"Navigating the World of Software Development: My Journey of Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Success"

"From Struggling to Find My Way to Making a Difference: My Reflections on the Road to Becoming a Software Developer"

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As I look back on my journey from taking the commitment to becoming a software engineer over the past year, I can't help but feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.

During the pandemic, my partner, our cat, and I moved cross-country from Brooklyn, NY, where I lived for over 10 years, to Long Beach, CA, in the hopes of starting our plant-based food pop-up.

At the time, everything in LA was open, and it seemed like a great decision because the COVID infection rates were low. But upon our arrival, everything changed.

When I first arrived to LA, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Honestly, I was a bit culture-shocked, and I had no idea what my next plan was. My best friend suggested that I should learn how to code, and that planted the seed for me to learn how to obtain a role in tech.

At that point in my life, I couldn't tell you if I personally knew one person in my circle who had a tech job, let alone a software engineer, but one thing that I did know was that the journey I was ready to embark on to become one was definitely going to be a challenge.

I had no idea how much information I would have to learn and consume or how many obstacles I would need to overcome. One of the biggest challenges I faced was simply getting started. With so much information out there and so many different technologies to choose from, it was difficult to know where to begin. I spent a lot of time reading, watching YouTube videos, buying courses on Udemy, and just generally learning and experimenting, searching to find the right path for me.

One day, I was endlessly scrolling through Twitter when I stumbled upon the hashtag #100Devs. It was a tweet from Nyah that read, "Roll Call! Who is doing the FREE #100devs web development cohort starting tomorrow? Go down the list and start following each other. A family that supports each other wins together. If you didn't sign up yet, it's not too late: leonnoel.com/100Devs Class: Jan 11, 6:30 p.m. EST."

I took that tweet as an omen to look deeper into the program and see if it was something I wanted to commit to for 30 weeks. The previous cohort seemed really fun and engaging. It seemed perfect for me since it was all online, with a curriculum laid out and a community of folks on Discord where I could work with others and discuss the challenges we faced throughout the course.

I've always loved technology, and I come from a creative background doing photography, fine arts, non-profit work, queer studies, and hospitality. I always enjoyed learning and thought being a software engineer would merge all my interests together, so my thought was that maybe learning web development would be the perfect place for me to thrive.

At first, it all seemed like so much fun, and things were easy. But as the course progressed, things got a bit harder, specifically with JavaScript my consistency began to wane. I began to let my negative thoughts take over, imposter syndrome as we call it, believing that I wasn't good enough, and even started making excuses that led to me becoming less present, such as showing up to class but not completing the assignments.

One of the biggest lessons I learned along the way was that it's okay to not know everything as long as you're learning, and the importance of showing up for yourself by truly taking care of yourself and asking for help when you need it.

As a developer, it's easy to get caught up in the belief that you should be able to figure everything out on your own. But the truth is that no one knows everything, and there is always someone out there who has more experience or a different perspective that can help you.

As I gained more experience and my knowledge grew, the challenges began to shift. I started to face more complex problems and encountered roadblocks that I couldn't easily overcome before. But through persistence and grit, I was able to push through and find solutions.

Another lesson I learned was the value of collaboration. Working with others not only helped me learn more and improve my skills, but it also allowed me to come up with better solutions to problems. I found that bouncing ideas off of others and getting feedback was crucial to my growth as a developer. It also helped me to gain knowledge of other software engineers and to form a circle of friends who also experienced similar challenges. By working together we became stronger developers.

In terms of accomplishments, I am proud of the projects I have worked on and the impact they have had. From building a website for myself to showcase my work, writing blog posts to share my journey with the public, building front-end mobile and web apps for a small startup that was used by real people, and building website templates and a WordPress site for non-profit organizations, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on projects that have had a real impact on the world in a positive way.

Overall, my journey as a developer has been one of growth, learning, and accomplishment. While there have certainly been challenges along the way, I wouldn't have traded the experiences I have had for anything else. I am excited to see what the future holds, what challenges I will face in 2023, and what accomplishments I will achieve as I continue to grow as a developer.