Priscilla Luna was first drawn to the thriving tech industry in Austin, TX. She began learning to code online, but imposter syndrome took over and she decided to put coding on hold. Fast forward 3 years and a long list of jobs later, Priscilla still hadn’t found the right career fit for herself. She had quit her job and moved to Oklahoma City where she was a stay at home mom of young twins. Even with limited free time, she decided to seize the opportunity, overcome her fears and return to coding.
As a full-time mom, Priscilla had to be incredibly organized and fit learning into her day whenever she could. She had to be driven and determined, but the hard work paid off with her completing the Treehouse Front End Developer Techdegree program. 6 months later, Priscilla is now a contractor working full-time as a Front End Developer at Teleflora and loves what she does every day.
We asked Priscilla to share her inspiring story and valuable advice with other aspiring developers.
What first encouraged you to learn to code and pursue a career in front end web development?
I became intrigued with the tech world several years ago while living in Austin, Texas. Austin is brimming with creatives and innovative technology so I started noticing the role tech played, the importance of that role, and how exciting web development could be. I ended up taking some online courses but I had the nagging fear that I wasn’t good enough to be a “coder”. I didn’t fit the stereotype, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t enough of a nerd, etc. I enjoyed the courses I took but I didn’t have the confidence at the time to really go for it… I didn’t want to fail!
Fast forward 3 years and I had gotten married, I was a Mama, and I knew I was settling in a career path that I wasn’t passionate about. I would talk about my desire to learn web development, start taking courses, and get overwhelmed and fearful all over again. It honestly was the combination of my Husband believing in me and the structure and guidance that the Treehouse Techdegree provided that gave me the push I needed to just go for it. I clearly remember my Husband said to me, “Sure, you could fail. But you honestly have no idea until you go for it. You could love it.” I decided to not let fear dictate my life and I went for it… and I’m so thankful that I did!
What work were you doing when you first joined the Techdegree program?
I was a stay-at- home Mom when I first joined the Techdegree program. I had quit my job 4 months prior due to moving from Texas to Oklahoma and welcoming twin boys into our family! In the past, I have kind of been all over the place with my work. I have worked at a coffee shop, been a Nanny, worked in finance, taught ESL in Taiwan… and the list goes on!
As a full-time mom (of twins!) how did you integrate learning to code into your everyday life?
Treehouse played a big role by making the courses easy to absorb, all the while having complete faith in my ability to learn and complete the projects. And it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t give some credit where credit is due… coffee! I’m a little ashamed of the copious amounts I drank during those months.
The twins would nap and I would learn! The kids would go to bed at night and I would work on a project. It’s honestly a little crazy when I think back to that time… I had a lot of drive.
How has your career evolved since learning to code? We’d also love to hear more about the work you’re doing now.
When I first graduated from the program, I started putting my resume together and figuring out what the web development job landscape looked like in OKC. I took on freelance projects to practice and continue learning, some I did just for the experience and some I charged for. I spent six months applying for jobs and doing freelance work (which I got mostly through word of mouth) before I was given a great opportunity with a wonderful company.
I am now a contractor working full-time as a Front End Developer at Teleflora. I spend most of my time building websites for our clients, Florists, to showcase their work and receive orders in order to grow their business. We integrate our code into templates so our clients can manage most of their site themselves on our platform. I have grown a tremendous amount in the last 2 months since starting this job! I am so thankful that Teleflora gave me an opportunity to gain this valuable experience.
What has the value of a Treehouse education meant to you?
It’s honestly been huge. The Techdegree program provided structure and organized the content in a way that made sense. Since spare time was sparse when I was learning, not having to spend time figuring out what to learn next was an important part of the equation for me. The support, code reviews, and encouragement I received from mentors and fellow students via the Slack channel was also so motivating and helpful. Being able to learn Front End to the degree of being employable after learning has allowed me to help provide for my family of five and given me the gift of really loving what I get to do every day.
Being employable after learning has allowed me to help provide for my family of five and given me the gift of really loving what I get to do every day.
What have you found the greatest challenge while learning to code?
For me, it was the fear and insecurity that held me back from learning to code in the beginning. The tech industry is becoming more diverse and that is so exciting but there is still a lot of stereotyping involved. Being a woman in tech can have its challenges but it is also an incredible opportunity to be part of evening out the scale. That fear and insecurity still creeps up at times and I wonder if I’m good/smart enough to be successful in this field. But then I remember that I love coding and every day is an opportunity to continue to learn! I choose to not be intimidated and instead take every opportunity I can to grow as a Developer.
Being a woman in tech can have its challenges but it is also an incredible opportunity to be part of evening out the scale.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with students who are just starting to learn to code?
First off, don’t let anyone (even if that anyone is yourself) tell you that you’re not “the coding type”. If you love it and you have the desire to learn, then give it your all and go for it. Also learn how to problem solve well. A project could seem impossible if I looked at it as a whole but once I started breaking it down into baby steps, it wouldn’t seem so daunting.
First off, don’t let anyone (even if that anyone is yourself) tell you that you’re not “the coding type”. If you love it and you have the desire to learn, then give it your all and go for it.