It’s May of 2014. I graduate with a degree I don’t care about (Automotive Marketing & Management). I have a million and one business ideas that I can’t do much about (at least that’s what I thought at the time). I am infatuated with technology (from a business perspective), but have limited knowledge of the tech space and no relevant work experience. I am basically a “nobody”. How could I possibly find a way into the world of tech?
I had one idea that really stuck out, but it required technology to realize. My goal became twofold; build my own product idea and get into the tech space. Did I want to become a web developer? No, but I’d do whatever it took to get in. Enter HackerYou (now known as Juno College of Technology). I began taking their part time Web Development course in January 2015. All the while, I commuted from Belleville to Toronto 2 nights a week. This eventually rolled into their full-time course, which I started in July 2015. I was learning to code.
Throughout my time in the course, I realized I wouldn’t be able to build the application on my own, I was going to need to get more experience to go further. Around this time, I was looking for a roommate to move in with, my sublet at the time was ending. After graduating from HackerYou, I saw an ad at a Starbucks for a ‘Roommate Mixer’ (similar to the image below). I loved the idea. I showed up only to learn it was being put on by a company called Apartmate. I met the co-founder at the mixer (Hi Sarah!) and asked if I could work for her for free. She thought I was kidding and told me to follow up with her. I followed up with her that night with my resume and I started the following Monday.
My first day at Apartmate (co-located in Project Owl at the time) was awesome. It was my first time in a co-working space and I was surrounded by hungry entrepreneurs and technology teams. Apartmate was Sarah (who ran everything non-tech related) and Nikhil (who ran everything tech related). My time was split between the two of them. Here I was getting exposure on the business side of things, as well as keeping my coding skills intact. I stayed for 4 months and I learned how not-so-glamourous startups were. I loved it until I hit a point where I felt like I wasn’t learning anything new. Plus, I had my own idea that I wanted to work on.
I applied for The Founder Institute and told myself I’d only do it if I won the technical fellowship. I won the technical fellowship. My start date was January 2016. While I would go on to successfully start my first idea (we’ll let that lay where it is), I am now sitting in the tail end of 2020, leading my own company that I started with one of my best friends (whom I met in tech and worked with at 2 different companies).
Looking back at it all, I hope my story might help anyone trying to set their own direction with 2 clear lessons:
- Don’t be afraid to try – you can do anything you want, but you can only achieve the things you “do”. You are only going to gain that which you strive for. For me, this began with my 1st and 2nd foray into coding at HackerYou, being opened minded while attending that ‘Roommate Mixer’, going for it at The Founder Institute, and ultimately to where I am now, starting my own company!
- Hustle for it – once you’ve made that conscious effort to go for it, you’ve got to really go for it. Now, I’m not going to tell you to spend every waking hour from dusk ’til dawn striving towards a single goal. What I’m really suggesting is that you think about what you are trying to strive for. If you are truly embodying the direction and goal you have set for yourself, the time, energy, and potentially capital ($$$) investment will come naturally.
I’m not saying you need to take a coding bootcamp to get into the tech industry, but you’ve gotta do what it takes to get what you want.