Stay at home mom to remote front-end developer.
Moms often get a bad rap in marketing and in the tech world. When we want to explain how easy something is we say, “So simple a mom could do it.” As if moms are somehow less intelligent than the average person. Nine months ago, I had zero knowledge of computer programming. This week I accepted an offer to work as a remote front-end developer. Don’t count out moms in the tech world.
Here is how I went from a stay at home mom to a work at home mom/web developer.
What’s a mom to do?
I like my kids. They are some of my favorite people. After becoming a mom, I tried to think of different ways to make money while still being able to stay home with them. Multilevel marketing companies like DoTerra or LuLaRoe help many moms achieve that goal. This type of work never appealed to me though and I knew there had to be an alternative.
My father-in-law suggested programming as a career because my family wanted options that wouldn’t require us to go into debt. Neither my husband nor I thought we were technical enough to actually code. However, 9 months ago we were crazy enough to start believing a career in Web Development might be an option for us both. For us, a career in tech would mean better financial security without school loans. It also offered the possibility of working from home.
We listened to stories of people switching careers to become web developers. We planned on it taking us at least two years to study and then apply for jobs. We also assumed it would take us at least a year or more in a Junior Developer role before we could find remote work. I managed to do it in nine months. So, what changed?
A sprinkle of coding and a dash of passion.
I knew as a mom of three young kids who like to wake up at ungodly hours, I wouldn’t be able to stay up until 3 am coding. I already survive most days hyped up on way too much coffee.
The hustle life was not the life for me. I had to have a more stable plan. I have written about how I juggle learning to code and raising a family. If you would like more details check out my post Programming and Parenting: leveling up while raising a family. In short, I turned coding into my new hobby. I love sewing and crocheting. But while I was learning to code I didn’t have time to pursue my other hobbies. I had to make coding as interesting for me to trick my brain into believing it wasn’t a chore to learn but a fun new hobby. This made it much easier to spend my free time learning to code. I found creative coding and used it to learn new coding concepts.
I also did what those before me said to do. I started a blog. I joined twitter where I communicated with people learning to code. I documented my journey on Instagram. I worked on a portfolio. I worked on side projects I was actually interested in and that kept me wanting to learn more. These things gave me something to talk about during my interview. It was obvious that I enjoyed coding.
Find your people.
After my second was born, I struggled with post-partum mood disorder. When I found moms, who were going through the same thing, I found strength in the community. So one of the first things I did after I started learning to code was search out a community of others doing the same. Hear are a few of the awesome communities I joined:
- CodeNewbie: This is an amazing community. They don’t lie when they say they are “the most supportive community of programmers and people learning to code.” They have a weekly Twitter chat which is great for sharing your ups and downs when learning to code. The CodeNewbie podcast has a lot of great stories of people learning to code. It also has talks with people who are already working in the tech community.
- freeCodeCamp: This was actually my first exposure to coding. I’m glad it was because it taught me to “read, search, ask” whenever I was stuck with a coding problem. The curriculum is great to get your feet wet in the programming world. Or advance beyond a beginner if you are willing to keep at it. The forum and chat room almost always has someone to answer any questions you have.
- #100daysofcode: This is an individual challenge. But there is a great Twitter community. You work on coding projects everyday for 100 days and document it on Twitter and GitHub. This is one of the challenges that helped me build my portfolio.
- codingartist.io #dailycssimages challenge: This is the challenge I enjoyed the most . Whenever someone asks me how I learned CSS I point to this website. It also got me interested in logo design and SVG. Almost all my featured pens on CodePen.io are from prompts I got from this challenge. Most of my portfolio projects are either from this challenge or inspired by it like. There is a great Facebook and Twitter group for this challenge as well.
- Chingu cohorts: I am going to quote the site here because it explains the cohort better than I can.”Here is what we do: put motivated people with similar goals together in an environment that gives them the opportunity to level-up in a way they couldn’t otherwise. Friendships, level ups and hijinks ensue. This project aims to create more of a bootcamp style community, but with more flexibility.”I have met a lot of encouraging people in this cohort. I also gained valuable experience working on a project in a remote setting.
This last resource is one I paid for.
- Advance beginner Challenge: This is the challenge that helped me out every other challenge together and level up. Dain gave me sound advice for updating my website and portfolio. He encouraged me to start applying when I did not think I was ready. The member’s only slack group and podcast was also an encouraging resource.
As a stay at home mom my resume was not impressive. I almost didn’t apply for the job when I saw they wanted a resume and a portfolio. Instead of giving up I decided to do something different. I redid the company’s website as my resume. You can see it here. This helped me stand out from the applicant pool. It also helped me become familiar with the company, their brand, and their code.
Landing the Job
I am still receiving private messages asking how I got this job. There is no magic formula. I listened to good advice from people working in tech. I worked on projects I was passionate about. I surrounded myself with encouraging and inspiring communities. And I took a chance. I still have a lot of learning to do. That is the frustrating and wonderful side of programming. I will always feel like a CodeNewbie. Programming is not easy. But I learned this mom can do it.