I am REALLY new coding. However, I am quickly becoming addicted. Case in point, I should be getting a few things done at my current job, but instead am writing this question. I am eager to get back home and continue coding…or struggle coding anyway.
The question that I keep asking is, will my 13 years of experience in my current job (school psychologist) prove useful at all in pursuing a career change? I can describe why I am looking to make a career change at this stage of my life (37) another time. In short, compassion fatigue and burnout are setting in and I need a change of scenery. However, a lot of website and apps that I want to start creating will be designed to support this field. That said, I don’t necessarily need that to be the case either. The more I’m learning coding, the more engaged I become with it. So, have others either experienced or observed individuals coming from other industries making the switch to coding gaining any traction in landing paying gigs because they have a background other than computer science?
my answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Yes, I have observed this but it is mostly people who have come from fields that software developers cater to (for eg. business degree/accounting, medical fields, electrical/mechanical engineering, physics). But no, I cannot honestly say that there is much demand for someone who knows psychology in the software dev fields. (Unless you can go into UXD - user centered design - and maybe research the aspects of that from the human psychological perspective?)
Having said that, I hope you realize that the field is very complex and varied and there are roles for people from different backgrounds who are able to ‘think outside the box’ and problem solve creatively and in their own unique way.
Soft skills are extremely important for professional developers. Communication, teamwork, leadership, curiosity, initiative. One of the hardest things when you’re new on a project is figuring out when to ask for help, how to ask for help, and whom to ask for help. I strongly encourage you to work on those websites and apps that you mentioned early and often. This isn’t because the subject matter will be all that important to potential employers, but because you will be passionate and excited when you talk about your projects in an interview and that will leave a strong impression.
When you include your 13 years of experience on your resume, try to write all of your bullet points as illustrations of the skills and traits that you have that will make you a good employee and good team member. If people ask why you’re changing careers, I think that the very brief answer you gave is perfectly good “Compassion fatigue is setting in. I still care about this field, and that’s why I work on <your personal project(s)> in my free time”.
I’m a beginner myself and have worked in a variety of completely different fields. I’m not sure if people have been hired in dev jobs specifically because of experience in other fields. However, the general tone of your situation reminds me of Dylan Isreal. He has a youtube channel you’d probably get a lot of value from. He has also put together some video tutorials for freecodecamp. He’s very focused and generous with his knowledge and comes across as a very down to earth guy.
Personally, I’m 36 and have been living in Japan for nearly 11 years. I came over here from Seattle WA with basically no professional skills, no degree, no savings , no language skills and no job. I now have 3 children and a small business but am looking to make a career change.
There are so many stories of people getting into coding in their teens, 20’s, 30’ and 40’s and probably older and completely changing their lives. One thing I’ve learned from my own experience is that it’s not exactly about where you start out but how well you can continue to move forward toward your goal. We can rarely affect the direction of our lives with the work we do in a day but, then again, the work we do in a day , day after day, can accumulate and completely change where we’ll be this time next year, in 5 years, 10 years and beyond. In the meantime, it is all too easy to struggle with the urge for things to have improved already, for you to have that job already and for things to generally just be the way you want them to. I’ve struggled with that a lot. And I’ve found the best thing you can do is to channel that energy (even if it’s manifesting as doubt) into taking action; ANY action, even if it’s just browsing posts here on the forum or reading some code. The fact that you are asking questions here speaks of your drive and having drive makes all the difference.
I can’t believe how much my life has changed since moving to Japan. I can now speak and think in a second language and have gained so much independence and freedom in becoming an entrepreneur. But I still yearn for more and I miss my home. So, software engineering seems like the most realistic and timely way to start things happening. It’s also really fun and creative, too.
Keep going and don’t ever give up. You will get there.
I wish I could double and triple like this and keep it with me everywhere I go as a reminder of good sense!
Thank you all so much for your input. I apologize for my delayed response. I just finished building a new home and moved in a few days ago. The last week has been exciting but crazy.
Regarding my post, I should clarify that I wouldn’t anticipate anyone hiring a developer who couldn’t code just because they have some other experience. I suppose they could use them for consulting regarding content or something, but certainly they would be useless as an actual dev. However, I’m wondering if, once I get reasonably good at coding, that I might have added value to a company that produces educational software or something.
At any rate, thanks again for your answers. I’m starting a routine of daily coding and have simply decided that rather than try to hammer out a million hours of code in a few months, I’m going to try to get about 10 hours in per week or more for a couple years or so. That’s not to say I might not adjust that if I get a little time off (I get a month in the summers). For now though, that’s a pill I can swallow between work and family responsibilities. The crazy thing has been how much I’ve enjoyed the little I’ve done so far. Looking forward to the journey. Thrilled I found this ridiculously warm and supportive community.