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Background

At 18 years old, like most of the students around the country (Portugal), I had to choose which field of study/professional path I wanted to pursue. Unfortunately, I belonged to a group of people that wasn’t quite sure what was the right to follow. As years went by, one by one, I always considered changing course, but it always made me feel like it was a step backward. Little did I know that, sometimes, just one step backward means a lot of steps forward after that.
Throughout my courses, I had two classes that were somehow related to programming. These two classes were my favorite, which was strange because I was studying retail management (and languages and business relations, after that). Both these courses taught me a lot, but, as I was approaching the work environment and experience, it didn’t seem to be what I really would enjoy doing for the rest of my life.

At first, given the likeability of the classes mentioned above, I saw it as an opportunity to find a new hobby and learn how to code, but after some conversations and real thought into this, I realized that I had found the right path for me.
Knowing that this “world” is always changing and that this industry doesn’t follow the same set of rules as some others (such as mandatory university degree), at 24 years old, I quit my job and decided to enroll in a Bootcamp to learn the basics of programming and start my journey as a programmer.

This shift in career path requires some sacrifice because, as I said before, you’re leaving behind something that you are already so familiar with. You’re either reentering the university or doing some Bootcamp that will try to condense years of learning into just a few months. You will need to be fully invested in this because it is a fast ride and you need to seize this. That was my perspective because I had one chance to do everything and I was giving it up to chase something that I was passionate about.
With that in mind, I worked hard every day of the Bootcamp and the following internship to acquire as much knowledge as I could. I wanted to prove that I was capable of being productive and a valuable asset to the company that would hire me, even though my curriculum wasn’t like most of the candidates they would interview.

 

Current Situation

Being a programmer, at least from my perspective, is to never stop learning. It is a field that is constantly changing and improving. I have always been interested in continuous learning and not being in “the comfort zone”, so this journey seems the right fit for me.
During my first year of professional experience, I learned a lot of new things outside of coding skills. This industry seems to work in a very unique way, with a lot of workflows that I didn’t have the chance to learn through the Bootcamp.

LOAD helped me to overcome all the issues I found along the way, by giving me tools to learn and giving me the time needed to understand the issue at hand, instead of rushing or pressuring me into delivering results.
Also, and it is a very important aspect, personally, the team was always ready to help me improve, no matter what was the issue that I was faced with. It is essential to have a team like this, because it will make you improve faster, just by having different opinions on your work and debating which approach is better. On top of that, it is a very friendly environment, family-like, which makes you comfortable while working.

 

Opinion/Future Goals

In my opinion, these changes will always be scary because you have to diverge from the original path you had chosen for your life and take a risk in a completely different one. A complete shot in the dark. Like I said before, one step backward might mean a more fulfilling and better future. That’s the risk I took and I can assure you that it is paying off.
You might feel what people call “Imposter Syndrome” like you don’t belong because you didn’t follow the standard procedures. If you try hard enough and always seize the opportunity to learn more and get better, you can be successful in every work field. I have been trying to overcome this feeling by using my free time to fill the knowledge gaps I have. Since it is something that I really enjoy, I don’t see it as “extra work” but as something that will make me better.

Even though I have changed career paths, I have not forgotten what I had learned during my university courses and I am sure that will be helpful in the future. There is always a way to connect two study fields together and, in my situation, with Management and IT, it can be easily done. The future can still give me an opportunity to use all my knowledge and thrive.
Speaking from experience, if you have the opportunity (I know most people don’t have the chance to drop everything and start over), evaluate your options and think about what you like to do and how that can help improve your life. Be it in IT, Design, or any other field.

I considered the following steps:

  • Look for the most important skills you must acquire  in order to have a career in a specific field;
  • Ask yourself: How can I acquire the necessary skills?;
  • Consider how much time you need to be, at least, at an entry-level position in this career;
  • Last, but the most important in my honest opinion, answer yourself how ready you are to change your career and start over. 

Take a chance just like I did. It might be a rough start (companies can overlook your curriculum because you don’t have the same studies as the majority of the applicants), but you will find the right fit, just like I did. A risk taken is better than an opportunity lost.

Good luck on your journey!

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João Pinheiro
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