Optometrist then, Web Developer now
A younger version of myself would view this content with jealousy.
To that individual, I would say: patience and keep working hard. Good things will happen if you just keep going. I promise you this.
Before I continue, I want to thank all of those who supported me along this journey and were instrumental in getting me my first job in the technology world — you are very special to me.
The pill to swallow is a slow and painful one. After a few job changes, I realised optometry wasn’t for me.
I went into debt for this career; I dedicated a large portion of my life to this career.
Is it possible for a person to change their stars? I wanted to hope.
After trying a few things, I discovered programming and fell in love.
The journey began learning Python through a textbook, Automate the Boring Stuff by Al Sweigart, but what skyrocketed my motivation and skill was building personal projects.
Combining your interests with programming provides a context to learn (i.e. I need to implement this feature: “How do I do that? Guess I need to look is up”, rather than force-feeding yourself with facts that you will easily forget).
I’ll talk about my personal projects in a future post, but here is my GitHub if you would like to browse.
The key is, and I’ll repeat it again and again, personal projects over tutorials. That being said, don’t avoid tutorials — they are useful to gain knowledge but don’t rely on them as a sole learning resource.
We often think our work isn’t good enough to put online or that others will completely trash our thoughts and ideas.
To be successful, we must be willing to put ourselves out there and risk looking stupid in front of others.
That is what I did.
I would post about half-done projects and openly discuss my struggles in the career as an optometrist.
No negativity came from it apart from what I thought about myself. Yes, I did think what I was doing was embarrassing but no one put me down because of it.
Thanks to the content I was publishing on multiple platforms, someone saw it. It led to a referral, a series of interviews, and then a job.
I spent a large portion of my time and energy in the last three years trying to obtain this goal of a career change from optometry into the technology sector.
Now, that I have achieved that goal, I feel that the same fire I had in my belly is slowly going out.
But I don’t want that passion to die. It’s another fear of mine: to lose the love of what was once loved.
Here, I’m left with a fork in the road. One road is becoming the best web developer/programmer I can be. That means giving talks, leading a team, teaching and inspiring others.
The other road is leaving my mark on the world, creating a start-up that provides some positive impact in some way.
And this current job acts as a vehicle for both roads to be taken.
I finally got a role in the technology industry. It took three years of building personal projects and presenting them online for the world to see.
I was lucky enough that this caught someone’s eye, to then get an interview and then be given a job.
With that goal achieved, I look for the next challenge on the horizon — creating my own mark on the world or becoming the best at the profession I can be.
Use this story as an inspiration of your own, just stay focused.