How I survived my first job search in the IT world


After dedicating almost a decade to teaching, I decided to study programming. This decision was not based on a job change or a search for new experiences, but on the need to extend that knowledge to the educational area. I was aware of the need in the market to find programmers and my intention was to instill computational thinking in school education to train the programmers of the future. I was not part of the plan. Until I ran out of work and everything went uphill for me.

👩🏽‍🏫  Going from pedagogy to algorithms.

I graduated with a degree in English pedagogy and started working at a Catholic school in Santiago. Like all newbies in teaching, I came with my suitcase full of dreams and playful methodologies that would make my classes be perfect. I had seen all those inspirational movies about teachers changing the world of their students, like 'Dead Poets Society', 'Les Choristes', 'Dangerous Minds', 'The Ron Clark Story', etc. –and yes– I wanted to be like one of them, too.

‘Dead Poets Society’

That need of making my classes "more entertaining and meaningful" led me to look for different strategies and to use technology in an effective way for learning. It was then that I joined the Microsoft community of educators and was invited to participate in the international meetings of educators that the company of the little window holds once a year. While there, I met teachers from all over the world, coming from different realities, all with a lot of energy and an enviable passion. Something that resonated with me was constantly hearing that 'programming is the language of the future, and we should inculcate it from an early age.' I made the decision then to start studying programming in a FullStack Bootcamp. That way, I could take with my suitcase full of dreams to the university world, and train the teachers of the future and instill in them a passion for education and technology. That was the new plan.

It was a good plan, everything was going smoothly. I learned front-end skills with HTML, CSS, a little bit of Javascript (JQuery). I had to learn to think in a completely different way, create methods and functions for the Back-end, understand the algorithms that were presented to me. I managed to create web applications with Ruby on Rails, I learned about databases (PostgreSQL), process optimization, REST architecture, AWS, Heroku, Git, agile methodology, among others. It was an intense 9 month period. Frustration was part of the day-to-day. I wanted to quit a couple of times, but 'I had already paid for it,' so I kept moving forward to finish it and end the process. And so I did. I managed to get my Full-Stack developer diploma. Now I could continue with my original plan, and focus on my niche, education.

💣 Everything fell apart

A few months later, upon returning from my vacation, I found out that I had not been assigned courses at the university due to a 'restructuring' done in January. It was March, and all the teaching vacancies were already filled. For the first time in my working life, I was out of work. For the first time, I was out of my comfort zone, not knowing what to do.

I had 3 options:

🧐  Doing private lessons and teaching in language institutes (what I already knew how to do).

🚙  Uber

🤩  Make a resounding change and dive headfirst into the world of programming (something new and challenging).

Considering that I was already out of my comfort zone and that nothing could go so wrong, I jumped into the adventure, new learning, and new challenges. The decision had already been made when doubts started to appear: How could I start working in an unknown world, if I had no previous experience? How would I start looking? Fear began to paralyze me. The fear of failure, of starting from scratch.

🤓  Overcoming the fear barrier (by studying what the market is looking for)

So I started to explore Get on Board on a daily basis. I read the job postings they offered, the requirements, the benefits, what were the most requested languages. I became an expert in browsing ads, but I didn't apply to any of them. I didn't dare to do it. The fear of making a fool of myself in an interview, of even being selected, paralyzed me.

I analyzed each ad I read. I reviewed the functions to be performed by a Full-stack, the languages to be handled. I started to make a list of the desirable tools required by companies, and the functions I would have to perform. I made my ✅ checklist and started rehearsing the areas where I felt weaker in (like making queries, implementing new gems in Rails, etc).

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash
I modified my CV to make it look 'more IT'. I wrote an honest and accurate cover letter and embarked on my first application. I would like to say that the story ends here, that I got that first job, but it doesn't. Applying for that first job was like a force that grabbed my hand, which began applying to countless others. The fear was gone, but so was the shame. If there had been a neurosurgeon position, I would have applied anyway, all in all, you will learn as you go 🤷🏽.

I went to several interviews. I answered the questions relatively well and was continuing in some processes. The fear came back. I didn't dare. It was like seeing a rabbit at night in front of a bright light...or my mom trying to turn on the computer (they freeze).

 I realized that I needed to do an internship (at 35 years old). Only then I would feel more at ease. Despite having bills to pay and a child to support, I had savings that would help me survive for a few months while I did my internship. It was the best choice I could have made.

I started applying for internships and it was a success. I managed to complete my internship in 3 months, and then I was hired as a Full-stack junior. I learned a lot. Then, thanks to the launch of coach🧢, I could understand why some companies didn't contact me (because I was shamelessly applying for senior positions when I was actually a junior). So I started to polish my way of applying. I understood that I had to unify my skills and search accordingly. 

💪🏽 From programming to content.

Switching careers after 30 created a sort of "immunity" to failure. There was no longer that anxiety I once had. Getting out of my comfort zone was the best thing that could have happened to me because now I have the experience I needed to start in the IT world.

After going through the adventure of changing industries, a new change appeared in my work life.

 In a remarkable turn of events, I ended up being hired as a Content Creator at Get on Board. I work 100% remotely from home, which allows me to spend more time with my son, while still getting my work done. I'm learning new skills, researching content and marketing strategies, and applying what I already know. It's the perfect mix of English, technology, and writing/editing.

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