out I left the insurance gig to work for a nonprofit specializing in offering community support for people with disabilities. While I was working there, I got hired at a rural WIC clinic. My favorite parts of that job were entering client information into databases and creating/updating the Facebook page for the clinic. That was my first experience working with social media in a professional capacity. I was given free reign and found the project to be quite successful.
From there, I decided to take a big city job. I worked for a big telecom company offering customer service via online chat. The constant pressure of sales and stream of abuse from customers went to my head so I chose to leave.
After a period of time restoring my mental health, I realized what all my previous work had in common: using a computer to create and update information. I'd started dating my current partner by this point. He's self-taught and works professionally as a developer. He encouraged me to look into web development as a career.
I started trying to teach myself. One fateful night, my partner came home from a local tech meetup and said he'd heard of this program called Careers in Code. It seemed like a really good fit for me. I knew I wanted the structure of a small class and a built-in network of people willing to help newbies get on their feet.
I sent in my application and hoped for the best. While I waited, I devoured the pre-course material suggested via Codecademy. The little voice in the back of my mind started to change from "Can you really do this?" to "You can really do this!".
After a phone interview and a technical take-home test, I found out on a cold February morning that I'd made the class list! I was thrilled. I told my loved ones. I may have cried. It felt like I had been granted a fresh start in a career path that works for me.
I went to the first class meeting and was immediately excited for the program. We're a bit over halfway through the course now and I feel like I've already come so far in my coding journey. I can't wait to see where our class goes from here!
I have a photo of me in an elementary school computer lab sitting on a stool and typing away. When times get hard, I pull out that photo and remember how far I've come. This is for her then and me now and all of my other selves in between.