A year ago, I got fired from a marketing job, that paid so little, I had to wait tables on the side. I would have probably laughed in your face if you told me I would be able to get a job as a product engineer. Me, a developer? Unbelievable. Yet here we are. Pinch me.
After getting laid off on very short notice and waitressing full-time to not loose my apartment, I was determined to shift my career. A desperate (and maybe little naive) attempt to protect myself from anything like this happening again.
In a bit of a whim I applied to a programming bootcamp in my neighbourhood. In later job interviews I tried to line up this decision with breadcrumbs from my CV: how I already had programming courses during my studies, did research with R and have of course 'always been super interested in programming' - which is not exactly the whole truth. I love learning. I desperately wanted a profession with efficacy, clear tasks and solutions and most importantly I wanted to get away as far away from insecure, competitive marketing jobs as I possible could - I just didn’t know programming was the answer. I do now.
The course was exactly as hard as you picture the attempt to learn a whole new discipline in three month is. Each week, we sped through a new programming language. And each week was a thunderstorm of mixed emotions: unbelievable highs when something finally and magically worked, a lot of confusion regarding all the new materials and mainly astonishment at my own courage (and or madness) to actually try to become a web developer in three month.
When applying for jobs near the end of our program, the rollercoaster started all over again - I did not feel ready to be a developer out in the real world at all and was convinced that recruiters would laugh at me. Why would somebody hire and pay me for something I spend three month learning when it had been impossible to find a job in a field I had actually a degree in?
Yet they did. None of my many doubts have come true. In none of the gazillion job interviews I had (out of a sheer panic nobody would hire me) I got mocked, laughed at or criticised for shifting careers. The opposite: people where fascinated by my courage to start something new, interested in the app I developed and - most surprisingly - wanted to hire me.
And now I am a product engineer. And I love it. I still have to remind myself everyday that it’s ok to not have all the answers and to look stuff up. And that nobody is going 'catch me' while I 'fake' being a programmer. I guess that’s what they call imposter syndrome. Along my journey, there were so many amazing and supportive people who continue to believe in me and I am eternally grateful for them and the opportunity I got. Me, a developer? Still can’t fully believe it.