Whitney majored in studio art with a specialization in graphic design from the University of South Carolina. After graduation, she worked as a graphic designer for five years and eventually landed a job as as a designer at a technology distribution company. Part of her day-to-day job was to add new content to the company’s massive website. “They were using a CMS, and it was so limiting and frustrating to use,” she said. “The user experience was awful. Everything was ugly, and it was a pain to get things to work how we wanted.”
That’s when Whitney came to the realization that her company was wasting money paying for a third party to manage the design of their website. “I wanted to learn how to do this stuff, so I asked my company if I learned how to do it, would they let me handle some of it for the company,” she said. “When they said no, I realized this is actually a problem that I wanted to know how to solve.”
Before her “a-ha” moment passed, Whitney took a risk and left her job to pursue her newfound passion for learning to code. “I just realized, there were these problems that companies were trying to solve, and there’s nobody to solve them,” she said. “I am one of those people who wants to figure out how to do it, and I knew there were other companies who would see the value in that.”
Recently, Whitney reflected on her experience and shared her thoughts on becoming a developer.
The thing that I had always liked about being a designer was making things. I want to build things. I want to do work that’s challenging. I want to build things that people like. I want to build projects that are helpful to people and that changes their lives.
I think that’s something that people don’t tell you: you don’t need math skills or science skills to be a front-end developer. I’m trying to make the web nicer and more friendly. I’ve never gotten a developer job because I was good at computer science, or because I was even interested in computer science. I’ve gotten every developer job because I wanted to solve problems.
There are developers from all different kinds of backgrounds, and there are people who are older, there are people who are younger. There are developers of all shapes and sizes, and they come from all over the world. If you have this idea that you don’t have the right background, or you don’t have the right connections, or you’re too old, or you’re too young, or you don’t look like a developer, or you want to wear heels and makeup or whatever. These stereotypes are wrong, and if you keep buying into this, you’re only hurting yourself.