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My Career Roadmap

Every developer has their own unique roadmap. I love hearing these stories as they’re constant reminders that there is no right way. Anyone can become a successful developer as long as they have the passion for it.

I’ll be sharing my roadmap in hopes that someone also realizes that there are multiple ways to be part of the programming world.

My journey started when I attended a junior college in an effort to complete the prerequisites for a Biochemistry degree. I actually got far enough to start taking Organic Chemistry courses. However, my heart wasn’t in it. I found it boring and dreaded anything related to those science classes. I did find it cool that I could recognize some of the fancy ingredients in a shampoo. It just wasn’t what I connected with.

I knew that something had to change. I was on track to transfer to a four year university in less than two years. I was always interested in computers and thought about programming. I still don’t know why I was drawn to that: maybe social media made it look cool?

The dilemma was to either continue or take a risk by starting a whole new career. I didn’t want to spend more time at junior college, so I needed to make a hard decision: either continue with Biochemistry or drop it completely to pursue programming, but still transfer within the estimated year.

I probably would have chosen to experiment with both at the same time if I had realized this a couple of years prior. However, I ended up changing majors within a week. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My first programming class felt a bit scary. The building was run down and cold. The room was cramped. There were only two females (including myself). The course wasn’t hard or discriminating against genders but it probably felt that way due to being completely new to the field and not knowing anyone.

It didn’t discourage me from programming. In fact, I still remember typing up my first Hello World program. It was the feeling of writing code that made me realize that I was on the right track.

Luckily, the junior college had opened up the new STEM building a year later. This really made the place more welcoming. It was actually pretty cool. There were outlets everywhere! A dream for programmers that we take for granted.

One of the courses that I took was Internet Programming. This was a turning point for me. My professor recommended that I participate in the local hackathon that was coming up soon. He suggested forming a team with the two other females in class. I never once thought he was discriminating. I honestly believe that he saw potential in all of us but we were lacking confidence in a male-dominated world.

We participated in the hackathon as a female group. It was my first time working with a team and presenting our project to the public. We didn’t win any awards, but it provided some of the confidence that I was lacking. I finally understood that it didn’t matter what gender you are. I found a love of programming and wanted to be one of the best.

I ended up getting recruited for a local internship through the hackathon. I was able to learn about realistic expectations when building a project for a client. The lead developer was also very open to teaching a complete newbie. This is where I learned the basics for web development.

It was this type of support that helped shape my career.

I graduated from junior college with an associates degree in Chemistry and transferred the next semester.

The one regret that I do have in my career is the university that I chose. It didn’t have the best resources for the Computer Science students. The classes were boring and most of the professors didn't seem to care. If you weren’t on the game research cohort, you were just another student passing through.

During this time, I got a chance to be part of a research team. However, I decided to accept an internship instead. It was another difficult decision as both had great opportunities. I still think that the internship was the best route as it helped me later on.

The internship only lasted for the summer. I learned Polymer during this time. The project was my first deployment and it was used by the city. It was also another great confidence booster.

I returned to school with the goal to find my first job before graduation. Truthfully, it was very discouraging, even with my internship experiences. Most companies wanted developers with years in programming. They really don’t make it easy for junior developers.

I’m almost positive that I placed over 100 applications. When I did get a response, it was a decline. I also attended the career fair that the university organized. That’s where I found the company that gave me a job offer.

I started working for them after graduation. This led to web development in the Drupal world for a little over 2 years. It was a small company but provided development growth. I learned the importance of quality assurance and time management. I also acquired the skill to advocate for higher priority tickets.

The most important lesson was that a project can only thrive with a unified team and proper documentation.

However, the company had a tremendous downsize due to the pandemic.

I was once again on the job hunt. Fortunately, the connections I made during the summer internship helped me find a job at This Dot. There was still an interview process, which I passed due to all the career choices that were made.

I’m very excited to be here. I’m working with LitElement projects and more structured work environments. It really is a big difference from a very small company. I’m now pursuing the path of being a mentor, a dream that I had since my first internship. I’m working on improving a mentorship program and making sure my mentee has all the support she needs.

I barely have a bit over 3 years of work experience. The time went by very quickly and I’m still excited to be programming. I can’t wait to see where my roadmap will be in the next upcoming years.

Tweet me your favorite moment in your roadmap!

This Dot Labs is a development consultancy that is trusted by top industry companies, including Stripe, Xero, Wikimedia, Docusign, and Twilio. This Dot takes a hands-on approach by providing tailored development strategies to help you approach your most pressing challenges with clarity and confidence. Whether it's bridging the gap between business and technology or modernizing legacy systems, you’ll find a breadth of experience and knowledge you need. Check out how This Dot Labs can empower your tech journey.

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These are some of the main reasons why I advocate for mentoring programs for career development. 1. Coding Skills Developers thrive by being exposed to all types of coding styles. I especially learn more when someone can review my code and provide feedback on improvements. There’s only so much you can learn from reading code or documentation. My mentors have provided their thoughts on different approaches to coding. One advice that has stuck out to me is the need for comments. Time can be saved by writing useful comments for future development even if you’re the only coder. They’re meant to explain the code versus having to take time to translate the lines into your native language. A mentor’s time is valuable. The less time they need translating, the more time they can provide a good review of your code. I knew that comments were important but it wasn’t until it was emphasized from someone that I respected that their value solidified in my mind. 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