I am a boomer, born in 1957.
When I was about 12 years old, my parents got caught up in the social changes of the ‘70s. They sent me off to live in a commune co-founded by a family friend. Shortly thereafter, my dad died and my mother told me not to come home. I never attended high school.
I married at 21 and had a baby that same year. 11 years later, another baby joined the family. By then, my eldest son Lou was playing around with BASIC on a PC Jr -- he is now CTO at Code for America. Jake, the youngest, is now a freelance writer who moonlights as an ACT tutor.
When Lou was getting close to graduating high school, it bothered me more and more that I had no education. So I went to the nearest technical college and took the GED test. Once back in school, even just for a day, I wanted more. The advisor at the tech school thought I would be a good candidate for a “Printing & Publishing” course they were offering.
I am so thankful I did not pursue that dead end job. Instead, I brought a few brochures home to discuss with my husband. We decided that the Computer Science department would be a good fit for me and the most beneficial use of my time financially.
As I made this bold step, it was encouraging to know that my son, Lou, was able to find work programming while he was still in high school. I thought, if he can do it, maybe I can, too. I was nervous, but having the support of both my husband and my son gave me the confidence I needed to step up.
I started out pursuing the PC Tech program at the local tech school. They required us to take a course in programming. We were coding in C++ at the time. Soon into the class, my instructor took me aside and told me I should drop the tech/ networking program and go full on into programming.
He was right! I loved programming.
I found an internship at a local company, then took a job at another — I’ve been there now for 16 years. I started out in Web-based UI development, then moved into back-end database programming, Design and System Integration.
Last year, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer that required aggressive chemo; I was out for 9 months. Since my return, I am in a more Business System Analyst position, mentoring a new development team, and working with the business to focus on how we can best support their processes.
Going back to school after so many years was difficult but exciting. I needed to take a remedial higher math program (which was free) since I had no high-school level math. I am so grateful I had such a supportive family throughout my journey. This career choice changed our lives.
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