This is my adventure.
This is my adventure.
Mom’s Learning To Code9 min read
Thanks for stopping by. I’m feeling pretty alone right now so your company is welcomed. You see, I’m an old lady about to embark on a career in tech. I’m really not old, I’m only 53 which is 43 according to Oprah, but when it seems like everyone else in the tech world is in their 20s, 53 IS old.
So what drove me to take the plunge into tech? There are several but the two that stood out were the need for me to upgrade my skills as a web designer and I needed to make more money. I realized that working as a freelance web designer was not going to pay for my share of two college tuitions. I’m divorced and while my ex contributes towards our kids tuition and the divorce settlement allows me to work from home and be there for the kids, the money train doesn’t run forever.
My career has been a hodge-podge of working in several industries all with a sales and marketing focus but like many women of my generation, when you got married you either had a career or you stayed at home and raised a family. My then husband’s career was the focus and I was happy to take on a supporting role. I worked but it was to pay for my hobby of owning and competing horses, something I had done my entire life.
When we started a family I stopped working so I could take care of our kids and the household while continuing to ride. If you are a horse person you’ll understand the addiction that comes with horses. I was riding high literally on my husband’s career success and getting to live the lifestyle that came with it. There was never a moment that I thought life would be any different from what it was. Except that was a fairytale.
It’s like Shakespeare; everything is perfect then BAM something bad happens. Or maybe since I’m Irish, it was a Eugene O’Neill tragedy waiting to happen.
Shit happens and in our case, a lot of shit happened in a short period of time and much of it out of our control. One day, the fairytale ended and it was not a happy ending. Thankfully, we parted on good terms but I was now on my own for the first time in my life and with two kids. I lived at home with my father until I married at 26. Does anyone even do that anymore?
If there is one part of my life I wish I could have a redo for, it would be to make sure I always had a job and my own financial independence. I never realized how risky it is to put your financial security in someone else’s hands because you never know what can happen.
Divorce did come with one awesome freedom though; the freedom to make my own choices on how I wanted to live my life. I was determined to achieve my own financial independence but I decided it was important for me to be home for the kids. Even though they were both in high school, I felt a lot of guilt over the effect the divorce had on them.
So I came up with a four year plan where I would work from home and build a business for myself. I had been designing websites as a side project the last few years I was married along with developing a brand of tack for horses that was having success. I decided I could do both and make the income I needed.
Except the tack business became a cash drain. I began having issues with the manufacturer and I couldn’t source another one that could make the products to my specs and quality standards. That meant selling down the inventory and closing the business. I had a steady business designing websites and providing marketing services, but over time the growth of DIY website builders like Wix and Go Daddy meant more people than ever could design their own website. That and the number of offshore companies offering cheap web design services was starting to cut into my business.
I was feeling like my difficulties were payback for getting to live the life I had in what I now called my previous life, but I was optimistic I could create a business that would enable me to work from home and be financially independent if I just kept trying. A friend and I came up with an idea for an e-commerce business which was a great endeavor but it began to show me where my skills were lacking when it came to technology. We needed to scrape product data from the websites of the sellers who were our customers. I found myself needing to outsource the work and being frustrated because the data I was given wasn’t always accurate. It meant spending many hours manually correcting the data and comparing it to the websites to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.
Well, the business was not going as planned because the initial data that we based our income projections on wasn’t completely accurate and the large target audience we thought we had, became a very small one. I read somewhere that you have to fail your way to success and I was doing a great job of it. So where did success lie? The one thing I noticed from this last venture was the importance of data. Both the need to access it and the need for it to be accurate. I knew what data I needed but I didn’t know how to write the script that would retrieve it.
I knew I couldn’t continue down this road if I didn’t fill the gaping holes in my skillset.
Enter my friend Kim. Kim is one of those super smart, geeky tech people. She works out of her house and does quite well working for a startup. I’m not the best at asking for help but I was getting tired of failing and I knew I needed to find something different workwise, and soon. So one day over lunch and a few cocktails I asked for her thoughts. Thankfully, Kim didn’t think I was crazy and she was more than willing to help me.