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Nevertheless, Natalie Hummel Coded in 2021!

Natalie Hummel
Dedicated and enthusiastic Software Engineer that enjoys creating solutions and web applications. Over 15 years of recognized success in team collaboration.
・3 min read

As a young girl, we always had a computer in the house. My father was always tinkering with them and allowing us to explore within them. He would often build complete systems from scratch for friends and relatives and I tried to pay attention as best I could.

College Daze

When I got to college, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for my career quite yet. I enrolled in the Designing Websites interim class and became enthralled with HTML and CSS. Once the class ended, I continued to experiment. I would find inspiration in a beautiful piece of art and create a whole template around it. I had several accounts with the earliest, free web hosting sites, such as Angelfire and Geocities, and had several blogs to practice with. As a result, I decided to major in Computer Science. (I think some of you can already predict the awakening I was in for.)

Computer Science at a liberal arts college in 1999 was not what I expected it to be. The curve the courses took 2-3 classes in was dramatic. We jumped from PASCAL to C++, which to me seemed like a pianist going from 'Chopsticks' on to 'Flight of the Bumblebee' in five lessons. I struggled. A lot. I cried. I had a breakdown one night and took stock of many things and looked at the facts:

  • I was a junior in a competitive college, with the pressure to graduate on time.
  • I got my first "D" in any class. Ever.
  • Only 3-5% of the Computer Science department at Birmingham-Southern were females.
  • What I WAS learning was not what I wanted to BE learning.
  • I no longer saw my vision of a career in technology coming true.

For these reasons and more, I did not feel confident at the time that I would be successful upon graduating. Therefore, I changed majors and played with my blog layouts on the side. I do regret, at times, not sticking with the major. I have also wondered what it would have been like to have gone to a different school, or to even be an undergrad in today’s world now that the college has broadened their offerings to match the changing times.

The Rat Race

After graduating with a BA in English, I took a job nowhere in that field (job != editing || writing). And so it went for 20 years, a series of employment that mostly paid the bills and kept a roof over my head. Don't misunderstand me, though. Each job brought amazing experiences and people into my life and I look back fondly on each. (Except for you, lastStrawJob. You know what you did.) In March 2020, I found myself unemployed and at a loss for what to do next. COVID Quarantine kept me home all summer and by the time it seemed right to start looking again, I dreaded it.

Happy Ending?

Apparently, in those 20 years, there were a lot of changes to society and technology AND to the opportunities to learn. I don't even recall how I first stumbled across NCWIT, but they have changed EVERYTHING for me. Thanks to them and their Aspirations in Computing program, I started to believe, once again, that I could make computers and programming my career. With their generosity, I started Flatiron School's Software Engineering track in October 2020. I am now in the last module, React.js, and have started working with one of their career coaches. After so long of having jobs in different fields, I am so close to starting a career in an area I have always admired. It is never too late to find something you love.

Wish me luck with my upcoming job search, and enjoy this Flamenco Gator.
Guitar Noodling

Discussion (2)

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Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Wishing you so much luck!

Reading your account of your 1999 class took me back to my 2000 one (with very similar outcomes), and I can't wait to see how you shake things up this time around!

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Natalie Hummel Author

Thank you so much, Ella! I did like those old school compilers we used.