A fork in the road

Or a way to explain why I’m learning to code

I’ll admit it: I used to participate in math contests in high school. I didn’t think much of it back then, I was just generally a well-rounded student. In Ontario, where I grew up, we started planning our career plans right out of grade 8 when we chose our classes for grade 9. By grade 10, you had all your required Science classes. By grade 11, you fulfilled the provincial requirements for Math. I was good at both but Life or Something Like It, my favourite movie, had convinced me to pursue communications so I filled my schedule with all the English classes available, kept a spot each year for French and added Music instead of free periods. I went on to study Communications and Political Science in English and French at uOttawa, earning a double major with honours and exploring the world on a back-to-back exchange in France and Singapore. I didn’t think about math or science for years.

Sometime in late 2013 coding peaked my curiosity. Since then I’ve noticed all the ways that knowing how to code can enhance almost any career and consider it a skill on par with speaking English. I took my first class in 2014, a Ladies Learning Code session that had us create a webpage with HTML and CSS. This wasn’t my first time using HTML, I had learned a lot from Neopets, a web-based game where you could use HTML to customize your personal shop. The workshop was boring and I didn’t actually learn anything so I shelved the idea. Sometimes I’d revisit it, like the time I took part in a datajournalism bootcamp put on by some friends at WLUSP.

This year, I found myself at a fork in the road, and while I normally suspected it be between marketing and sales, I saw smarketing and coding. At last, I’m really learning to code. So why did I tell you about high school before I told you about learning to code? Because I could’ve easily gone into an engineering career and I regret not seeing it before. The truth is, I didn’t know enough about possible careers in STEM because no one ever guided me in that direction the way I was guided towards writing and languages. My French teachers would praise my accent, my English teachers would push me to write clearer. I don’t remember ever having that encouragement from my math and science teachers. A movie showed me a role model I related to in communications but never in STEM. It’s only been in the years working at startups that I’ve met and worked with these role models.

I’m learning to code because I like solving problems and I like creating new things but I’m also doing it to be part of the change in an industry that’s been male-dominated for too many years. I’m excited and I can’t wait to show you all the new things I’m learning!

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A fork in the road