When I started learning how to code, I never intended to make a living from it. It was just a fun thing to do with my daughter.
When she was about 4 years old, I found a book in the library about Scratch projects for kids. We had a lot of fun working through it and built simple things like moving a princess around the screen and a shark chasing game. Scratch uses drag and drop coding and is a fantastic way to introduce children to logical thinking.
I took away from that experience a new interest in building things through code that sparks joy and imagination. My first experience with coding, a C++ class in university, absolutely did not make this connection and caused me to mentally rule out programming as something I would ever enjoy.
I started teaching myself HTML after my children went to bed. The sites I made were painfully basic, but I was becoming addicted to using code to build things. I committed to #100DaysOfCode and started working through the freeCodeCamp curriculum for at least an hour every night. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to Skillcrush’s Break into Tech program and my skills and confidence absolutely exploded because of that.
Transitioning From Just Learning to Making Money From Coding
At this point, I finally started feeling like a real developer and could start charging money for my work. I started freelancing while continuing my night-time studies. It was an amazing experience helping my clients move from a vague idea to an actual website. But honestly, I wasn’t very good at marketing myself or charging what I’m worth and it was more of a hobby than a job (jobby?).
After about a year of my freelancing jobby, we went through a situation where I needed to be making real money right now. I applied for dozens and dozens of developer jobs, basically anything based in London that asked for WordPress experience, which was probably my strongest skill at that point. I went on about 6 interviews and was finally offered a junior dev position at a cryptocurrency startup.
Alhamdulillah, I still can vividly remember how I felt when they offered me the job. I was making dua for relief from a difficult situation for many months, and I felt absolutely sure that this was my way out. It ended up being more like a stepping stone to the relief.
A Delay Is Not A Denial and Setbacks Exist To Show Us What We Need To Learn To Move Forward
There were a lot of red flags once I started working there. Not to go into any specifics, but the culture made me feel anxious, overwhelmed, and just generally ethically uncomfortable. And omg the working mum guilt. I went from being with my kids all the time their whole lives to only seeing them 2 hours a day and all of us as a family were just falling to pieces. It was really rough. I learned a lot while I was there, made a lot of stuff that I feel proud of, but I started making job applications again within only a few weeks of starting.
Alhamdulillah, the experience I gained from the cryptocurrency job, and the general positive attitude and growth mindset I’ve cultivated over the 3 years I spent learning were what got me my current job at HappyPorch. I’m very happy there, the culture is so positive and encouraging, I can work from home and on my own schedule, my skills have really taken off, and I feel comfortable telling people that I’m a developer without any imposter syndrome whispering in my ear.
Now, I did all of this without really knowing anyone else on a similar path, certainly no other Muslim women. And it was really lonely sometimes. This is why I started Tech Sisters. Now that I’m in a good place, I wanted to build what I would have liked to have. A community of women who help and support each other. Who know what you’re going through because of your shared values. Who know why something like drinking at work makes us uncomfortable and how to work around that.
Insh’Allah I hope that this is something you would like to see too! I would love to hear your stories on how you got into tech. Hearing lots of stories from our community would be so inspiring for all of us!