Illustration of ambulance pointing to illustration of laptop with code.

Each month, Sevaa Group helps to sponsor and organize the Atlanta JavaScript Meetup group. This month, we started the meetup with a discussion about transitioning to a programming career as a “non-coder” with Joshua Martin (@manuscriptmast) and Chris Malloy (@chris_malloy17). Their experience is grounded in the fact they were both students of music before becoming avid programmers and teachers.

As a non-coder, the world of web development can seem extremely daunting. However, Joshua and Chris cleverly organized their talk with a simple acronym: M.O.V.E. This acronym consists of questions to ask yourself if you want to make the jump to a career in web development.

M – Motivation

Why do you want to switch careers?

It’s very common to get burnt out after working in one field for a very long time, or perhaps, programming is your lifelong passion and you finally want to pursue it. In their example, Joshua and Chris direct their questions to a nurse who wants to become a programmer.

Thanks to her experience as a nurse, she is an excellent team player and problem solver. These skills are perfect for the level of collaboration that comes with being a web developer. In addition, she is attracted to the fact that web development entails constant innovation and therefore allows her to be creative.

O – Obstacles

What’s holding you back?

For most career changes, the main obstacles are the time investment and the cost, not to mention mental barriers. Some might think they aren’t smart enough or they’re too old to start another career path. However, the great thing about becoming a web developer is that there are so many different routes to achieve your goal. Depending on your level of commitment, you can take your time contributing to an open source project or take the fast track to a dev career through a bootcamp.

Chris mentioned that open source projects can be very valuable for your portfolio, especially if you’ve contributed to Node.

People often believe that their decision to switch careers would be betraying the investment others have contributed to them. Even more disheartening is the idea that making the switch would be a betrayal to yourself and the time you’ve put in at your current career. Joshua made a great point, that I think everyone knows but still (maybe without realizing) practices: Your identity is not defined by your career.

This line of thinking will most certainly lead to fatigue and dissatisfaction. If web development is something you’ve wanted to pursue for a long time or generally seems interesting, you owe it to yourself to explore the opportunities.

V – Values

What makes you feel validated as an employee?

As an employee in any career, you want to provide value to your company and receive value in return for your hard work. “Value” can be defined in many ways based on what you want out of a career. This could mean monetary value, upward mobility, positive affirmation, or something else. Perhaps you feel great after receiving positive feedback about your work, or the possibility of a promotion gets you going in the mornings.

Joshua recommends reading _The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace_ by Gary Chapman and Paul White. This book expresses the importance of employee morale and how to increase that with appreciation and encouragement.

E – Expectations

What do you think developers actually do?

Most people think you have to be a genius to be a successful programmer. However, a career in web development can encompass various skills. There is especially a lot of value placed on visual creativity.

In fact, both Joshua and Chris are great testaments to this point. Anyone can be a programmer, all you need is passion. Whether you’re a nurse or a musician, you have the ability to become a great programmer. If you love to learn new things and enjoy the benefits of collaboration, web development could be your next career move.

The Atlanta Javascript Group welcomes presentations of all topics, whether it’s about making a career change or an in-depth demo about creating an app with NativeScript. Contact us about meeting details or visit Atlanta JavaScript on Meetup.

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