How Katherine Celada invested in her career with SheSharp's New in Tech Scholarship
SheSharp: Katherine, thanks so much for taking the time to do an interview with us! Can you tell our community a little bit more about yourself?
Hello, my name is Katherine. I am Colombian but I currently live in Spain. I studied
business administration in college and although I enjoyed my previous job in hospital logistics, I knew it was not something I wanted to do forever. Recently, I had entered a new phase in my life where I had different priorities and new aspirations, so at the end of 2021, I began to consider a career change.
I reflected on the things that I liked about my previous jobs: what were the things that
mattered to me in a career, and what were some of the things that I was good at doing.
After this I researched some careers and talked to some people in those professions. One of the careers I was considering was software development.
I know some people who work as developers, so I had a vague idea of what their work consists of. Programming was something that I was curious about but never thought about it as a career option for me. Part of me felt that I was not smart enough or it was kind of late for me to learn. However, I realized that the opportunity cost of trying to learn programming was low -- after all I could start learning for free from home with the many courses available online and see if it was something that I liked it or not.
For a few months I was studying while working. When I went to college I had a part-time
job so I figured I could do the working and studying combination again. I found that it
was actually fun to learn something new again However, I realized that I would be able to transition into a new career faster if I spent more time studying, so in the middle of this year I
decided to quit my job to be a full-time student. This was a really tough decision for me. Part of me was sad and anxious for the uncertainty and the changes that this decision brought
to my life, but another part was happy to have more time to spend learning
SheSharp: It sounds like you weighed up a few options before landing on software engineering. What inspired you to start a career in tech?
I had several reasons as to why I wanted to explore this. I think working as a developer requires you to always be learning and updating your skillset, which is something I like since I enjoy learning about different topics and prefer jobs that are not too repetitive or predictable. I believe that by having the opportunity to work as a developer, I will be able to use my curiosity and creativity to try to solve problems.
I also like the fact that working as a developer you work with very different people, from
designers, other developers or marketing people. I like having the team dynamic of people who have their own motivations and goals but work together to create a new product or functionality.
In addition to this, with the lockdowns and having had the opportunity to work from
home, I realized that it was important for me to have a job that offered this possibility,
and in tech there are many roles that are hybrid or fully remote. I believe that this
career allows for more financial stability and flexibility than other options I was considering.
SheSharp: I know you mentioned that you were recently a student. How long have you been in the industry? Can you tell us a bit more about your journey to get where you are today?
After studying for a few months with online courses and tutorials on YouTube, I realized that perhaps it would be beneficial for me to enrol in a more structured program. I think you can learn programming on your own, but one of the main drawbacks is that you are the one responsible for structuring your learning plan, and sometimes you can feel a bit lost about what to focus on next. It was for this reason and because I couldn't afford to pay for a bootcamp I decided to look for free courses.
A friend recommended that I check out the courses given by an organization called Code First Girls. I decided to apply to their Nano Degree Program and after passing their selection process, I have a seat in their 2022 autumn cohort. So far it's been a very intense course but I am learning a lot.
SheSharp: You're a recent recipient of our scholarship - I'd love to know more about what you put the bursary towards and how you applied what you learned to your career?
Thanks to the scholarship that SheSharp granted me, I was able to access resources that I would not have otherwise considered accessing: either because of economic reasons or because I was unaware that these courses existed. These courses have helped me a lot in my learning process. For example, to enter the Nano Degree Program that I am taking now, you have to pass a technical test, and thanks to the courses that SheSharp financed for me and the knowledge that I acquired in them, I was able to take that test.
When I complete my Nano Degree, I would like to delve into some additional courses that SheSharp has recommended to me as well.
SheSharp: Before we wrap up, do you have any advice or lessons for women entering the tech industry?
Before I started this journey, I didn't realize learning to code was going to be such an emotional experience. This process has been rewarding at times but also very challenging. Learning all this takes time, effort and discipline so try to be patient with yourself. If you get really stuck trying to learn something take a break or move on to something else for a while and try to use multiple resources if you’re stuck on one concept. I would recommend applying what you are learning by doing coding challenges or building small projects - don't be surprised if those things takes you longer than expected though, as this is all part of the process!