Can you tell us a bit about your education and career background?
I come from a non-technical background. I have a Bachelor of Music in performance on bassoon, and I've spent the last decade working largely in administrative and team support roles in London, UK, but I've always loved making things. I performed at my best in the workplace when I was crafting something, designing graphics or compelling document layouts, and my workplaces recognized my skills in that area.
I realized that I wanted to pursue a different career path, and decided to try something completely different. Three years before starting the Web Development program at BrainStation, I left London for rural France and started my own small business in the form of a craft beer bar, built with my own two hands in a barn. There were things about running the bar that I absolutely loved – liaising with local Brewers and Artisans, crafting something all my own from the ground up – but ultimately the reality was that running a bar in the middle of nowhere was unsustainable. By then, I knew what I wanted to do next – I had taken a chance on an Intro to Web Development night class to gain enough skills to make my own website for my bar, and I found that I loved to code. It had all the problem-solving, detail and design-oriented thinking, and creative energy I was looking for. I decided to take my biggest leap of faith yet and moved home to Canada after more than thirty years living abroad, and enrolled at BrainStation.
Why did you choose to study at BrainStation?
While my education was non-technical by choice, this was not the case for my family; my father has been a Software Engineer for longer than I've been alive, and I have a Web Developer and a Data Scientist as younger brothers. Of the two of them, the Web Developer lives and works in Vancouver and has a lot of experience with graduates and Educators in a number of different bootcamp-style programs in the city. I asked him for advice on where to enroll, and he recommended BrainStation as the best in the field.
What motivated you to switch careers?
I was in a period of career transition, looking for something with more creativity and challenge than my roles in administration, and more financial security than running a rural craft beer bar. I had already had a taste of Web Development from taking an introductory class, and I was encouraged by my more experienced tech industry family members to take the plunge.
How would you describe your learning experience at BrainStation?
It was an intense three months, I often felt like my brain was whirring far too fast for my body to keep up, but I can't believe how quickly I progressed and how confident I feel in my abilities now. Not only have I built a strong foundation of knowledge in the field, but I've also learned how to keep teaching myself, how to continue to progress and adapt to an ever-changing industry.
What was the highlight of the Diploma program?
Winning the BrainStation 3D Hackathon with my team was an amazing experience. We worked very hard that day, and it was incredibly rewarding just to be done with the project and have a working product to show off. On top of that, being announced as the winners made me feel on top of the world.
What was the most challenging part of your learning experience?
For me, the most challenging aspects of the program came from within. I found that when I couldn't find a solution to a problem quickly, I let my imposter syndrome get the best of me and started thinking "If I can't solve this, I can't be good enough to do this for a living!" Luckily the education team and my fellow students were on-hand to help me work through whatever problem I was stuck on, and to show me that trying solutions that don't work is how we learn.
I'm going to be entering an industry where the only constant is change, and knowing that I have the tools to change with the times is invaluable.
What would you say were the most valuable skills you learned?
More than any specific programming language, I think the most valuable skill I'll be taking away from my time at BrainStation is the knowledge of how to learn to code, how to build on my existing knowledge and adapt to new technologies. I'm going to be entering an industry where the only constant is change, and knowing that I have the tools to change with the times is invaluable.
What advice would you give to professionals considering a BrainStation Diploma program?
The world is only getting more and more online, so if you're thinking of moving into the world of tech, I'd say go for it!
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