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Dietitian Turned Coder - Back to My Roots

I’m the only sibling in my family that hasn’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up, until now. My brothers and sisters were not shy about giving me advice on picking something and sticking with it. I have been a dietitian, chef, personal trainer, technical writer, instructional designer, and eLearning developer. None of those professions ever truly excited me. They felt like work. In my opinion you should be in a profession that doesn’t feel like work. It should be one you are passionate about, one that excites you, one that fits your life.

I’m a technical person. I love problem solving and the feeling I get when I’ve created something. My original major in college was computer programming, but I couldn’t see myself coding all day so I changed majors. I didn’t stop to think there was more to it than that, even though I got so much joy out of seeing a final product from code I had written.

Flash forward to August of 2014. This was the year that awoke my desire for coding. I was working as an Instructional Designer developing eLearning for a home brewed loan origination software, but I wasn’t happy. I began to ask myself, “Where would I be today had I stuck with my original major?” I decided to join numerous tech Meetup groups in the DFW area to start making some new connections. I attended 3-4 meetings per week. The more I got involved, the more my passion for the field grew, and the more excited I became. I can tell you, in all my years of working, I have never been as excited about a field as I am about the tech field.

In December of 2014 I got laid off, which was a blessing in disguise, because the very same week there was a hack summit virtual conference led by the nation's top developers. It was in one of those sessions where I got the feeling that I had made the right decision. I believe it was one of the developers at Pluralsight who was talking about a woman named Iris Classon. Iris was a dietitian turned developer. As he shared her story, I kept thinking to myself, “This is me. He’s telling my story.” Iris and I shared so many similarities. I too was a dietitian. I too was unhappy with my chosen profession. I too had the desire to be a developer.

A few months later, I was still trying to figure out how I was going to gain the skills I needed to become a developer. I researched and researched, but kept coming up empty handed. I looked into enrolling in ITT tech, however I didn’t like their program structure. I looked into community colleges, but I didn’t know where to begin. I tried online coding sites like Codeacademy, Coursera, and Lynda.com, but I was not satisfied. Then, one night as I was surfing YouTube, I came across an interview with Duncan Hunter, who was a dietitian turned coder through a nine-week program at FireBootCamp. I got super excited, and started searching for coding boot camps in the Dallas area. I stumbled on Tech Talent South. I joined their Meetup group to find out more about their program. Shortly after, I submitted an application and I received an email to schedule my interview. My interviewer was Betsy, TTS Co-Founder. We had a nice chat and I got off the phone more pumped than I had ever been. Shortly after, I received a congratulations email stating I had been accepted as a Full Time student. I was elated.

We are four weeks into the program and I love every minute of it. All the instructors are wonderful, patient, and very good at what they do. One example comes from week one when my computer crashed and left me without a computer for two days. David was teaching that day, so Ham (the other Full Time instructor) let me use his computer. Luckily the next day was mainly lecture, so I just took notes. As soon as I received my new computer, I messaged David and Ham to see if they could help me setup my environment. They weren’t available but the Part Time instructor, Jeremy, responded stating that if I could attend a Ruby Meetup that night, he would help me set it up. Another force of nature that worked out in my favor, the Meetup was five minutes from where I worked and it was during my dinner break. Jeremy was a lifesaver that night. He missed his meeting because of me, and took the time to set up my new computer so I would be ready for class the next day.

I was watching a video recently and the speaker was talking negatively about coding bootcamps. He says they are a waste of money and time, and that you could learn to code on your own through online courses. Being a student at Tech Talent South, I have to disagree with him. I have learned so much more at TTS than I have through the online courses. I personally wasn’t getting anywhere with the online courses, and I was beginning to give up hope.

Tech Talent South came along when I had exhausted all my options. I am glad they did! Sure, it’s tough getting up at 5am to get to class by 8am after only four hours of sleep, but it’s a small sacrifice to make for such a huge reward. What gets me out of bed is the excitement of what we will learn that day and getting to hang out with the most amazing people that share my passion. At TTS you don’t feel like a student in a class, you feel like a member of the family. A family who codes together. Together we build some awesome web apps.

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