When I was 21, I started having doubts about my career. I was 2 and a half years away from getting my BA in Economics and doing well. It’s not that I didn’t like economics, or that I didn’t find it challenging, but I just didn’t feel like it gave me the fulfillment I felt I needed. I thought a career change may be what I should do. But I decided not to do it, and just stick with economics. I thought I was too old to do a career change by then, and the idea of taking first year classes with a bunch of 17–18 year olds just didn’t feel right. Now that I’m 28, the idea of a 21 year old feeling like they are too old for anything feels ludicrous.
Three years later, when I was 24 and a few months into my first real job, I started having doubts again. I didn’t enjoy what I was doing at the time, and felt like it wasn’t right for me. I thought about changing my career again, about getting a degree in Computer Science. Then I remembered the doubts I had had 3 years ago, and realized that if I had made the decision back then, by now I’d almost be done with that degree. I thought about how much I had invested in my career by then, both time-wise and money-wise. I thought about what my peers, my friends, and my family would think. And then, that “You are too old now” feeling came back, so once again I decided to do nothing.
4 years later, after working and learning about investments, financial planning, and even quality management systems, those doubts came back once more; in fact, they never really left, I had just silenced them. I was 28 now, and once again, I thought “If I had made a change back then, I would be done by now, but now I really am too old”. Except this time, I realized that I was wrong. That I had to stop that cycle, and line of thinking. I wasn’t too old back then, nor am I now, nor is anyone really.
You are always the right age for a change, if you are willing to do it.
So I started researching what I’d do now. I knew I wanted to learn how to program, as I had dabbled with it a little in college and enjoyed it quite a bit. I tried to learn on my own for a while, but between work and other responsibilities, I never seemed to have enough time to really commit to it. I eventually heard about bootcamps from a high school friend that I hadn’t talked to in a while. He had gone to a bootcamp in Seattle for a UX course. He talked marvels about his experience and strongly recommended it to me. A fast-paced environment with a focus on newer technologies seemed like the perfect fit.
As I continued my research I realized that there were many options and variables to keep in mind when choosing a bootcamp. Location, tuition, what language they were taught in, how often they updated their curriculum, how much they aided you in your job search, etc. It seemed a bit overwhelming at first.
I decided that I wanted to attend one in Latin America. Bootcamps are not cheap and part of what makes them a worthwhile investment is their job assistance once the bootcamp is over. While getting work as a foreigner is difficult anywhere around the globe, as a Peruvian citizen I realized it would be more feasible if I stayed within Latin America.
The problem was that there aren’t many Bootcamps in LatAm. As I continued my research, I found out that most were relatively new, and didn’t have that much of a track record. I was hesitant, until I found out about Ironhack.
But right before I left, my mind wandered again and some doubts came back. I started thinking about how much effort and time I had already put into my chosen career and everything I had learned. At first I thought “what a waste," but this time, I quickly stopped myself. I realized that it wasn’t a waste. Everything I had learned until then wasn’t for nothing. It wasn’t being replaced by this new field, but rather complemented by it.
Programming isn’t 1-dimensional, as it can encompass multiple fields. I could use my background in finance and economics to my advantage. Years of learning about financial models, valuation, and investments could be of use if I wanted to go into fin-tech. My knowledge of data analysis, statistics, mathematics, and econometrics could give me the tools to better work with data. I am not starting from scratch, as I had originally thought, but rather building on top of what I’ve already done.
It’s been exactly 2 months since I made that decision, and I haven’t regretted it once. I’ve learned so much in so little time, and what excites me the most is that there’s still so much more to learn. I do wish I had done this sooner, but that doesn’t mean I regret my decisions. It was the right time for it back then, and it is the right time for it now, as I have chosen for it to be so.
– By Raúl Merino