I spent many years in the workforce before I finally changed careers to get into programing / development.
Let’s see, over 12 years I was in:
- retail sales
- retail management
- property management
- financial services
- 1031 exchange securities investment
- commercial real estate leasing and management
- construction project management
… I really explored a lot of different fields and work environments. I have worked in different regions of the country. I have been in companies of every size from start up to global conglomerate.
Jumping into coding as a career is the best move I have ever made
There is a lot of shade being tossed at the industry right now for being a tough place for women to break into or work in. I can’t say any of it is undeserved. It is a little weird being the only woman in my department meetings.
However, none of the industries or environments that I have worked in have been any better or more advantageous than this one. No matter where I have worked or what industry I have been in, trying to climb the ladder as a woman has been a pain in the butt.
The gender dynamics of any workplace are pretty much the same in my experience. The problems women face in tech are unfortunately not unique, there are just fewer women around because more women have convinced themselves that they are not cut out for coding…but that is a whole other post : )
All that being said, being in tech has had some clear advantages. As a working mom, it has been the best, hands down THE BEST place to be.
In my past jobs, I had a set schedule. Some places were more “set” than others, but there was always the expectation that I would be in the office sometime before 9 and leave sometime after 5. My jobs typically required me to be physically present during office hours. Back in the retail days, you have to be there for your shift.
As a coder, I can do my job from anywhere and everyone knows it. It is amazing to be able to just work from home when I want to. I actually like going into the office most of the time, but the option is there.
When I need to meet a contractor at home, or work around a doctor’s appointment, or be home with a sick kid, I just work from home…and it is no big deal. There is no penalty, no push back … nothing. To some of you reading this, that doesn’t seem like a big deal. For some of you, this is life changing.
I can remember leaving my sick kid with other people and tearfully commuting into work because I just could not miss one more day. I can remember how much emotion that caused. Feeling like a bad mother. Being angry at my job and the world that I have to make these choices. I have to work to take care of my family but then I have to leave my kid when he is sick. Heartbreak. Guilt. Worry. Longing. Anger…. Not good. Really not good.
The number of times I had to say, “Sorry Mommy can’t come to (insert whatever event here) because she has to work” and the disappointment on my son’s face. Later I would see pictures of all the stay at home moms who were at the event and see my kid without me.
Now I go to everything. I don’t have to miss one single thing. I just go because I actually have a flexible schedule. I can work around it.
I worked long, set hours to get paid before. Now I make WAY more. WAY more. … a lot more. Did I mention I make more?
As an admin or a store manager I would bust my ass working really, really hard for way less money than what I am making now. It was also a dead end because there was really only so far up I could go. Now I can learn new languages and technologies to increase my compensation. There is no glass ceiling and there is plenty of opportunity.
My last job before the jump was in construction project management. In order to advance any further I would have had to go back to school for an engineering degree, architecture degree or go to law school … ugh. No way!
Now if I want to advance in my career, I take a few online courses in a new language and work on a few side projects to hone my skills.
Boom… done… more $. What! Awesome!
The demand for coding skills is off the charts. Health insurance, 401K, vacation time, flex time, and other benefits are a given. That may seem like nothing for some of you reading this, but I have had jobs where those things are not just a given. Some of you reading this would kiss the floor of the waiting room in the dentist’s office it would be such a blessing. I’ve been there lady. The ability to find a job just about anywhere, making good $ and benefits because the demand is there … Wow!
Look I know some of you have always had these things. Some of you don’t have families depending on you. Some of you have never had “the struggle”. I guess this post is really for those ladies out there that are scraping by in other fields or making compromises daily to take care of their families. I have been there. I have done that.
If you are wondering if putting in the work and making the switch into tech is worth it, I’m telling you it really is.
I sold everything. I made some big moves in my life to make this switch. I’m sure some people thought I was crazy. I’m sure some people said “yeah right, she’ll be back”. I pulled months of very late nights trying to learn new things while still being wife and mom. It was worth it.
It was so worth it.
If you need some advice on how to make the switch and get your foot in the door, ask me. I would be glad to help.
Keep on coding!
Susan … @LadyCoder