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Did you transition to tech from another career?

Kara Luton
From tutus to tech. Ballerina ➡️ music publicist ➡️ software engineer. Nashville Women Programmers organizer.
・1 min read

I'd love to hear if you've transitioned to tech from another career and why you decided to make the switch!

🌟Your answer may be included in my UndergroundJS keynote talk in August! 🌟

Discussion (42)

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Jonathan Silvestri

Yup! I was a social media manager and pretty much disliked everything about it.

My wife was a teacher and she disliked that work also. She randomly fell into engineering thru a funny situation at a job fair she attended, and when I saw how much she liked it, I asked her to teach me some of the basics and then took those learnings and applied them to a bootcamp. Three years later, here I am!

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Grant Bennett

I just left 10 years of finance, the last 5 years of which as a professional adviser. I’m now a full time developer.

About 20 years ago I started learning Visual Basic, built basic websites, IRC scripts in mIRC and Eggdrop (in TCL), CGI scripts in Perl, more advanced websites in ASP, and currently PHP with a side plate of JavaScript, HTML, CSS.

Most projects I built were just for me but a few years ago I started building a full back-office system for my finance office, to automate tracking of clients, their products etc, so we didn’t miss repeat business, or fall behind on current business, could track KPIs, print reports, and so on.

I lost interest in finance and wanted to do something new but didn’t know what until I realised that throughout every job I’ve ever had, I was always developing something. I knew it would be difficult to find a new career as a developer but luckily I’d just spent over a year building a large admin system that I could use to prove to companies that while I had no commercial experience on my CV (resume), I did have provable code, so I created a demo copy with dummy data.

I’m now in my 5th month as a full time developer and really enjoying my change of career.

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Heather Shockney

I went from home health care to social media management to developer. My daughter has autism and needed to be homeschooled to make sure she had the best opportunity so I needed something I could do from home. That's where social media management came in. Then I heard about a boot camp in my area so I figured I would take her to see if she had any interest. She didn't and I did. So, here I am.

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Kimmy Bird

I went from the international education industry (as a product owner/project manager) and was fascinated by what the dev team was able to do to create our online courses for teachers to teach English abroad. If I asked them to completely reconfigure a part of the course, they could, and it was amazing! I was so impressed that they were able to constantly learn new technologies and that they were always solving interesting problems. They also took their role of fixing any bugs that came up very seriously - I new that their career and craft were important to them. I now am loving that I get to solve problems and learn new things every day.

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Sarah Bartley

I was a teacher. I did teaching for 9 years before I made the switch to tech. I fell out of love with it over the years and eventually realized teaching wasn't a good fit for me anymore. At first I had no clue what to do next. I took a break and did lots of self reflection to figure out what to do next. After doing this, I discovered Skillcrush and eventually wrote my first line of code. That first line of code transformed my life and inspired to make the career change into tech.

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Sue Smith

Lovely to see how many other folk have transitioned from different backgrounds, makes me feel a bit less weird..!

I worked in public sector arts management for several years then did a load of dead-end jobs I hated. 12 years ago, in a desperate move to get myself some sort of career, I took a course in software engineering and found to my surprise (at almost 30) that I loved to code. 🙃 🤓

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Kevin Ard • Edited

Yep. I was originally a land surveyor. I started school for Civil Engineering - building bridges and dams and stuff. I quickly - with my professors' help - realized how little room for innovation there is in Civil. A bridge is a bridge, a dam is a dam. Euclid's Elements, ca. 300bc, are still the gold standard.

CompSci let me tap more into the "c'mon let's invent some stuff and be weird!!!" side of my brain.

Looking back, there was no option. I would be miserable now (15 years later) if I couldn't invent stuff and be wierd :)))

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Stefanos Kouroupis • Edited

As a fellow land surveyor I found a more natural escape. I was mainly into photogrammetry and laser scanning and back in the first days of those technologies there was a huge lack of tools I ended up building photogrammetry software then GIS and now for some reason I am in Telco 😛

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Owen Henley

I worked in Film and TV as a Camera Assistant. Just got over the long work hours (out the house at 5:30am and would get home at 9:30pm) and pretentious people I was having to work with. Dropped everything and quit, and went travelling for 2 years. Decided to take up iOS Development. Got my first job this year! Much nicer life.

karaluton profile image
Kara Luton Author

That’s awesome. Congrats on the new job!

matthewjtrask profile image
Matt Trask

I went from being a guitar teacher, musician, and bartender to a developer. Mostly because I needed health insurance but turned out I really enjoyed it.

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sayyidka • Edited

Two years ago I was a French Language teacher (French foreign language). I liked it but I wanted to start a new career in a more dynamic and why not in a technical domain, although I have a literary background (Bachelor Degree in History).
I've always found Web fascinating, so I looked for learning Web Development. A year training and internship later, I found my first job as Web Developer. Now I'm working here for seven months and I really enjoy my new career.

