Why did you decide to learn software development?

This is my first assignment for Flatiron School’s blog requirement.

I answered a similar question in a post featured here recently on why I began coding. The answer remains the same. It took me 23 years to realize that I enjoy problem solving. The same satisfaction I felt in AP Chemistry in high school when getting an equation correct is how I feel now after completing a lab on Learn. How I felt in anticipation of a science fair is how I feel now anticipating a hackathon. Software development, for me, is the perfect combination of logic and abstract thought. There’s clear logic in software development for there to be a ~correct~ way of doing something, but there’s also room for creativity that allows for the correct way to be one of many.

I was also stuck in jobs that were making me very unhappy. Jobs where I was not at all enjoying the work I was doing nor the environment I was in. With software/web development I am gaining skills that will allow me to have flexibility in what I do and where I can affect change. I want to build tools for social good. Doing meaningful work is important to me but has always felt like an impossible luxury. As an INFP, the excerpt in the career section in this personality test is spot on: “…Where INFPs will not thrive is in a high-stress, team-heavy, busy environment that burdens them with bureaucracy and tedium. INFPs need to be able to work with creativity and consideration — high-pressure salespeople they are not. It can be a challenge to avoid these roles, as they are the basis for so much starting work, and it’s often a risk to break away into something less dependable, but more rewarding. To find a career that resonates with INFPs’ values though, that’s more than just a job, sometimes it’s just what needs to be done.”

But I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that as a black latinx woman, I have never once felt safe, respected, and accepted at a job (or in life, really). Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc — institutionalized oppression of all sorts — are present in every industry. Woven into the fabric of this society since the beginning. Tech is no exception. I won’t pretend that it is. I deal with depression, anxiety, (and in professional settings — isolation) which are largely due to my experiences as an afrolatinx woman. It’s heartbreaking that my excitement, along with many other members of underrepresented communities, about learning this skill has to be tainted by this pervasive, systemic ugliness. I won’t stop talking about it. I won’t stop speaking out against it. When you’re cash poor* and marginalized it’s not always an option to quit a job because of the aforementioned. At a past job, I reported an executive many times for sexual harassment and intimidation and was told by HR: I could quit or accept his apology. What 21 year old with thousands in school loan debt can just quit when they have little to no experience in the workplace as is? Every new job was me escaping a prior one. Software development, I hope, will make it so that I never have to be in those situations again. If I need to quit, I can and try elsewhere. I hope I never have to choose between my sanity or a paycheck again. Freelancing is an option that before I never would have thought as something I could do. And please note: All of these contingency plans are ridiculous. The fact that they are needed is ridiculous. No one should have to quit or jump from job to job because they aren’t being treated like a person. Tech along with every industry, should care about and be working towards being diverse AND inclusive.

Most days I am very excited about the possible things I will work on and help create. Other days, I feel depressed and consider that maybe I am making a mistake. I am still in the very beginner stages and my learning experience so far has been great overall. I have found the thing I love and enjoy and I just wish the industry loved me back.

“I know this: I am not my job. I am not my industry or its stereotypes. I am a black woman who happens to work in the tech industry. I don’t need to change to fit within my industry. My industry needs to change to make everyone feel included and accepted.” — Erica Joy, The Other Side of Diversity

*I like Didi Delgado’s definition of cash poor and it is what I am referring to in this instance.