Lydia was looking for something to do, having recently made the decision to quit her job as an administrator in a psychiatric hospital. “I was feeling very frustrated with that position,” she tells me today. “After a few years there, I sat down with my boss to discuss where my career could go, but neither of us could see any prospects for development. Or at least none that satisfied me.
“My degree was in business administration, so I could not lead an actual research project – the only future for me was as an assistant or an accountant. And the hospital structure was just so rigid. I wanted to optimize processes, to streamline how we did things, but everything kept getting blocked by bureaucracy. It felt like having walls pressing in from all sides.”
Unhappy and uncertain what to do, Lydia stopped working in February of 2021 and began looking for a new vocation. In an effort to do something that would bring joy and good health to the lives of others she first tried working as a Yoga instructor, but soon found that teaching wasn’t really for her.
She took up bike maintenance, purchasing an old bicycle from the 1970s, taking it apart and reassembling it, and discovering in the process a pleasure that in certain ways foreshadowed that of software engineering. She gave a shot at sewing, then at crafting mala chains and selling them online – all activities that she enjoyed, but which also involved working all alone.
Only after that fateful day in the countryside of south-western Germany did Lydia finally feel like she might have found the inception of a new career. It was not just the fun she felt while completing those first few courses on Codecademy – it was the fact that the job description seemed tailor-made for her.
“I was reading all these articles and testimonies online about what skills make a good developer. How you need a logical mind and must be good at problem-solving, but also have empathy and good teamwork. And I felt like this was exactly where I belonged – like at last I had found the perfect fit. Now I had to find a way to get in there.”
There are, of course, several paths into the world of tech, but Lydia had no hesitations about choosing the bootcamp format. “It was important not to waste too much time. And I was interested in the practical, professional side of coding, not so much in the more abstract theory that is a big part of university courses.”
And so, in February of 2022, Lydia signed up for the WBS CODING SCHOOL Web & App Development bootcamp. “It was the best set up for me. I liked the idea of working comfortably from home, but this course also included 3 weeks of working together in person, on campus. This was something I really wanted – the possibility of getting in touch with people, of working hard on a project together.”
For all of Lydia’s passion, however, the bootcamp was unquestionably a challenge. “There were some days when I really struggled to understand the topics. I remember this one time when I was given a problem and I really wanted to solve it on my own. I spent an hour thinking, trying, reading the documentation… and in the end I had to ask the instructor for help.
“That moment was hard to swallow, but it helped me understand something that my brother also explained – that it’s normal for developers to get stuck on a problem. And that it’s ok to ask for help. So I learned to accept the frustration. Not everything was always clear to me, but it didn’t have to be, and true learning came with time.”
Indeed, her patience eventually paid off. As she worked with the school’s Career Services to refine her CV and her LinkedIn profile, Lydia was initially feeling anxious (“I was scared of rejection,” in her own words) but it took only 3 applications to receive her first job offer as a developer.
And so, her journey from a job that felt like a dead end to the beginning of a brand new career is now complete. “I feel it’s a bit of a pity that I didn’t find out about coding before,” she says meditatively, looking back. “Growing up, programming isn’t something that is typically presented to girls as a possibility. Nobody ever told me that this was something I could do, and so when I was younger I never tried.
“At the same time though, I can now take all of the things that I learned before I entered tech, and use them to start this new adventure in my own way, with my personal skills. And that’s a good thought to have going into the future. This is going to be fun!”