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When and Why I Learned to Code

By Gregorio Rojas - September 5, 2013 No Comments
Anyone and everyone can learn to code. A career in technology can be had by anyone. I cannot say this enough. I will say it and write it every chance I get because there are those that will tell you different. They are wrong.

There are so many things that keep most people away from technology. One of these things is the idea that it technology is not meant to be created by everybody. Everybody can use it, but creating and shaping it should be left to a few. Worse yet, some would dare say that not everybody has the capacity to create technology.

I will quote a great Latina blogger you should be following, @SaraChicaD, and tell you that this is a big load of poppycock!

There are people that would have told my younger self that I had no business and place in the high tech sector. The harsh reality is that had someone told me that, I may have believed them. Thankfully, that did not happen to me. But I see and read stuff like this all the time and I find that unacceptable. Honestly, it is infuriating.

No Exposure

The reason I had never considered technology was because I was not exposed to it. One of my childhood friends had a computer and we played some games on it. It was such a big deal to let us play on it though, that it was just not worth it. Nintendo was much better anyway.

There was no computer lab in grammar school. The computer lab in high school was a room I never entered, never. America Online might as well have been a foreign nation. I did not belong there and I had no idea what I would do if I did make it there. What language did they speak there? I had no idea.

No Skills

I was almost 22 years old before I learned how to check "email". A college buddy of mine helped me set up the Hotmail account I still use today. At the age of 23 I was still using a computer like a glorified word processor. I had learned how to search the web and use spell check. These were two feats that had escaped me during my college days.

My P.H.D - Poor Hungry and Driven

I was doing a job I really loved but it held little opportunity. Like many other immigrants, my parents came here for something "better". I recognized that I had failed to actualize this dream. I was not in a better position than my father or mother. What did that mean about my future? What did that mean about my own family’s future? All this burned me.

But that burning was not enough. I had no way of making it better. I had no plan or path forward.

Exposure + Opportunity

But I was fortunate to be working in a college setting. There were many people around me talking about Computer Science. People I would normally not interact with on a personal level. They talked about the great jobs that were waiting for them once they graduated. It seemed too good to be true. But it was.

That, alone, was not enough. I had no idea what CS was or what those people actually did.

My luck held. I was fortunate in that I was taking a class that forced me to make a dead simple HTML page. I added an image to the page as an over the top move intended to impress my classmates. You would laugh if I showed you this page. My class mates were in awe.

I struggled with that page for nearly 2 weeks. To this day, it has been the hardest thing I have even done in my career. The results were unexpected. Yes, I had a silly HTML page but I also got the idea, just an idea I could #LearnToCode. Behind that idea I saw an opportunity and so I chased that opportunity like a hungry lion chases a gazelle.

Before my 26th birthday, I was "Sr. Developer" for a start up in Los Angeles. I was writing code that sent email, built and designed databases and was mentoring junior developers. I was a home owner and I was about to start my first business leveraging the skills I had acquired over the past couple of year.

If someone asked the question, “who are we going to get to fill these high tech jobs we cannot fill?” Any 23 year-old with my credentials would have been summarily dismissed by most people then and today. Even by many promoting STEM.

This is why Sabio was created.

Anyone and everyone can learn to code. A career in technology can be had by anyone. If someone tells you something different, it’s a load of poppycock.


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