My Tech Journey: Advice for Career Switchers

Helen Anderson on March 19, 2019

I'm Helen and I post about data things here on I'm also a career switcher. I made the move into the tech industry in my 30s and for no... [Read Full]
markdown guide

I have a background in music and philosophy (never finished my degree).

Programming was never on the radar until I had the chance to acquire some "trade". It just happened that programming was available πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

I was in my late 20s and didn't really have any prior experience before starting school. Took a 2-year college diploma which turned out to be fantastic.

5 years after graduating here I am! πŸ˜‚


I am hearing more and more from those who have done the same. Studied something completely different and then upskilled later when they stumbled upon it or had to get to grips with it for work.

The image that tech is only for those who have been doing it since they were young is (hopefully) going away with a more inclusive environment for all.

Congratulations on your success and upcoming book. :)


Thank you for this!

I'm also trying to make the switch and it all feels so daunting (especially attending meetups alone, as a shy introvert). These are great reminders that I should have pasted around my home :)


Congratulations on making the move. It's not easy so be kind to yourself and appreciate how far you've come already.

I agree that going to Meetups alone can be daunting. I found that sending the organiser a message in advance letting them know I was new and would appreciate any help with introductions was useful. That way they are looking out for you in advance and, I have found, are more than happy to help.


My favorite quote for Donald Glover is "If you're not afraid, you're not doing anything important." I gave up being a developer to become an EMT after my best friend died of an overdose and it was a pretty frightening journey, especially for someone who has severe anxiety. I ended up not being cut out to be an EMT, but I'll never have to wonder "what if?" because I chased after my dream at the time. No matter what happens, enjoy the ride!


Thank you for your insightful article Helen. I’ve been really struggling in making my career change & need positive reminders like this every now & then. Cheers!


You're welcome, glad you found it useful.

Good luck with your journey :)


"Maybe being a technical administrator is a good stepping stone into a developer role, maybe working in a non-technical team in a software development company is a way to transition." Currently trying this trick in a Software Company. I am hired as a customer service executive and keeping my fingers crossed. Let's see how it goes. However there is no denying that you're truly an inspiration! I loved every bit of your post.


Sounds like you’re on your way to your goal, awesome stuff :)


I can definitely understand this position, I'm considering the move from an Operations Specialist role that I'm currently in after graduating university with my Bachelor in IT and Networking. I've developed alot of skills during my time but I'm now looking to dive into a role more focused around software development.

Great blog! :)


That sounds like an ideal move, good luck with getting there :)


"Adding coding to the experience I had developed so far was an additional skill, not a starting point."

Bang on.


It's a really awesome article. I'm not a mid career switch, but I understand the times spent in doing something different and heading to the tech industry.

I started my career as a salesman. Despite I had a CS degree due to me giving up being a developer after my university.

But I eventually became a developer due as I found out later that you could find work using python which gave me a different perspective as a developer due to my experience in sales.


Sounds like a great combination and a unique perspective.

I really enjoyed your post on advice to junior developers and will be following for more :)


Thanks a lot for the compliment :) I really enjoy your posts as well :)


"You are not starting from zero."
Thank you! I have to remind myself of this often. I appreciate your honesty here in this piece!

In my previous role, I had the title of data analyst but, that's not what my last job entailed. So, I've been continuing to learn (SQL, Python, Excel, Tableau, etc.) since then and am now enrolled in a part time data analytics course with the goal of landing a job as a DA. Networking can be daunting to me too, as another commenter mentioned here.


It's so tricky.

In my organisation, there are cases where a Data Analyst has been hired by a non-technical manager who wasn't sure what to hire for. In some cases Excel is enough, in others SQL/Python is essential. It's a tricky job title as there are so many different things you could be doing depending on the role.

Good on you for upskilling to go after a more technical job. :D


Hi Helen. Great post. So close too mee all your words. After 15 years of business and hospitality I'm on a career change to development
You said :My new way to keep in the loop is to take a few hours each weekend to focus on a topic that interests me and enjoy it. Trying to take on everything is the quickest way to lose enthusiasm.
You mean a new topic or something that exists for long but you just going to learn it?because I can only code around 3h a day on the night (working in shifts...) my approach now has been 2h creating something like a project freelance or so and then one hour focus on one topic where I end creating a tutorial about it with examples. It been helping me a lot to really learn :) thank you again


Thanks for this, I have been looking to begin my search for a new job soon as I transition from a teacher to developer. These are very encouraging!


Congratulations on making the switch and all the best on the job hunt πŸ‘πŸ˜€


Hi Helen,

Thanks for the post and all the responses to ama.

I am just curious to know if there are any companies in NZ where we could work completely remote across timezones. I am at GMT +0530. Specifically in the field of data science and machine learning.



Hi Sujith

I'm not aware of any specifically but I'd recommend checking out our NZ wide job site - Most job ads have a note at the bottom of their ad that says if they are happy to take applications from overseas candidates.



Good article! Although, I think that Introduction to Computer Science and Programming using Python from MITOPENCourseware is a more complete series of videos for programming learning, rather than Harvard's CS50. Regarding your article, it is practical and clear-sighted.


Thanks for writing this. I’m 31 and seriously looking into a career in coding and posts like this help me feel less intimidated.


Day 2 of Full stack boot camp 6 months 2 go. Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm a believer....


That's lovely to hear, thanks for letting me know :)


Thanks for this article. My semi truck went down in sub zero northern weather. I came back home to Atlanta and said to myself, I have to do something different.

I use to have a passion for programming 20 years ago while learning B.A.S.I.C. In high school.

So here I am.
Interviewing with immersive programs, reading everything on the net, practicing for hours online daily, and at times feeling like a failure. But this article is inspirational. I’ll continue to feed from it.

code of conduct - report abuse