Catastrophe & Becoming a Front End Engineer

Adversity is often a catalyst for transformation. In 2016, taking on the role of provider for a parent exhibiting signs of early onset dementia was the greatest challenge of my life. Facing the process, as well as subsequently losing my dad to health complications from the disease, has fundamentally changed me as a person.

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Things that were a big deal before, seem so insignificant now. Fears that had held me back were now invisible. New fears emerged, while others disappeared.

As we face this tumultuous time of quarantine, stress, and uncertainty, I hope that you are finding a new strength inside you that you didn’t know you had. When my dad became my dependent, I was making ~$50,000 a year (it may sound like a lot, but it wasn’t enough to rent my own place in the Bay Area or sustain both of us). It was a scary time and I was very lucky to have my older brother offer to live and care for our dad while I scrambled to transform my career and my life.

So I had two choices:

1) Find a higher-paying stable job
2) Learn a new skill and pivot

For most people, option one seems like the most reasonable and it did to me as well. I sent out my resume and interviewed at Airtable, Poshmark, Coursera and Quora, companies that I admired and saw myself fitting into the culture. Education and philanthropy have always been at the forefront of my moral compass. I had an amazing time visiting and interviewing with these companies. I was treated kindly and made it through most rounds of the process, but I was still inexperienced. I also think my stress was showing. One of the worst times to interview is during a period of stress, anxiety, and desperation. I was oozing all three.

Needless to say, I didn’t find a job that could pay me more than my then $25/hour wages.

I made a radical choice. I gave myself one year to go from an hourly contractor in tech to someone who could financially support my family. I applied to ten different coding bootcamps, interviewed, prepped, and looked for every single tech scholarship I could find. It took a lot of my rapidly dwindling courage to choose this path, but I had little left to lose and a lot to gain.

I can attribute two mantras to my success:

Failure is not an option and this time I am not going to quit.

I had peers learning how to code alongside me, who would wonder what they’d do if this didn’t work out. Those trains of thought didn’t make sense to me. For the first time in my life, I understood the value of fully believing in success. I wasn’t being naive. I was, for once, fully trusting myself.

I hope that during this uncertain time others are inspired to do something they’ve never done in order to live the life they’ve never had.

My only hope is that you, reading this, are taking steps to be prepared for tomorrow’s uncertainties. I didn’t and I scraped thru with my depleted willpower, savings, and sanity because I got lucky. I was 100% focused on finding luck. Don’t let yourself be blinded by fear.

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Be creative, get digital, and share your gifts with the world.

Love,
Meli

Key resources at this time:
Learn how to code with Stanford University
Digitize your unique value/offerings with Lewis Howes
Keep calm and weather the storm with Headspace
Start your journey into coding with FreeCodeCamp

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Update 3/31/2020: Added key resources to blog post. Ranging from free to affordable to transform lifestyles and incomes.