A Woman Navigating the Tech Industry | WWCode Member Journey

A Woman Navigating the Tech Industry | WWCode Member Journey

Written by Akiko Green

Member Reflections

If you had asked me 10 years ago if I could see myself coding, I would have laughed and said, “No way, I’m not smart enough for that.” Some days, I still feel that way, “Hurray, imposter syndrome.” In all seriousness, I would have walked away in doubt of the idea of coding. Even the idea of doing math makes me cringe. So, to see myself as a woman in tech would have been farfetched, to say the least.

Four years ago, the global pandemic hit unexpectedly. I couldn’t finish my degree, my job at the gym shut down, and the only thing that came to me was, “I just want so much better for myself.” That’s when I made the leap of faith to learn how to code. I woke up at 7:00 AM almost daily to research, practice, and write. 

Fortunately, this was not the hardest part of my journey. The hardest part was building a structured plan to make this a career. That’s where Flatiron School came into play. Visiting their site at WeWork, going to info sessions, and working hard on their pre-work motivated me to apply for their boot camp opportunity. This was by far the biggest 360 I’ve ever experienced.

For six months, the routine was eat, sleep, breathe, everything code. From learning Ruby as a frontend and Ruby on Rails as a backend to learning Javascript and React to complete the full stack application requirement, there were days when I wanted to give up on this journey. The imposter syndrome kicked in at least four times a week. However, I pushed through and finished my final project as best as possible.

Through this journey to becoming a software engineer, I have learned so much about how I can navigate the tech industry. I have learned that connecting with people online and offline can get you far when it’s done genuinely. As someone with a background in food and hospitality, reaching out to people to have chats with comes easy for me because of how curious I am. Interestingly enough, if I weren’t the outgoing person I am today, I would have never received my first coding apprenticeship at Bitwise Industries or participated in my first Woman Who Code Hack Night event some time ago.

I learned that the tech industry is only sometimes what you know but who you know in the industry. Growing up in a big city like San Francisco has opened many opportunities for me to engage in tech-related things. Fortunately, tech opportunities for women and people of color are growing daily. Organizations like Women Who Code and Code Tenderloin have allowed people like me to thrive in the tech industry.

As a woman pursuing a tech career, I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions through interviewing, rejections, and unexpected opportunities to work or contribute. What I love most about this journey is the women of all walks of life providing advice on how they have obtained their careers in tech. Hearing stories of their struggles and successes navigating into their current role is inspiring. 

As of now, I am in the “figuring it out” stage of my journey. With the current status of the job market, software engineering is on the back burner of my priority list. Fortunately, staying in groups on LinkedIn or Slack, connecting with engineer friends, and listening to podcasts help me stay up-to-date. Reflecting on my journey, I am reminded that every setback is an opportunity to grow. I am confident that my determination will lead me to success in the tech industry.