The three things I wish I’d known when I started my tech journey
After graduating from university in 2016, I found myself working for one of the biggest tech companies in the world, Amazon. Although ironically, I was working as far away from tech in operations, managing up to a hundred warehouse staff at a time. I watched the guys working in tech and the entrepreneurs starting new ventures with envy thinking there was no way I’d be able to segway my career in that direction now that I had started climbing the corporate ladder.
By the time 2018 came around I’d become a bit of an endurance junkie in my spare time. I had been thinking about an idea for a website for runners and triathletes. After a few months of building up enough courage, I took the leap and quit my job, diving head first into a world I knew nothing about. I was going to learn how to code and start my entrepreneurial journey.
It’s been about 16 months since that fateful day when I walked into day 1 of Le Wagon’s coding bootcamp to change my life. I have since launched my website myfinishline.co.uk and am also working as a software engineer at Veeqo. Needless to say, I have learnt a lot in that time both technically and about making my way as a woman in tech. There are also a few nuggets of knowledge which I think could have made my life easier or at least set my expectations a little more realistically if i’d known them then. So here are my top 3 things I wish I’d known before I started my tech journey:
Imposter syndrome is normal and in many cases a good thing
When I started learning to code there were days where I would feel like the biggest loser in the world because I couldn’t get a simple terminal app to print my age. When you are working in a team of males, the levels of testosterone and competitiveness can act as a catalyst for this feeling. I’d see people around me appear to find things easy that I found challenging and would feel like an imposter. What I realise now is that this just means you’re pushing yourself. Senior male engineers I have spoken to admit to still getting imposter syndrome. Embrace it. It means you are learning and don’t assume that the guys around you aren’t feeling the same way. Turns out they get it too!
Stay in your lane
There are so many resources out there now from online tutorials to meetups. It can be easy to meet someone who is about as far along in the process of moving into tech as you and compare yourself to them. They might be learning React JS when you decided to focus on getting a better understanding of Ruby on Rails for example. Or they might be talking about a completely different language that you have never heard about. It can be tempting to try and copy them but the truth is, everyone has the same 1440 minutes in a day and it is impossible to learn everything. Stay on your path, it doesn’t have to be the same as others around you. This applies to the startup world too. There is a lot of pressure on founders to raise money, build fast and fail fast. But that doesn’t have to apply to you if it’s not the path you want to take.
Don’t assume you have nothing to bring to the table
Whether you’re learning how to code, trying to launch a start-up or even going into a role which involves some technical thinking such as a product manager, it can seem very daunting. Losing the familiarity of a comfort zone can make you afraid to contribute. But the chances are you might have something valuable to bring to the table from previous roles that you have held that your more technical colleagues may not have had the insight into. So speak up. In my role as a software engineer I often find myself being able to contribute effectively to conversations about the user and their needs due to the fact that the software we provide is designed for warehouse workers and managers who I understand well from my role at Amazon.