How and why I learnt to code

Blogging has been part of my life since circa 2005. I made the original iteration of this one in 2019, initially to document my journey as a developer, and to practise making a real, live website with a database and everything. Building a blog, rather than relying one of the popular hosting sites, was the perfect way to achieve both those things.

At the same time, as I was starting out on the new terrain of tech, it became obvious that quite apart from actually learning to code and use common developer tools, for me it was going to be a particular struggle. For one thing, my gender was underrepresented in this new industry. What's more, at that point I had around five years of a different career under my belt — a so-called "non-technical" career, at that.

Actually, I never doubted that my experience as a natural-language professional was a strength, but some overlooked or dismissed this. This inspired me to make my blog not just a learning in public resource, but to actively have a mission behind it: to show that two of my passions, literature and programming, might not be so different after all. I firmly believe that we don't need to whittle ourselves down into one category, no matter how disparate those categories might appear at first glance.

I chose to study foreign languages at university, initially because of my desire to access other cultures, but in retrospect, it was also because of my love of syntax, structure, and making tiny changes to a bigger picture. I found that various elements, possibly abstract or random at first glance, could slot neatly into place and effect powerful messages.

We all contain multitudes. Now I build software for a living, but in no way does that mean I'm exclusively a developer. I haven't given up on writing, nor do I no longer identify as a writer. In fact, I believe my continuing writing practice keeps me in balance.

My journey: short version

  • June 2018: randomly took part in the annual Django Girls workshop in Berlin (a Saturday that changed the trajectory of my life, though at the time, I wouldn't have guessed this at all)
  • October 2018: got a job as a content manager of a Django-based site with one of the workshop's sponsors, a software development agency, while still freelancing as a translator/editor/writer on the side
  • March 2019: with the encouragement of a colleague/friend, started studying Python in earnest and building my own Django apps
  • October 2018: decided I wanted to switch careers, started to bug my employer about it
  • April 2020: did a part-time Python course for a couple of months, costs partially covered by employer
  • September 2020: began as a junior software developer in the same company