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Mateusz Borowiak

I started my career as Architect after uni, supricingly after 5 years of studying that was not my thing.
Firstly I shifted my career to become a 3D Artist as making 3D graphics was my hobby and it paid well at the time. 4 years later Im sitting here as Senior 3D Artist, and about 2 months ago I decided to transition again to become a full time frontend dev. I shifted my career drasticly once, I can do that twice.
Why programming? There are plenty of job offers, it was always quite easy to learn programming languages for me personally, and I feel similiar pleasure working on software compared to making 3D (and maybe playing games?) - its this childish satisfaction feeling when you tell your pc (give input) to do something and it does, and you can see that and you can interract with that on your screen in real time. Amazing. Also I feel like the tech industry will be still growing for years, so I have no good reason to not become a developer.

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Matthew Daly

I used to be an insurance clerk, but was bored of it and had little hope of career progression. I got into Linux in 2006, then started toying with Python and HTML, before deciding I wanted to be a web developer. Finally made the jump in 2011.

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Amanda Hasenzahl

I studied recreation management in college. While in school and after graduating I was a ropes course facilitator and camp counselor. I loved it, but I struggled to find full time work in the outdoor/adventure recreation space. After a few years of trying to figure out what I was going to do, I came across online courses for design and development. I spent a year using various online resources to teach myself to code. About a year later, I was hired for my first role as a developer. I have been in that role for just over a year now.

karaluton profile image
Kara Luton Author

And you're a badass developer! So happy to have gotten the chance to work with you ❤️

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Amanda Hasenzahl

Thank you! You are a badass as well and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from you this past year. You inspire me! :)

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Bryon Larrance

Yep, I was a fulltime musician for 15 yrs. and did the whole college thing (M.M. in Jazz Studies).

Started with freecodecamp, found it super interesting then NSS and have been writing code for a living for almost 2yrs now. I feel most days like it is too good to be true, working with smart folks, being creative, and making a great living.

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Steven J. Selcuk

Oooooooh boy. I was an aircraft maintenance engineer. and now I am giving a big fight to return back to aviation just like Rick who try to kill Negan (yes it is Walking Dead reference). But first I have to make some buck for pursuing my commercial pilot license too. Damn.

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Heval Hazal Kurt

I've been doing it for the last 6 months. I was a filmmaker in the marketing industry. I'm still a filmmaker but not for the clients just for my personal projects as an independent filmmaker. However, both being independent and being a filmmaker doesn't make you alive on the financial side, especially in my dysfunctional country :) So I've decided to change my career. As a person who founded one of the biggest webpage and community about filmmaking in my country, I've had some basic coding experience in web development and graduated from a fine arts academy so front-end would be perfect for me! Nope! It wasn't. I've studied for a while on the web development and it was OK but it was kind of makeup and boring for me. Before the decision, I've met Python for a marketing project and I've fallen in love with it. So I've changed my mind and started to study on Python and back-end. It has been just 5-6 month, I'm still learning and developing projects but I love it! Here is my transition process that isn't finished yet :)

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Belma • Edited

Yep! I was a translator first, then became a language tutor. There were hardly any permanent jobs so I was constantly ‘hopping’ between language schools. Translation jobs were far and between too! About 8 years ago I went to a PD session at the polytechnic where I was teaching English & discovered virtual reality. I was hooked & decided to learn about computers, programming & IT in general. I completed a diploma in IT but couldn’t commit to the coding classes as I was still working full-time in my teaching role. I also had to find an extra role as half of my teaching position just disappeared overnight! I became a part-time learning designer whilst completing the diploma. One year after graduating from the diploma course, I enrolled in a web developer bootcamp. Struggled immensely but kept going. A year and a half later, I was offered a junior dev role at an e-learning company. I’ll be using all of my skills and experience in languages, combining it with my newly acquired coding & technical skills. I couldn’t wish for anything better! Ah, yes, I start my new role in July (2019). It’s been a long journey but worth every step! Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story :-)

devdrake0 profile image

6 years ago I was a Service Delivery Manager (think customer service representative, looking after contractual obligations, KPI's and ITSM principles).

I then decided to learn programming in my own time, and then swapped careers in the same company.

straydogstrut profile image

I changed careers 8 months ago from a Recruitment Consultant for a professional services company operating in the local government and construction sector, to an Accessibility Consultant for a charity promoting digital inclusion. While not a development role, knowledge of web development is essential so I’m continually trying to build up my existing skills.

I always wanted to do something in tech, and through my undergraduate degree, volunteering and personal experiences, I wanted that to involve empowering people who experience disabilities. However until now life had other ideas.

Having worked for over fifteen years in various banking, insurance and recruitment roles, it’s a relief to finally secure a role that aligns more with who I am. I’m also studying an MSc in HCI which has awoken all my excitement for tech that had been neglected for so long.

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Paul Brickles

I was also a teacher, teaching in primary schools in the UK for around a decade and focusing on music and creative enrichment. It was a rewarding and busy job, where I met and worked with many great people. Ultimately though, I felt that I had reached a far as I could with the job, and the national political landscape for education meant that I knew I would be asked to do things I wouldn't agree with or be able to approach positively.

