The tech industry is booming, and that growth doesn't show any signs of stopping. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of computer and information technology jobs will grow 11% from 2019 to 2029.
Despite this, mothers remain an "under-utilized talent pool" in the tech workforce. Women only held a quarter of the jobs in the tech industry as of 2016, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. These roles can be even more demanding for moms, who often take on childcare and household chores in addition to their paid work.
Despite these obstacles, many mothers are taking control of their careers and making their mark in the tech industry. Take Carrie Schmid, a mother of two who made an about-face in her career path to pursue a coding career after enrolling in the Epicodus bootcamp in Portland. The career switch wasn't always easy, but she worked her way to a stable job with solid benefits.
Keep reading to learn more about Schmid's story and get tips for transitioning into tech.
Meet a Mom Who Codes
In her mid-twenties, Schmid began her career as a journalist at a daily newspaper in Longview, Washington. Unfortunately, that industry continues to struggle, and Schmid wasn't spared from widespread layoffs. She then joined the nonprofit sector, supporting immigrant women and promoting public transit. But she felt like she wanted more.
"I have an exploratory nature and the work I was doing never required me to take deep enough technical dives and push boundaries," Schmid said. "The idea of shifting to a brainy field with good job prospects really appealed to me."
By this time, Schmid was in her mid-thirties with two children. The tech field felt like it would provide a stable career, and a coding bootcamp seemed like it could help her make a career switch without forcing her to commit to earning a college degree in computer science.
The Epicodus Bootcamp Experience
Schmid chose Epicodus — a bootcamp based in Washington and Oregon — largely because she had a friend who had already enrolled. The bootcamp offered an internship opportunity and job support, and Schmid thought it would be a good way to get her foot in the door.
But Epicodus also came with its own set of challenges. The bootcamp follows a pair programming model, which means that students buddy up and essentially become each others' tutors.
Balancing motherhood with her bootcamp was also difficult.
"Programming, more than anything, is like learning a foreign language. There's vocabulary, syntax, and concepts that only make sense once you dive under the surface," Schmid explained. "So pair programming can at times feel like trying to learn Spanish with a conversation partner that doesn't speak the language."
Balancing motherhood with her bootcamp was also difficult.
"It was an emotionally tough time for me. I was crying a lot. I think my kids were confused. But I talked to them about it and I think they understood," Schmid said.
In the end, Schmid was rewarded for her self-reliance and ambition. The bootcamp set the bar high, and she reached it.
Life After a Coding Bootcamp
Schmid didn't find her job immediately after graduating, however. Schmid landed the tech job with New Relic about a year after she finished her bootcamp.
First, she spent about six months completing two React Native development internships. These experiences helped her build a professional network and gain hands-on experience before she found her full-time role.
"Epicodus did offer job placement, and it was great to have a partner in the search," Schmid said. "They helped me identify a strategy and always passed along job leads. There are a lot of Epicodus grads in Portland and the school has a good reputation."
Although her current position doesn't provide any special benefits for mothers, Schmid says New Relic values a balanced lifestyle and offers generous paid time off and health benefits. She also acknowledges that her supportive partner is currently providing most childcare.
Tips From a Mother Who Codes
When Schmid began her coding journey, she felt self-conscious about her age. Although just in her thirties, she was one of the oldest people in her program. She was worried this would hinder her job search, as well.
"I just told myself, 'good programmers are valuable at any age,'" Schmid said. "So I knew if I could be confident, everything would be OK."
In fact, Schmid found that going into tech with previous work experience was more of an advantage than anything else.
Schmid found that going into tech with previous work experience was more of an advantage than anything else.
"The best advice I got in code school was from a teacher who said something like, 'there is such a thing as aptitude, but people make it in the field because they work on it,'" Schmid said.
In other words, some people may have a better propensity for coding than others —but that doesn't necessarily equate to success in the industry. Hard work and dedication are important, too. "Lately, I've thought having brains is synonymous with having the willingness and opportunity to take on tough challenges," Schmid says.
Plus, Schmid says, "your kids will think you're awesome."
Frequently Asked Questions About Transitioning Into Tech
- Are coding bootcamps worth the investment?
Whether a coding bootcamp is worth it depends on many factors. Think about your specific circumstances, such as your budget, schedule, and other responsibilities. Also consider factors specific to each bootcamp: Does it offer job placement help? What percentage of graduates find jobs? Will you learn the right tools and languages for the career that you want?
- How do I get into a bootcamp with no tech experience?
Many bootcamps accept applicants without any tech experience. However, if you're interested in a bootcamp that expects incoming students to have some foundational knowledge, you can enroll in a bootcamp prep program — many of which are free.
- How much money will I make in the tech industry after graduating from a bootcamp?
The BLS reports that web developers and digital designers earned an annual median salary of $77,200 in 2020. However, your salary potential after completing a coding bootcamp depends on several factors. Your location, specialization, and previous experience all matter significantly.