Law Graduate turned Coder...
Sandra is one of NEXT Academy's acclaimed mentors. When you join our Part-Time coding bootcamp, you will have a chance to land her as your assigned mentor! ✌️You can meet her onsite or online to support you through your coding journey with us.
Tell us about yourself…
Hello, I’m Sandra. I have a degree in Law and a Master’s Degree in Global Journalism and as you’ve probably realised, I’m not working in either one of those fields. I’m a classic example of someone who didn’t know what they wanted to do with their life and yet, through fate and the wonders of the universe, found herself entering the wonderful world of coding.
What is your background before coding?
I worked in a law firm (not as a lawyer, because I’m a rebel like that) as a company secretarial assistant for almost four long years. As grateful as I am for the experience and to the people whom I met there, I was also drifting along the well-trodden path of monotony. I knew I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life, but I was too comfortable to move. Until I forced myself too. That seems to be a habit of mine: I literally force myself off the path into the terrifying unknown and hope I land on my feet.
What was your coding journey like?
Like your average nerdy girl, I actually had my first foray into HTML and CSS when I was 14 years old and hanging around on online forums. They’re not strictly coding languages but I did think I was pretty cool and savvy at the time. Years later I tried to learn to code by myself but, as an Aquarius and a lofty, airy-fairy individual in general, it was difficult to stay disciplined and I never stuck with it.
I then discovered NEXT Academy through a family member and when I saw how much fun they were having and all the cool things they were building, it was the impetus I needed to quit my job and try something new and stick with it.
What are your thoughts on how people can learn to code and should learn to code?
The internet is a wonderful, wonderful place and the coding community is altruistic enough to give out a lot of free resources and tutorials so it can be a fantastic way of learning.
But, that’s only if you’re disciplined. For someone like me, especially someone totally new to coding, I found that the bootcamp provided me with enough of a structure to instill that sense of discipline within me.
In the end, it’s really up to the individual. There are a great many fantastic developers out there who are self-taught, and if you’re someone who can commit several hours a day to learn by yourself, that’s great! But if you need a helping hand and someone to help you find your feet, you might be better suited to attending a course that provides you with enough guidance and structure.
Any final words of advice?
Everybody feels stupid at first and there are always going to be people better than you. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying something new if you really want it. Everyone started from somewhere and everyone learns differently and at different speeds. Just because you’re not getting a concept as fast as the person next to you, doesn’t mean you’ll never get it.
Learning is a process, not a race. Don’t beat yourself up and certainly don’t let anyone else judge your learning. Just take it all in, the good, the bad and the difficult, and immerse yourself in coding and be gentle with yourself in the process.
You’ll get to where you need to be in your own time.
And if you’re already in the process of learning, well, you’re already a huge step away from where you started.
Message to mentees
Starting something new can be terrifying but treat it like an experiment to help take some of the pressure off of you and you’ll discover the fun and exciting side of learning something new. Everybody starts from somewhere. The only thing you need to do is keep moving forward, keep learning and keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone because that’s where all the magic happens.