“It’s never too late to start your career” says Rebecca, a software engineer who started coding at 25

I’m a software engineer for a tech company in San Francisco, on a team that builds mobile apps with React Native. I wasn’t always a software engineer, or even a tech person. In fact, I spent the first half of my 20’s trying out different jobs in different fields, looking for exactly what I’ve found as a software engineer: a job and field that challenges me, sparks my curiosity, and allows me to work with other enthusiastic, smart, interesting people.

There was no clear, defining moment when I realized that I wanted to change my career to software, but there were many small experiences that lead me here. From dabbling with statistical programming and database querying at one job, to offhandedly taking a CSS and HTML course online, and having a chance encounter with a friend of a friend who herself had changed careers to become a software engineer, over a few years, the idea that I wanted to change my career eventually solidified into a well-defined goal which I pursued tirelessly for 2 years.

Aside from the fact that I absolutely love my job, knowing that I set a goal and made it happen empowers me and drives me forward. Goal setting, roadmap planning, and follow-through not only helped me get my dream job, but they continue to help me grow as a software engineer and keep pace in a field that rapidly iterates on its technology and best practices.

Right now, I’m working on a few new, simultaneous goals: learning how to program in Swift & building a pro-bono website for a small business, as well as some goals that I’ll always have: keeping up with the newest versions of JavaScript and React, and keeping my problem-solving skills sharp. So how do I do it?

Well, for one thing, I enjoy it all, so that makes it pretty easy relatively speaking. But more specifically, I work in 3-month sprints on my big goals, and stick to daily routines for the smaller ones. If you’re familiar with Agile, you already know how sprints work: you set a goal and time-box yourself to getting it accomplished. I break my 3-month goals down into weekly goals, then daily goals, and re-evaluate my progress at the start of each week.

In order to maintain and improve the coding skills I already have, I solve at least one new coding problem (outside of work-related stuff) and read at least one article about something new in my field every day.

The biggest challenge I face is deciding what I want to learn or improve at any given time. While I’m learning Swift right now, there are at least 5 other technologies off the top of my head that I’m itching to learn too!

For me, the best thing about having changed to careers to software engineering, is that now I get to do something I love every day. Deciding to quit my job and change careers when I was in my mid-20’s was terrifying. I worried that I was giving up a stable job for something really uncertain. I wasn’t wrong – there was no guarantee that I would succeed, but in the end, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Even though I started late, I know I’ll be much more successful as a software engineer than I ever would have been in another field, simply because I love it, and feel excited to work hard and learn more each day.

My biggest advice to anyone considering a career change is this: if you’ve found your passion, follow it – that passion will drive your success more than any amount of hard work in a career that doesn’t inspire you.

Rebecca is a Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA where she builds mobile apps with React Native. She discovered her passion for technology at age 25, attended an intensive software engineering immersive at 26, and got her first engineering job shortly after. Rebecca loves coding and spends a lot of time doing it, but you can also find her reading long books, working out at her local climbing gym, or shopping for new overalls.

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