Nevertheless, Sarah Bartley Coded: How I Started My Career

The Cohort
Written by:
Sarah Bartley
Published on:
January 11, 2019

Explore the journey of Sarah Bartley as she delves into her coding career, providing insights into how she kickstarted her journey in the tech industry.

If I could give any advice to anyone about coding, I recommend writing your first line of code. It doesn’t matter if you hated it or your program didn’t work. The goal is to see how you feel when you see your first line of code. Because you won’t know exactly how you feel until you actually write your first line of code.

This is my favorite piece of advice to give anyone interested in learning how to code since this is what happened exactly to me when I started. Although my first line of code was simply a headline saying “Hello World,” the feeling I got when I wrote my first line is what made me realize I found the right career for me.

I began learning how to code in 2015

At the time, I felt lost. I spent nine years in education, teaching reading and math and mentoring high school students in study skills and ACT/SAT test prep. But I felt like I needed to change my career. I just didn’t know what career would be the best fit for me. As I was applying for jobs and getting rejections, I discovered a job posting for Skillcrush, an online education company which empowers women to learn digital skills and find careers they want.

I did apply for the job at Skillcrush in 2015 but was still curious about the company and started to check out their site. I read founder Adda Birnir’s story and immediately could relate to her inspiring story. I decided to sign up for the Skillcrush newsletter and began working my way through the e-mail exercises the next couple of days. At the third day, it was time to write my first line of code.

At first, I didn’t believe I was ready to write my first line of code

I was still trying to understand some of the terms Skillcrush mentioned in the e-mails. How could I be ready to write any code? Nevertheless, I wrote my first line of code. It was a simple “Hello World”, but the moment I saw Hello World appear on my screen I felt amazing. I knew I found the answer I have been trying to find.

After that moment, I wasted no time and immediately signed up for Skillcrush’s 10 Day Bootcamp. I did more research about coding and learning how to code. I reached out to them and talked to customer service reps about blueprints. By the end of the bootcamp, I enrolled in the web designer career blueprint in August 2015 and began learning how to code.

It has been almost three years later and today coding has transformed me into a completely different person. I’m always trying to learn as much as I can as I code. I’ve achieved lots of success from receiving a Grow with Google scholarship to being selected as a speaker for the Moms Can Code virtual summit in April. I primarily work as a freelance Front End Web Developer. However, the biggest accomplishment of which I’m the proudest is finally finding the confidence I knew I always had inside me.

Coding is an ongoing journey with ultimate highs and lows

Right now, I’ve been freelancing as much as possible to build my portfolio as I look for my first technology on-site job. However, I encourage all developers to enjoy the journey. I didn’t just learn what a function is in JavaScript or the right way to float elements in CSS. I feel I’ve learned a lot more about myself as well as how to code.

One of my favorite workout trainers is Jillian Michaels. During her workout DVDs, she offers the best advice that can help anyone accomplish any goal. When things get tough during the workouts, she always encourages people to remember your “why.” If you know your reason “why”, you’ll tolerate any “how.” I like to think this is how amazing women in tech like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and even Adda Birnir told themselves to continue coding.

As a woman of color in tech, your reason “why” is the most powerful thing that will help guide you along your coding journey. I see a lot of amazing women in tech who do amazing things. The common trait all these women have is they always keep in mind why do everything they do. That reason why is what lets them build amazing things and add to the women in tech story.

My advice for the allies supporting women and non-binary folks who code simply starts by sharing these stories

There are tons women and non-binary folks who code and their stories need to be shared. By sharing these stories, we can help inspire others to code or simply just get started finding the missing piece they have been looking for.

Women, POC, and other underrepresented communities in tech can apply for our Access Scholarship here:

Apply to App Academy:


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