From PE teacher to Programmer: Libby’s graduate story

By Libby Schumacher-Knight, Dev Academy graduate

About three years ago I started a journey that would change my career from being a teacher to a web developer.

In 2014 I decided that I wanted to take a year out of teaching to learn how to programme, develop websites and overall have a better understanding of what web development is all about.

My reasons behind this were that I couldn’t see myself teaching PE for much longer, due to injuries and a general loss of interest. I wanted to understand programming, HTML/CSS and web development so that I could move over into teaching Digital Technology. I had an increased interest for creating websites/programmes. And ultimately I’d had a very draining year, and wanted to do something that made me feel passionate.

Earlier in 2014 I had found out about Enspiral Dev Academy at a Rails Girls Wellington event.
What appealed to be me about Dev Academy was that it was short — only 19 weeks in total. The first nine weeks of the course were done remotely so I could still work. And the intensive in-class part appealed too — learning with others, learning in an environment that was similar to what it would be like in industry, learning from instructors who had worked in the industry, and the help that was offered with getting a job. All of these things aren’t available in a traditional tertiary training institution, and I liked that about Dev Academy. It seemed to do things differently.

It was quite a journey at Dev Academy and I wrote about it here:

I had an amazing time at Dev Academy, learnt a huge amount and discovered people who are passionate about life and changing the world. It was and is exciting to be part of the ever growing community that is Enspiral Dev Academy.

In a post I wrote about two years ago I said,

“It will be intriguing to see where we all are in the years to come and how much of a positive impact we have made on the tech industry as well as within other areas of society, particularly education.”

Already, two years on, there are a number of exciting things that are happening. Dev Academy has opened in Auckland; Kendall Flutey (from the first cohort) is going great guns with Banqer, and from a recent cohort, three women have started Manu. This is exciting because these women (and other alumni) are starting to have a positive impact out in the world by combining their passions with what they have learnt and discovered at Dev Academy.

I ended up not heading back to teach Digital Technology, which meant I had to decide what I wanted to do next. I started looking for a web developer job in August 2015, and began working at Flick Electric Co in September.

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I was recently asked how I felt Dev Academy prepared me to work in web development. I think Dev Academy prepared me pretty well for my career. I learnt the basics of a couple of languages, a few frameworks, how a web application works and more.

The part that Dev Academy doesn’t cover in depth is the computer science side of software development. Dev Academy focuses on web development, not software development or computer science, so there is knowledge that I lacked coming out of the course that I have learnt since. No matter how you get into the tech industry, you will always been learning and developing, and no one can learn it all!

One of the parts of Dev Academy that I found valuable was the focus on learning. Not just the technical learning but the emotional and personal development aspect of the course. Part of the curriculum includes Selfware. This helps people learn to work together, have empathy for themselves and for others.

With their focus on developing the whole person, this meant there was space and time for me to deal with feelings of being completely inadequate, in over my head and having the biggest case of imposter syndrome ever.

This, I think, is one of the best parts of studying at Dev Academy — learning how to cope with things like failure, stress and being able show empathy to others who are dealing with similar struggles.

Another important skill I continued to develop at Dev Academy was how to keep learning. I think this is an essential skill for anyone these days, but even more so for developers in an ever-changing world. Studying at Dev Academy gave me the confidence to know that I can learn anything, and gave me the resources and skills to help me get there.

The transition from PE teacher to web developer was scary, stressful, exciting and overall extremely rewarding.

Would I do it again? Absolutely!

Dev Academy trains people from all walks of life with the skills to become junior web developers. Apply now for our next intake.