Fortunately for me, software development is one of those fields where your college degree doesn’t matter much. All that matters are your skills. I thought I would focus on graphic design when considering my college major. I have always had a natural talent for creating art.
Starting art school
So I ended up going to art school, and I loved it. I got to take drawing, painting, ceramics, graphic design, and even a black and white film photography class.
However, I wasn’t happy with the graphic design program. There was an emphasis on packaging design, which did not interest me. I decided to change my focus to painting and drawing instead.
In hindsight, I wish I had stuck it out and continued with graphic design.
At the time, I thought I would eventually get my masters in fine art (MFA) and become a college professor. However, these jobs are few and far between, and most professors are still working artists. After graduation, I had to figure out what I wanted to do to make money. Being an entrepreneur at heart, I created a couple of businesses.
Thinking like an entrepreneur
The first business I started was boutique dog clothing, all handmade by me. But this was tedious and difficult to scale.
Then I returned to my painting and drawing skills and started doing commissions for pet portraits. This was successful and I had a lot of demand, but it also felt tedious after a while.
My husband worked in photography studios and wanted to strike out independently. So we thought it would be a great idea to start our own photography business.
Building a photography business
My husband and I worked together on the business. I quickly learned photography. Soon we were photographing dozens of weddings a year.
I enjoyed running my own business.
It was fun coming up with marketing ideas and delighting our clients. However, we both started feeling the stress of doing weddings weighing us down.
I had always dabbled in making little websites. Back in the day, I only used HTML, even for styling. These were the days of GeoCities. So it made sense for me to create a marketing website for our photography business. I got my first experience with WordPress and customizing themes.
Eventually, I got a job working for a web design company where I created websites using Bootstrap templates and WordPress. I was mainly using just HTML and CSS.
I started getting interested in diving deeper into coding.
Making the transition to software developer
I tried to learn on my own for as long as I could.
But I realized that if I wanted to get a software developer job, I would need more structure and a portfolio to show off.
My first job as a software developer
I was incredibly fortunate to get an offer from a local IT company. At the time, the team only had three engineers. But it ended up being a great learning experience for me. There were more senior developers that I could learn from. I quickly leveled up my skills by learning React, TypeScript, and GraphQL.
I like software development for many of the same reasons I enjoy creating art. I like building things. It’s a good feeling to create something from nothing.
I think there are a lot of similarities between being a developer and an artist.
I believe Andrew Hunt said it best in his book The Pragmatic Programmer:
“In some ways, programming is like painting. You start with a blank canvas and certain basic raw materials. You use a combination of science, art, and craft to determine what to do with them.”
I believe that software development is a great field to be in. The demand for developers will continue to grow with how fast technology moves these days.
I’m proof that you don’t need a computer science degree or be good at math to learn how to code.
If you’re persistent and don’t give up, you’ll succeed.