My 1 Year Coding Anniversary: From Video Tutorials to Software Engineer

written by Sara Inés Calderón

A year ago I landed at the Ontario airport (outside LA) equipped with exactly two suitcases, one computer backpack and about a truckload of hope. I looked at the mountains, took a deep breath, and said to myself “Let’s do this.”

I had just dropped everything, put my life on hold and flown in from Austin to begin the the Sabio coding bootcamp, hoping that the JavaScript tutorials I had been taking online the past few months, plus my boundless enthusiasm and Sabio’s secret sauce would open the door for me to enter the tech world as a software developer.

I’ll ruin the suspense for you: it worked. I’m currently a software engineer in Austin, Texas working primarily with Angular and C# — both of which I learned through Sabio.

But let me tell you a little bit about how I got there.

One of my favorite sayings is, “La vida es dura, pero es bella,” which means life is hard — but beautiful. So it goes with my coding journey. Some folks’ brains are set up to receive the idea of code better than others, it’s almost a natural fit. To be truthful, I don’t feel like I fit into this category. Nonetheless, I did it, and am doing it, and it gets a little easier every day.

I had just been living in Austin for a few months before I went back to LA, lucked out and found a place to stay with a friend, and began a daily commute to Sabio’s class in Culver City. The days were long: after 8 to 11 hours of coding, I’d go home and put in a few hours of work work, make my lunch for the next day and pass out. On the weekends I’d try to visit with friends and family, and code, and work and try to sleep in a little bit, and maybe do something fun. It was exhausting.

From September to December of 2014 I worked the hardest I’d worked and pushed myself that hardest I’d pushed probably since I was an undergrad at Stanford University. But it was worth it.

Sabio had us coding on day one, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t produce a lot of anxiety because I literally had no idea what I was doing. And yet, I did it.

All throughout Sabio’s training — when I was struggling to understand classes and methods in C#, when I was fighting with the Google Maps API, when I was getting very little sleep at my first hackathon, when I started studying for my tech interviews — I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, yet, when I had two job offers on my plate earlier this year I finally felt like, perhaps, I did know a little.

As I mentioned, I wouldn’t describe the process of switching careers to tech as “easy,” but I would said it was well worth every bit of frustration, nervousness, disappointment and anxiety.

Sabio changed my life by teaching me how to code.

My starting salary was the same as the highest salary I ever earned in media. And after four months I received a raise — so I’m now making the most money in my life — and that’s not even to mention the bonuses I get at my job.

Life is good, tech is good, and Sabio was the doorway to this life.

The funny thing is, although I wrote in detail about the 40 interviews and four months it took me to find my first tech job, I don’t even remember what that stress felt like because I’m enjoying the life I have now so much. I remember the good times, I remember things Gregorio (Rojas, the co-founder and primary instructor) and my cohort taught me, I remember the fun times we had joking in class, I remember the joy I felt when we won our first hackathon — good things. The bad things have faded away over time.

So, a year into my Sabio journey, I have organized a successful diversity hackathon as co-director of Women Who Code Austin (with 90 participants, most of them women, and a majority of winners who were coding newbies), started JavaScript and C# study groups with my friends and co-workers, am working towards certifications and am actively meeting people in Austin’s tech community. I have a new life, a great life, and one that I know will continue to provide financial security for my family and me for years to come.

So when I look back on my year of Sabio, and that first day at the airport, it makes me glad. Not only did I do it, but I’m still doing it, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

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