From nutrition to the coding world
By Rita Lança
I have always liked science and wanted to understand the functioning of the human body. I always looked for information about health, diets, and food composition in my early teens, although not always in the best sources.
My interest never stops — understand how food can prevent diseases and improve peoples’ health became a goal, and the practice of healthy eating with exercise became a lifestyle.
I got my nutrition degree in 2010, and I had the opportunity to work in different realities — hospital, nursing home, nursery school, and gym.
As a nutritionist, I faced several challenges such as:
- Clients’ expectations— often wanting an easy way or quick results.
- Education— I faced many times all the environmental and family beliefs about diet and exercise that make education and behaviour change more difficult.
That time it was ok. I was learning and growing… At one point, I started to feel stagnant, bored with the same routine, and too comfortable in the place where I was. Professionally I felt devalued, limited and I didn’t think it would improve.
I love nutrition, but I start to miss something more — I needed to learn something new, challenge myself…
My twin sister, who is also in the coding world, was always trying to pull me into the IT area. She knows me — I like logic, I want to learn, I like studying, but I am not a geek girl, and I never had any interest in computers or informatics.
As decision-making came closer, it started to raise all the uncertainties about the future, regret for leaving a passion I fought for and all “ifs”:
- and if I am not able to learn to program?
- and if I don’t like it?
- and if I am not good enough to get a job?
If I let go of who I am, I become who I might be
From nutrition to the coding world
The moment I decided to embrace this area, I promised myself that I would forget about nutrition for a while, to be open-minded that new information was coming. I enrolled in a java academy where I had my first contact with programming. I was motivated to learning new things and soon had my first job as a developer and step-by-step doing little things.
Long story short, nowadays, I’m a web developer at Xpand IT, and I am currently developing a new website for a big Portuguese bank, a reference in innovation & technology.
Here is a retrospective: my challenges in this area are constant. At first, everything was new and complicated — I had neither the knowledge nor the vocabulary to keep pace with my colleagues. Today my challenges are related to the fact that there is so much to learn. When facing a challenge, developers need to be able to solve problems and stay motivated. Although it is sometimes stressful, it is rewarding when you see progress and the finished product because you want to do what you know best.
Although proud of my evolution, I still have a long way to go.
If you are thinking to change your career, here are some tips for you:
- Identify “why” you want to change — Is the company? Is the job? What am I missing the most?;
- Assess their values, interests and skills and how they are addressed in the new career;
- Talk to people ewho have the job you want. This will help you know what a typical day at work will be like and identify skills and education requirements;
- Assess skills you must have and ways to develop them— for example: universities, online courses, internships or bootcamps;
- Network — Let people know you. Plus, getting to know that you are looking to change your career is important to catching a job opportunity. You can, for instance, create a LinkedIn account, attend professional associations and networking events, go to conferences;
- Be persistent — Like any beginning, it won’t be easy! You will find obstacles and challenges, keep going and don’t give up;
- Be patient — Each person learns at their own pace, and no one has ever become an expert overnight, so be patient and celebrate every little victory.