Monday motivation - How I got into code

A short story of how I went traveling without a plan and came back a developer

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We all need a little Monday motivation from time to time. This week I wanted to share my story of how I got into coding. I think it's cool being able to share something a little more personal and you can get to know me a little better.

I'll try to keep it short and sweet because otherwise there would be a lot to tell and I could on for days 😄.

Here's my personal story of how I got into coding!

My Short Story

  1. Life before code
  2. I had tried and failed with coding before
  3. Making progress
  4. The end of my travels
  5. And to today

Life before code

I was an engineering graduate with a lost passion for the subject. In wasn't until my final masters year that I admitted this to myself but I persevered and graduated well. I no longer wanted to be an engineer so I took some time out to travel and have some fun 🤞.

In April 2019 I left the UK to go to New Zealand on a working holiday visa. I packed my things and went alone. It was the best time of my life and I was fortunate to make so many awesome memories and a few less fortunate ones 😅.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Almost leaving behind my phone & wallet in Changi Airport security
  • Tried surfing and ended up in the doctor's office getting stitches in my head
  • Hiked up as many peaks as possible
  • Worked many cool jobs including:
    1. Hostel Receptionist 👨‍💼
    2. Waiter 💁‍♂️
    3. Maitre d' 🤵
    4. Pine tree orchard worker 🌲
    5. Tomato glasshouse worker 🍅
    6. Kiwifruit picking 🥝

Me on top of a mountain with a landscape view of Nelson lakes behind

I had been working/traveling there for almost a full year when Covid hit. Just before this I started to think about what I wanted to do when I returned. I didn't want to be an electronic engineer anymore. That much I knew.

I'm not sure exactly how it happened but I stumbled on a list of common jobs done by remote workers. In there was web-development which from what I remember was talking about Wordpress.

After a little more digging I thought it looked interesting and decided to try out front-end development for myself. At this point I didn't think it was a realistic goal to be honest. Started with some HTML and I got hooked 😄.

I had tried and failed with coding before

At university our engineering department was a joint department along with computer science. They gave us 2 computer science modules in our first year. Java basics in semester one and C++ basics in semester two.

❌I failed the C++ module and narrowly passed Java

I hated it at the time and it showed in my results. This failure was a big motivation for me this time around and I hope if helps you to know that it's OK to fail.

Just try again! ✔

Making progress

Fortunately I had taken my laptop with me on my travels and so three weeks before New Zealand went into lockdown I started with HTML. I loved it and didn't stop for the next 2 months.

I lived through lockdown in a hostel learning to code for what seemed like 6-8 hours a day. I saw an opportunity to use my time productively so I just went for it. I was thinking 👇

I'm not going to get a better chance to make this change and give it all my time so let's go!

My girlfriend who I met on my travels 8 months prior was incredibly supportive as I made my way from HTML to CSS to JavaScript and I felt like I managed to cover a lot during this time. After lockdown was up we moved on to look for more full-time work which was needed since it was almost 5 months since the last paycheck.

For the next almost 4 months I was working full time from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon on weekdays and part time for an hour or two afterwards on hostel reception. I didn't have much time to code and so I did what I could 🙂.

I would wake up at 5am every weekday to get two hours of code in before I left because I was afraid that if I stopped that I wouldn't come back. I'm so happy I did this because it meant I was able to keep some consistency and managed to retain a lot of the things I learned up to that point.

Some form of consistency is crucial if you're going to be successful.

During this time I also experienced some problems with my laptop and through my own stupid fault I lost all of my practice projects and code from the first 4 months of learning. I didn't back things up and I hadn't started using Github yet. My laptop went down for around three months until I could get it fixed and my girlfriend was kind enough to let me use hers.

Despite the problems I kept on going!

The end of my travels

At the end of September our visa extensions were up and we were forced to say goodbye to New Zealand. If it was our choice we would have loved to continue our travels for a bit longer and see other countries. But it wasn't to be!

We headed back home in what felt like an apocalyptic movie. Transiting through Brisbane Airport I have never experienced such a strange and eerily quiet atmosphere. I went to stay with my girlfriends family for a few months and this is when my coding started to take off 🚀. Now I was beginning to understand things in greater depth.

I got a far better understanding of JavaScript and started learning React, Next.js and several other tools and libraries. I was on fire for these four months. It was my mission to build my own projects including a portfolio so I would have the option of applying for roles.

It was like my own personal 4 month bootcamp 😄.

Unfortunately we also somehow caught Covid and tested positive three days before our flight back to the UK meaning I was forced to overstay my allowed time in Croatia. Fortunately the only damage was to our bank accounts and all else was well.

A few weeks later I made it home safe and healthy two years after leaving and now with a new career path and a love for coding!

And to today

Now over a year since I started coding and I still haven't had a desk to work at 😂. I've learned largely on my travels usually from the comfort of a bed or a couch with my laptop. All because I love what I do.

I'm currently spending some time at home with the family and after this I'll be applying for my first web-development role. I was fortunate to have so much free time to put all my efforts into it and I'm inspired by others who are learning while maintaining full time work and other commitments. You're the real hero 😉.

Now you know a little more about me feel free to introduce yourself below or share something about you. I'd love to get to know you all a little better.

If you would like another read check out my article where I explain in steps how I go about writing articles for my blog My process for writing blog articles with actionable steps you can follow.

Thanks for reading!! 👋

Interested in reading more such articles from Kieran Roberts?

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Margaret Goldman's photo

That's interesting. All the best for your first developer job! 🙌

Kieran Roberts's photo

Thanks for reading Margaret Goldman. I appreciate it 🙏

Kirill Inoz's photo

That's an amazing story!

I would like to visit New Zealand / Australia one day. It must be the complete opposite of the weather in UK. 😆

Good luck with your job hunt! 👊

Kieran Roberts's photo

Before I went I actually wasn't a big fan of the heat 😂. All I can say is you definitely get used to it quickly!

I spent the winters in the warm part of the country and the summers were great. Beautiful place!

Thank you Kirill Inoz

Yogesh Chavan's photo

wow😍. Your journey is so inspiring. Hats off to you 👍

Kieran Roberts's photo

That's very nice of you Yogesh Chavan to say 😅. Thanks for reading!

Eli's photo

Thanks for sharing your story, Kieran. It was very interesting to read about your journey, which is entirely different from mine.
Keep it up!!

Kieran Roberts's photo

Happy to and thanks for reading Eli. We all have very different stories which is awesome because it shows that anyone can do it with the right attitude.

Andrew Baisden's photo

Good inspirational article Kieran Roberts

Kieran Roberts's photo

I'm glad you think so Andrew Baisden 🙏

Modou DIAO's photo

happy to learn where you come from and good luck for your first apply

Modou DIAO's photo

so waiting for the next section Kieran Roberts

Jacqueline Andrade's photo

I can relate so much to your story.. I'm just beginning and the only thing I'm actually focusing on is gaining consistency. I work a full time job that sucks the life out of me.. just trying to keep to keep going as of now..

Kieran Roberts's photo

Just do what you can however little but consistently Jacqueline Andrade. You can do it 🙌.

Pavandeep Kaur 🇮🇳's photo

Inspiring 🤗

Catalin Pit's photo

Now, this is quite a story. I enjoyed reading it!

Well done, Kieran Roberts! 🙌

Potayto's photo

Thanks for sharing your story!

I always like reading other people's stories about how they began their programming journeys as inspiration for continuing my own. I'm glad to hear things have worked out well for you, and I hope they continue that way. Cheers! c:

Kieran Roberts's photo

Thanks Potayto, I appreciate it dude!