Danielle Kelley, July 27, 2017 | 4 min read

I never thought I would complete a coding program.

I never thought I would complete a coding program. Never. It took me almost two years to even apply to TTS & even when I completed the application, I said “WTF am I doing?” The funny thing is… I’m still asking myself this question, but with more opportunities and an acceptance that this is somewhat “normal.”

TTS set the foundation for so much more than coding for me. I spent years trying to teach myself how to code and while that has worked for many successful developers, it just wasn’t working for me. I equally enjoyed both front-end and backend development and even after I’ve completed the program can confess that it’s still true. I enjoy product management, UX/UI research and design, in addition to coding, so I’m still finding a way to combine all of them into one (haha)!

The main reason I wanted to attend Tech Talent South was based on fear.

Yes, that’s correct. FEAR.

It terrified me, I had a tremendous amount of self-doubt and I honestly didn’t think I was smart enough to even complete a challenging coding program. Being in my 30’s, I didn’t want to go back to school and I definitely didn’t think there was much value in going to Graduate school. I’m a forever student, so furthering my education intrigued me, however I wanted to be mindful of what I was investing in.

I remember recording my video interview for TTS. I was in my natural habitat… a small coffee shop in San Francisco. I was visiting a childhood friend and said to her, “You know what? I just need to do this and do this now.” I was so nervous until I actually started recording my interview and talking about why I wanted to do this program. The same reasoning still applies today: I want to be challenged in my career, always trying to be one step ahead, while leading the way for other young women. I want to TRY and make an impact in this world and help others understand that life is scary, strange but worth taking major risks. Risks that make you so uncomfortable, that you have to try a couple of times before you actually do it. Risks that make no sense until you do them. Risks that completely change your life for the better.

So I leapt. I quit my corporate job in Chicago, packed up everything I had and flew to Charlotte. Scared? Yes. Excited? Absolutely. Determined? 100%.

During the first week of class, I had mixed emotions. The small atmosphere made me feel more at ease, but I noticed one thing right away… I was the only woman in my class. While one part of me was saying, “Hell yeah! Girl power! You can do this! Show them what women are capable of!” The other part of me was saying, “Are you sure you should be here? Can you do this? They are all much smarter than you are.” I remember telling this to my best friend and of course she was blunt and told me to get over myself (we have this conversation often). We talked about how this is exactly why women don’t take the leap in this field and why I am right where I needed to be. Doing right what I needed to be doing. So, I walked into class the next day, repeating that to myself. “I’m right where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing.”   

Tech Talent South changed my life in such a short amount of time. I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend this school, but I’m even more grateful for the community I am now a part of. There’s SO much more I want to learn and do, but this has definitely set the foundation for my future.

My advice for potential students and even grads: trust in yourself and truly believe that you are good enough. Self-doubt will be your biggest enemy (trust me, I’m still working on this one) and “imposter syndrome” will come rearing it’s ugly head every now and then. For me it made me question my competence and gets in the way of having confidence sometimes. Just push through those negative thoughts and understand that you WILL fail sometimes. We all do, but you will also gain so much from it, that when you do succeed it will make the path to pursuing your goals, even more rewarding.

Be obsessively grateful and always ask for help when you need it. Remember that you can still be independent AND lean on others for support when needed. It does NOT make you weak or less successful. Surround yourself with people who motivate you and want to see you succeed. Surround yourself with humans more successful than you and who are smarter than you. Your community will be important, so choose wisely.

So that thing you’ve been REALLY wanting to do but keep putting off because “it isn’t the right time?” Yeah… I’m here to tell you that it will NEVER be the right time. Just go ahead and do it now.

Dream bigger… and just start.