#StudentSpotlight: Marika Könönen

March 13, 2018

For Marika Könönen - coding mom, blogger, and new entrepreneur - coding is one of the keys that has enabled her to start her own business. Follow Marika on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


What inspired you to learn how to code? 

In the upper secondary school I took one IT class where we built a small web page. That was my first taste of HTML and coding. After working four years in the economic sector, I realized I have to have a proper degree, and it felt useless to start learning the field where I already had been working. I tried telecommunications technology, which I didn't like, but it had a lot of programming courses. At first, coding felt so hard and I didn't understand it at all; how was it possible to solve problems by writing lines in the text file?! It was a huge challenge for me, but I had always loved learning new things and decided to tackle the challenge and become a programmer some day. I changed my major to software engineering and started to learn coding,
What job or career did you have prior to learning how to code? 

I worked for four years as an accounting clerk and accounting assistant. Before that, I worked as a clerical employee, personal care assistant, cleaning woman, production employee, horse stable employee, and product representative. My background is colorful, and I have been looking for my place for a long time. 
How has coding opened up new opportunities for you?

My long-time dream was to become an entrepreneur. I worked for a couple of years in a big company as a software verification engineer, R&D engineer, and software engineer, but I felt I was fulfilling someone else's dream and not mine, which was the reason why I left and started to realize my own dream as an entrepreneur. The basic knowledge of software engineering combined with my experience in the economic sector made it possible to start building our own company. 


Our business is quite small, and I use most of the day to take care of our kids. But I can save a lot of money because I am able to update, manage, or create a web page for our company. Although I'm not an experienced coder, I can teach the basics of coding to children, young people, and adults, which is my business at the moment. Building a blog page, which is important for my business, is also much easier because I have the ability to code. I think if you can code, the possibilities are endless. 
What advice do you have for other moms who are interested in learning how to code?

Don't be afraid of it! Initially, learning can be very difficult (it was for me, too), but you can learn it; everyone can learn how to code. You have to be determined and think about the opportunities that await you. Please, remember to be patient and kind to yourself - learning takes time.

What are ways you stay current? Do you have any favorite websites or podcasts?

Currently, I am doing the #100DaysOfCode challenge, and my topic is web development. My portfolio page project with HTML + CSS + Bootstrap + JavaScript is building one piece at a time. Learning takes time, and I have missed many days, but that is okay. I am following Front End Development Certification of FreeCodeCamp. 


How do you create balance in your life?

I think the balanced life is when you have a loving family and do things together; eat healthy food; do a little exercise to keep you fit; and are able to do interesting work tasks.

The problem is my working days: I forget to eat and just sit at the laptop. My work office is located in our kitchen, and oftentimes I work without breaks, which isn't healthy. In the middle of the working day, I have started to take my dog for a walk. I also plan to start jogging or doing some yoga exercises. When the kids come home, it's easy to keep on track - we go out to play or do things together and eat well.

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