How I Changed Careers from Culinary to Web Development

Hello! I’m Emily!

Emily Brooks Headshot

Welcome to my first blog post. Rather, I should say “my first blog post as a web developer”. I blogged as a chef and recipe developer for a number of years (find proof here!), but I put that project on hold when I decided to make a career change and enroll in a front-end developer program.

I never planned to blog as a person in tech, however, I recently started my first job as a developer and I am experiencing so many things that I think others on a coding or career change journey may benefit from hearing. It occurred to me that a blog would be a great place to share these experiences.

To start, a number of people have reached out to me on LinkedIn asking about pivoting into tech and Skillcrush, the program I used to make the leap. So, that’s what I’ll share about today.

Truth be told, this is not my first career change. When I was 2 years out of college, living in Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Certified Public Accountant certification under my belt (yes, I passed the CPA exam!), I decided accounting was not the path for me. I just couldn’t imagine that career being my life for the next 45-ish years. Long story short, I enrolled in culinary school in Denver and 9 months later was interning in New York City.  Talk about a whirlwind.

Needless to say, this time around, life in my early 40s was very different from my early 20s.  I was living back in Michigan and I didn’t want to relocate; nor did I want school to become my full-time life again. I wanted to keep working so I could pay my bills (ie. mortgage, health insurance, groceries – you know, all that adult stuff!), and I absolutely did NOT want any school loans. No Thank You, Ma’am!

My Life & Learning Needs

As I started researching, a picture became very clear as to what criteria were most important to me and my current lifestyle that would make this new venture possible.

  1. Affordable
    • I did not want to take out loans or drain my savings. I needed to pay for this within my current life budget.
  2. Online and Self-Paced
    • I needed to learn on my own time. If that meant late at night, early morning or over the weekends, I needed to be able to log in anywhere at anytime.
  3. Structured Learning
    • While I wanted to learn at my own pace, I did not want to design my own curriculum. With all there is to learn in the world of web development, I knew I could not discern the priority of topics to study. I needed a program that would map out the best things to learn and in what order so I would be hirable when I completed the program.
  4. Real People
    • Lastly, I needed real people to interact with. I knew questions would arise and confusion would set in. At those moments, I wanted to ask questions of real people I could trust and who knew what I was working through. In other words, no random on-line forums where anyone can reply no matter their knowledge or social skills.

Well, I found one program pretty quickly that met ALL of these criteria. The Break Into Tech program through Skillcrush!!!

Folks, I admit, enrolling in the Skillcrush program was one of the least over-thought decisions I have ever made. In fact, I would say hardly any overthinking went into it. As a chronic over-thinker, this is a big deal!

Why I Chose Skillcrush

Having clear criteria in mind, I recognized very quickly that Skillcrush was the right fit. Here’s what convinced me:

Firstly, I found the overall price for Skillcrush to be comparatively affordable to other programs. Plus, with the monthly payment plan option, I was able to incorporate the payments into my monthly budget, so it felt financially risk-minimal. *Note: at the time, there was no Get Hired Track, so I was only paying for the Break Into Tech program. Later, I enrolled in the Get Hired Track upon finishing my classes.

Secondly, I took their free coding camp as a trial run, and I loved the videos and the way the material was presented. I also loved that I could access it anywhere anytime. It immediately felt engaging, informative, and accessible.

As for the curriculum, I could see straight away that the Break Into Tech bundle had a specific learning path. Bingo!

Skillcrush’s Break Into Tech Tracks

Finally, Skillcrush listed so many ways to engage with real people. Their Q&A sessions, mentoring sessions, and ability to email instructors at any time were exactly the types of connection points that I was looking for. I could also see that I wouldn’t just have access to instructors, but other students on the same journey as me, too. Brilliant!

As For the Extras

A few other bonus details that made Skillcrush an even easier decision to make:

  • Inclusivity – Skillcrush not only welcomes everyone from all walks of life, but supports and believes in them, too. As a woman making a mid-life career change, I knew I would need all the help and encouragement I could find. It’s also important to me personally to immerse myself in diverse and supportive communities so I can be part of the change and not just live in my own bubble.
  • Lifelong Access – no matter what happened, I would always have access to the BIT classes, so I could keep learning for as long as it took. I hoped I wouldn’t get sidetracked, but who ever really knows what life will throw at them? (Ahem! World Wide Pandemic!) It felt risk-free to have an open-ended finish date.
  • Bonus Classes – Skillcrush has loads of material and extra classes to help round out a developer’s (or designer’s) skillset. I loved that I could cherry-pick these bonus classes as I figured out more about my path and what I wanted to focus on.

All in all, I feel very grateful for all the staff and students at Skillcrush. The Break Into Tech program delivered amazingly on all my needs. The Get Hired Track ended up being a wonderful, unexpected extension that absolutely helped me secure my first job, too. Eventually, I’ll write specifically about my job readiness that came from the entire program. (Stay tuned!).

A Little Advice

As I listed above, my criteria was pretty specific. Your criteria may be totally different. If you are reading this and considering something similar, my advice is to sit down and think about your personal criteria. Consider things like scheduling, finances, location, your need for real people and structured learning, and so forth. From there, searching programs will be more effective as you more easily see which programs align with your needs.

Of course, if you want to bounce any thoughts off me, or have any questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to me via my Connect form. I’d love to chat with you!

Thanks for reading!

NOTE: this is not a sponsored post. All opinions and experiences are my own, and I do not receive any incentives, payments, or commissions for linking to Skillcrush.

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