I am not a very social-media-posting person but when I started to
learn coding, one of the first things I did was following
professional developers on the social networks to get some
inspiration, gather tech learnings, career tips and jokes 😉 One of
these dev influencers is
whose social networks content is not only inspiring but also very
interesting and hilarious.
I always feel very inspired when I see more and more women switching
into tech roles, and Anna is one of those doses of inspiration. She
stepped out of her
and switched her career completely
from opera singer to professional developer. Her
story catched my attention and that is why I didn't want to miss the
opportunity to get to know a bit more about her career path and
spread it out so that more people, who might be going through a
similar transition moment, need some inspiration and career tips. So
here we go.
Hey Anna, could you tell me about your career switch? Why did
you decide to quit your job and move to the coding world?
I didn't quit my job but had to leave because I was pregnant
and my husband's (more permanent) job was on the other side of
Germany. That meant I had to leave my position behind and face
up to whether I wanted to continue singing opera forever
(including with the changing schedules, lack of security,
potentially constant travel, etc.) all while having a child,
or if I wanted to look for other options. I knew that I wasn't
being intellectually challenged or growing to the best of my
capacity, and I wanted a
where I could make a more direct impact on the world.
How would you describe your “getting out of the comfort zone
process”? Was there any moment that you looked back and
thought “I am crazy or why am I doing this”?
Not really! It made perfect sense for me to try to do this,
since I had some programming experience from being a kid so I
knew it was possible.
How did you learn to code? Which resources did you choose?
Did you have a mentor?
At first I learned via
The Odin Project,
which is a free web development curriculum with a focus on
written content. I personally find that if I try learning
through videos that the knowledge kind of passes over me, so I
liked being challenged to really read and process information.
They also had a Discord community which had someone in it I
unofficially felt was my
but it was never formalised. I then used what I learned
there to help me in a real-world web development course, a
1-year, full-time (32 hours a week) course. Due to COVID it
had to happen online only, but the head start from The Odin
Project was extremely useful.
Is there anything that you missed during your learning time
and wished you would have had or someone would have advised
I think I would have liked to have learned more about the
backend, but then again it was a web development course so it
made sense that it was more frontend focused.
is something I speak about a lot because I dealt with it all
the time in opera. I think working in that industry (where
people are constantly pointing out every tiny thing you're
doing wrong, all day everyday) really hardened me to take
criticism in a way which not many people can. In particular, I
view gaps in my knowledge (and people pointing them out) as a
blessing, since that shows me where I need to put my time and
helps me prioritise. We can't ever know everything in tech, so
we all have gaps. Impostor syndrome is, to me, the feeling you
get when you have to face that you don't know as much as you
thought you did. That's a GOOD THING in this industry, because
it forces you to keep learning, and you must always keep
learning as a programmer.
Never and always. I had a lot of professional experience
outside of tech (and opera) from my early 20s, so I knew I
could contribute a lot to the team and learn super quickly. I
knew I could jump into a development job and I would paddle
and eventually learn to swim. At the same time though, the
level of technical experience required often scared me off job
ads and so on that level I didn't ever feel qualified. That's
why I always recommend people apply to any job when they are
comfortable with 50% of the job criteria.
Are there any interview tips you could share?
Accept that you're nervous and work out what your own
personal 'nervous' habits are so that you can pre-empt them.
For example, if you tend to rush to answer questions before
fully thinking them through, you can keep a glass of water
next to you and force yourself to take a sip whenever someone
asks you a question: this actively slows you down.
The other major tip is to practice talking about yourself
and answering common interview questions to camera, then
watch it back and try to work on your 'performance'. It is
hard to do and really uncomfortable, but a bit of practice
goes a long way to easing nerves.
So far, so good! My company has a 'training unit' where
people like me (with no backend experience, for example) can
be trained up to be full-stack engineers. That's a real
blessing and has helped me a lot. I feel like the company is
really investing in my success.
What is your current role? What do you like and dislike the
most about it?
I am a software engineer and trainee tech lead for our
training unit (mentioned above). I love being able to help so
many (30+) developers every day with their coding problems,
and since I love bughunting it can be very satisfying. I'd say
my least favourite thing is the code-switching that is
involved. Since I'm helping others so much, I don't often get
to dive deep on a coding problem.
What would you say/advice to someone who would like to switch
I'd say that you should play to your strengths: find what
parts of tech excite you and focus on those. There are
specialisations for every type of person, you just have to
find your niche.
What would you say/advice to someone who starts to learn
Choose one programming language and stick to it. I see a lot
example, all at the same time. If you can really focus on one
language and learn it super well, the other languages will
come a lot easier further down the line.
Have you ever regretted your career switch?
Only in that I don't get to perform on a stage: I'm hoping
that when conferences are held in-person again that I'll be
able to help that desire by giving more talks, presentations,
Your favourite tech meme
Your favourite quote
If you would like to know more about Anna or need any software
development career tip, you can´t miss out her amazing content!