My Career Pivot Journey (from Speech Pathology to Tech) Part 2: I’m In!
This is a continuation of my story on how I quit speech pathology to venture into tech. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can read it here.
Step 1: Do A Coding Bootcamp
End of July 2020, during a global pandemic and being in Stage 3 & 4 lockdown in Melbourne, I decided to join a full-time intensive bootcamp which was conducted 100% remotely. I was nervous yet excited about learning new things. I did not know what I could achieve in 9 weeks but I kept going and gave my 110% in whatever came my way. I even raised my hands to gain project management skills as well! Even though it was all new and I have put myself through such uncomfortable situations, I am glad that I pushed myself to new limits and came out the other end stronger.
In my 9-week bootcamp journey, one of the milestones we had was to build an app for one of our ideas. This involved thinking of an idea, pitching it to our colleagues and finally assembling a superstar team to build it out. I took the opportunity to build an app called Hussl (➡ Watch my pitch on Hussl here 🎙), which was basically the Product Hunt for ideas. I wanted to build a network of like-minded people and to connect with the future entrepreneurs and technologists of the world. Unfortunately, building network efforts really isn’t as easy as I thought it was and did not take off the way I intended it to (cue Reid Hoffman).
Le Wagon has provided me with such great support and such a wholesome experience where I was able to learn the fundamentals of coding, learn how to work and communicate with others in a development team, learn how to manage a project and lead, learn how to pitch my ideas and know when to iterate. Most of all, I have gained valuable friendships and a tech community of people from diverse backgrounds who had the common goal of upskilling/changing careers. But one of the missing components was the absence of networks of people who are already in the tech/startup industry.
Step 2: Finding My Tribe through Startmate Fellowship ✨
TLDR: The fellowship was amazing!!! Network + confidence + knowledge = unstoppable YOU! 🤩
Despite Hussl not working the way I wanted, fortunately, I came across this programme called the Startmate Fellowship.
The Startmate Fellowship is a pathway for talented women to find their sweet spot in a rocketship startup.
When I initially read this 👆🏻, I didn’t know what it truly meant and I didn’t know exactly what I signed up for. I found myself signing up anyways, went through the blind application process (didn’t receive the email initially but found out last minute that I made it to the next round) and after their 10x10 interview roulette, I was successfully selected as 1 of the 100 women in the Startmate Spring20 Fellowship cohort, out of ~600 applicants. But now having lived the experience of the Fellowship, I would say it is the best decision I’ve made, especially when I considered to seriously take the leap into tech/startups as my full-time gig.
Throughout the Fellowship, I have met the most amazing and ambitious women and leaders in the ANZ startup ecosystem who constantly inspire me and push me to want to do better each day. I’ve sat in on AMAs and Employer Spotlight sessions with startup leaders like Melanie Perkins of Canva, Kate Morris of Adore Beauty, Paul Bassat of Seek/Square Peg Capital, Didier Elzinga of CultureAmp, Craig Davis of Sendle, Jack Zhang of Airwallex and so many more from SafetyCulture, Qualtrics, Finder, Secure Code Warrior, AWS, Deputy, Tempus Partners, Who Gives A Crap, Dovetail, Eucalyptus, Antler etc! My favourite sessions were the ones whom I identified with – Women and Asian. Being a minority and seeing people who are like me succeed in building something bigger than themselves is so inspiring. Ever since learning about startups, it inspired me to be a founder one day and it’s great to witness what today’s founders look like — not too different from me. The stereotype of Silicon Valley founders — charismatic, charming, rich were destroyed as I joined this programme. Founders come in all shapes and sizes. Besides that, I’ve also taken a sneak peek into the various roles in the startup ecosystem (e.g. venture capital, product management, operations, sales, growth, finance, people etc) and what they are like.
In the last two months, I’ve made amazing networks, friendships and I will never forget the Startmate family (family of cheerleaders 📣) that I am now a part of. The fellowship has taught me lots about the art of asking questions and networking whilst learning what it means to truly follow your passions and finding a role/company that is right for you. Be confident in the values you bring — you are amazing!! Celebrate all wins! I am so grateful for Startmate and their mission “to actively create opportunities for women from diverse backgrounds and experiences to enter startups, whilst challenging our community to think differently about where their talent comes from”.
