How I Made a Career Change in my Thirties, and Other Scary Things

Registered dietetic technician turned software engineer and stronger.

Photo by Ross Findon

If you have long abandoned your last career and you are looking for that first software engineering job after a bootcamp or non-traditional coding program or study, I know exactly how you feel. I was cold-applying and networking like crazy to any and every opportunity I could get my hands on, but the rejections kept on coming.

"Thank you for your interest in So Spectacular Unicorn Startup. We've reviewed your background and unfortunately it's not a match for our hiring needs at the moment."
"Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and the team at Billion Dollar Better Than You Technologies. Unfortunately we have a few other candidates who we feel have experience that aligns more with our current needs."
Over time my courage and heart sank deeper and my fear and anxiety grew taller. So how was I able to carry on?

Imagine an 8 year old mutt at an adoption center, who plays in the yard among other adoptable doggies, enclosed by a big fence. Let's call her...Codie. See what I did there? πŸ˜ Codie yearns to gain the rite of passage to be on the other side, to be with a new family, to prove herself enough to be chosen. Codie has not yet mastered the more difficult concepts like playing dead and fetch, but has been studying Human at the center’s training bootcamp and already sits, stays, and shakes perfectly thanks her previous dog career.

People come and go with other dogs, but mostly with the younger purebreds that have had advanced dog training at a 4-month dog academy. Codie wonders if that’s why they don’t pick her, even though she knows the basics well, already has years of work experience with humans, has been picking up new tricks quickly, is most eager to learn, and is a very good dog. If only they would give her a chance to prove herself, she would eventually be able to roll over just as good — and potentially even better — than the other dogs!

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Even though Codie is scared of what the future holds for her and would be ok just staying around the volunteers forever, she has come to understand that being happy and uncomfortable is light years better than being unhappy and comfortable. She fights through her fear, keeps on practicing and networking, and eventually demonstrates her awesomeness by getting adopted by a dog-friendly tech company, hooray! πŸΆπŸ’»

So I say, channel your inner Codie like I did by doing all the scary things anyway because:

  • You don't need a traditional background. 
  • It doesn't matter how old you are and where you came from. 
  • You shouldn't settle for a mediocre life.
  • You should push forth on the quest for happiness.
  • You are good enough!

And now that I am on this side of the fence, I can tell you that back then I literally could not imagine myself where I am now, but somehow it freaking happened and here I am. So, even though the end goal might seem impossible, unattainable, or nowhere in sight, as long as you keep taking small steps forward, you will eventually get there.

Below is my LinkedIn post on the day I started my first engineering job. I encourage you to read my story, adopt my motto, "Do Scary Things", and join me on the other side!  πŸ‘‡

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