More pertinently, during a short career break, I had started building a travel blog and was asked by musician friends to help with their digital offering. This led to some time doing both jobs as I felt my way through becoming a web developer.
Eventually I got the chance to try a full time job at an agency (I literally changed a few words on my linkedin profile and, hey presto!) and a couple of years later I'm a dev at a great fintech company, working in React.

I'd say I haven't looked back but of course that's not true, even this week I was at my daughter's school demoing at a STEM careers fair, but it was nice to be able to walk away without the books to mark!

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Randall Jordan

Had been working in construction for about 10 years when 2008 housing crisis hit. Got let go. I knew before that happened I did not want to be doing construction anymore but I had nothing in my skill set that I could utilize to move to another career. So after getting a low skill job I started back to school part time for a computer science degree. Was not totally sure what I was getting into, but I had a bit of experience altering scripts that people had written for some online games I was playing, and I enjoyed that. I am now working as software engineer, and just celebrated my 5th year anniversary at the company I am employed. Never really felt like I wanted to do UI work, but have found it not all that bad, especially when I get to work the whole stack.

razorpi profile image

I'm in advertising, and as a copywriter in a creative field, I started noticing that even creativity is now ruled by data... So after seeing my industry shrink for a while now, I started to learn how to code. For me the basic thought is simple, I'm a writer by trade, and programing is basically the same, but in a different language. In my case, I've been at it for about 6 months now and I'm enjoying it.

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Jeremy Moore

I studied architecture in undergrad and took a course in scripting AutoCAD. A bunch of us liked it so much we petitioned to create a new section the following semester with the instructor to pursue our own projects. After doing that programming I finally created a decent website to show off my portfolio, and enjoyed web dev so much that when that portfolio failed to help me get opportunities, I decided to do web instead.

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Vikas Raj

I am commerce graduate but was not happy studying commerce. When I was a student I love science and tech stuff but was unable to make it through the science stream in my high school as my grades were not great.

But accidently I met a guy who was in coding stuff and suggest me to try it out. And this gets me as I am already unhappy with my studying.

From that day I started to learn coding and I can proudly say that I am a self taught coder.

Practically, I switched my career before even starting my career. 😁😁

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Leira Sánchez

I’m a Mechanical Engineer because I wanted to develop cars, I worked for a couple of automakers and had the offer I had always dreamt of before graduating but then, another company offered to pay me to attend a Software Engineering bootcamp. I took it without hesitating. No regrets.

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Umberto D'Ovidio

I got a bachelor work psychology and a master in cognitive neuroscience. Was heading towards a phd but then I realized I actually liked more the technical part of research as compared to the whole burocratic and political part that sorrounds it. I decided to enroll in a cs degree and start all over again (note that I'm from Europe where universities have manageable study fees). Now I'm working for a übercool application monitoring company, and could not be happier of my decision to switch career

yechielk profile image
Yechiel Kalmenson


I was a Rabbi and a Hebrew School teacher before switching to tech!

karaluton profile image
Kara Luton Author

That's awesome! Why did you decide to switch to tech?

yechielk profile image
Yechiel Kalmenson

A combination of factors.

The position I had was eliminated and at that point we were already a family so I decided to switch to a career with more financial stability.

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Cécile Lebleu

Yes! I am also a designer, particularly focused in brand design and typography. I love it just as much, and like to use both careers together in my projects, and have both careers improve one another. I really feel that development has made me a better designer, and design impacts every decision I make in my dev projects.

I’m really excited to see where it all takes me 👩🏼‍💻

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Stephen Smith • Edited

Well yeah I am in that process now. My work background really had nothing to do with the tech field. I have done many types of jobs over the years but I just knew that I needed to do something where my creative side could flourish and I could help others. I found that development seemed to fit that bill, so I got my degree, and I am pursuing that goal. I kind of dabbled with the idea of pursuing this as a job over the last couple of decades but I finally pushed myself to just do it. I am so glad I did.

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Ken Crocken

I was a lawyer for about 12 years before my first developer job. I wasn't a lawyer in a fancy white shoe firm; I was litigating cases in the state courts. There was no work life balance, life was work, plus the financial roller coaster was too stomach churning. I was planning on a family and it just wasn't fair to them.

ultimatus1 profile image

Hello Im an HR for 5 years in one company and I really feel sick of this job, cant stand arguing with people anymore, atm Im trying to switch career, trying to learn web dev :)

garrett profile image

I’m currently working on making the switch right now

webmasterdevlin profile image
Devlin Duldulao

tv modeling -> nurse -> life insurance agent -> seo -> mobile dev -> fullstack dev -> consultant. What a ride. 😆

saqlain5544 profile image

I have not transitioned as I am a student of Electrical Power Engineering but I am learning the frontend as well as backend programming.

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Ariel Barboza

Yes ma’am, transitioned from the United Stated Army to becoming a software engineer!