And that’s two months of the Startmate Fellowship. Two months of learning and self-discovery. Two months of inspiration and hustle. Two months of the “Startup MBA”.
Step 3: Coding + Network = Opportunities
For the last piece of the puzzle, I had to figure out how to utilise my newfound coding skills and my existing networks, to leverage into opportunities in tech.
Job hunting —I know what you’re thinking, it’s the worst right? It can sometimes feel like you are trying to fit into every company’s mould or constantly trying to prove your worth. Hiring/job hunting is a two-way process and it has to feel right for both parties. Know your worth! Job hunting is a learning experience where you learn resilience and just like building a product, you’ll continually learn new insights leading to the need for further iterations (Read some articles about running your career as a startup here, here & here). I’ve learnt that if you are purposeful and intentional in your job search, the interview process comes natural and that you can be yourself whilst succeeding in getting a role that you want at a company that fits you.
In hopes to make a full career pivot into tech, I’ve networked and experimented with different ways of finding a job — recruiters, cold messaging, warm introductions, personal branding and social media strategies (Even got MC Hammer retweeting me lol!). Even though there were rejections and failures in the mix, I’ve never regretted each and every failure/mistake/imperfection as I’ve learnt so much from the conversations that I’ve had with the people I’ve met. Failures have only made me learn faster — as they say, “fail fast, fail often”. Saying “yes” to taking risks and creating opportunities for myself has led to amazing results.
Through the past few months of hustling, I’m so happy to share that I’ve landed my first developer role at HotDoc where my passions in healthcare and tech intersect. I am so grateful and excited about this opportunity! My career pivot journey started with Le Wagon’s full-stack web development bootcamp and continued with the Startmate Fellowship and an internship with a sustainable fashion startup called AirRobe. These experiences have taught me to remove the “what if’s” and “buts” in my vocabulary. If you want it, go for it. Even if you have doubts, say “yes”. You never know what’s on the other side. Just push through and do your very best in whatever comes your way. To be honest, if I listened to my self-doubt and my lack of confidence, I wouldn’t even have sent that cold message and tried to apply to HotDoc. Like the great Michael Jordan once said, “You miss 100% of shots you don’t take.”
Step 4: Reflect & Keep Learning
In summary, I have put together the top 8 things I’ve learnt throughout the last 4 months.
8 things I’ve learnt during the last 8 fortnights
- Find your community — Surround yourself with people who are like-minded and people who will push you to do better.
- Ask for help — People are more willing to help than you think. Seek opportunities to work with others.
- Help others around you, especially those who are in the same boat as you. Add value to others by sharing your insights and your story. Add value by asking questions.
- Say “yes” to taking risks and doing scary things. Opportunities don’t always come knocking on your door, so create opportunities for yourself! Put yourself out there! If you don’t try, there is a 100% failure rate.
- Seek to improve —Have that growth mindset. There’s always room for improvement. Keep reflecting and improving. Keep asking questions.
- Defeat Imposter Syndrome — Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own journey. Stick to your own path and focus.
- Hustle & Celebrate — There’s time to hustle and time to celebrate. Be grateful for whatever is in front of you.
- You keep learning — No one knows everything. Everyone is still learning and there’s always something to learn in every situation.
This is only the beginning of my journey as a developer and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and everyone else I’ve met along the way!
If you are looking to get into the startup ecosystem and finding your dream role there, check out the Startmate Fellowship! I can guarantee that the next batches will only get better!
Shoutout to the Startmate family, fellows and buddies for the constant confidence boost and words of wisdom, and my coach Sophie Tobin for your time, constant support and knowledge transfer!! Thank you to those that have spent time catching up with me in the last few months, I’ve learnt so much from each and every one of you (you know who you are)! 🤗🎉🚀
Thank you for reading my article! If this resonated with you or if you’ve liked what I’ve written, please do reach out and share your story with me. If you think otherwise, please do reach out as well, happy to receive any feedback.