Career Change

Transition To Work: From Single Mom To Computer Programmer

Transition To Work: From Single Mom To Computer Programmer
Considered pursuing a career as a Computer Programmer? This interview takes you through the ups and downs you can expect, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more.This is a true career story as told to DiversityJobs and is one of many interviews with computer technicians and graphic designers. When I was in high school, I did not give much thought to what I would study when I went to college. I always anticipated getting married right out of school and living life as a stay at home wife and mother. However, life does not always work out how you expect that it will, and by the time I was 20, I was divorced with a one year old daughter in my care. While working part-time jobs that I did not enjoy, such as working as a waitress and as well as a telephone operator, I decided that I needed to get a college education to provide the life I wanted for myself and my daughter. It was only then that I put serious thought into what I wanted to study in college. I started college about two years behind my age group, but the time between high school and college that I spent working those jobs made me a very serious student when I finally started my first semester in higher education. I decided that I would major in psychology and minor in English before I even enrolled in school. I maintained my choices of my major and my minor throughout college. However, I did consider other major options, such as a major in architecture and a major in biology. Before enrolling in college, I invested in a career and aptitude testing session and found that my forte was really in the Liberal Arts. With my aptitude test results in mind, I selected psychology as my major and English as my minor. Because I did not develop strong math and science skills in high school, my career options were a bit limited when I entered college. Had I focused more on my studies during high school and applied myself in math and science courses, I would have been much more well-rounded and may have selected a more technical or math-based major. Before graduation, I did search for a job. However, I discovered early on that I was not qualified for any job straight out of college with a degree in psychology. I started turning my focus to attending graduate school. During my senior year in college, I spent most of my time applying to graduate programs and studying for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). I was sure that graduate school was what I wanted. However, I was not immediately accepted into a graduate program and had to wait a year to enter the program due to less than optimal GRE scores. The day I took the GRE, I was completely exhausted and well over my limits. I knew that I had not performed my best during the test, and my scores reflected this fact. If I had it to do over again, I would have gotten plenty of sleep the night before the GRE instead of trying to cram for the test. I may have started studying for the exam months earlier, and I might have considered a contingency plan in case I did not get into the program. During this time off from school, I worked as a bartender in Chicago in an English pub just off Michigan Avenue. I was not a big fan of the job and the work was hard, but I kept my eyes on the prize, saved money, and prepared to enter the graduate program when I was able. Eventually, I ended up learning to program for the Web while in graduate school. This skill took my career in an entirely different direction. I discovered that I have a natural aptitude for computer programming and once I learned programming for Web applications, I found it very easy to learn other languages, such as Java and C. Had I known in high school that I had a natural talent for programming, my choices for a major in college may have been different. When I became adept at programming, I began to seek out jobs in the field. Though I did not know as much as I thought I did, and others were far beyond me with their programming skills, I was able to land a job as a web developer. Money was good, even on the first job. Life for me and my daughter began to get a little easier. By then, she was in elementary school and we were able to start having nice things. If I knew then what I know now, I would have directed more of my energies toward learning computer programming in college. My programming knowledge lacked structure and I could tell that there were deficiencies as the result of my self-taught methods. However, though I didn’t follow my original career path, I really enjoyed my graduate school experience. I would not change the fact that I was able to obtain a graduate degree. However, I do not work in my field of study. I originally wanted to be a professor at a major university, but ended up being a computer programmer instead. Many people have a direction in mind for their lives while they are in college. Oftentimes, however, their lives take a very different direction than the one they have planned. You sometimes discover your true talents and skills in obscure ways, and when you do, follow your heart. Many people work in careers that are entirely different than their field of study when in college or grad school. Life tends to work out, one way or another. Transition computer programmer image from Bigstock
Get Some Leverage
Sign up for The Work It Daily Newsletter