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.

So I bought the book JavaScript and jQuery: Interactive Front-End Development by Jon Duckett. This is where I started to learn JavaScript and my first step to becoming a software developer.

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.

So I enrolled in the Treehouse Full Stack JavaScript Techdegree, an online coding boot camp. I would get up early in the morning before work and watch coding videos, and complete projects while working full time. After a few months, I learned React and started applying for jobs.

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.