From therapist to software engineer: Elizabeth’s story

Elizabeth Evans had earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and worked in mental health for 10 years when she realized she was stuck. “I realized I can’t move up any more in this industry,” she said. So she started looking for a career change. That’s when she heard about The Iron Yard.

We recently caught up with Elizabeth, who enrolled in our immersive coding course in Charleston in 2016, and asked her to share her story.

What’s your educational background? How did you end up at The Iron Yard?

I got my undergraduate degree in math, just because I had to major in something, and that seemed to be the easiest thing for me to do. Then, after working some odd jobs in the mental health world, I ended up getting my master’s in rehabilitation counseling, which had a focus on working with people with mental and developmental disabilities. I got licensed as a therapist, so I worked in mental health for ten years.

Then, after never making very much money, I realized, if I’m licensed and master’s level, I basically can’t move up any more in this industry; I should probably look for something else. My mom actually heard a commercial for The Iron Yard, and suggested I look into it. Then I just took a leap and did it.

What about The Iron Yard interested you at the time?

I never thought I would want to do anything with computers, even though I loved math, because I thought it would be really tedious and not very creative. I’ve never been the kind of person that played video games or took apart computers; I’m more of a theater and soccer kind of person.

But I learned from talking with Betsy Hare (our Charleston Campus Director) that there’s a lot more to the field, and just learning how creative it is was helpful. I guess I just had this picture in my mind that it was somebody sitting in front of a computer performing the same tasks all the time. I didn’t really think of it as problem-solving, and being creative, and making things look pretty, which are all things I like.

What was it like to be in this immersive learning environment for three months?

That was really fun. It was fun because it was really stressful but we were all in it together. I learned so much. It was crazy. Of course, the whole time I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh! I’m never going to understand this. I’m never going to get it.” Every week, I would try to think about, “Well, what did I know last week and what do I know this week?” I would realize how much I knew now that I didn’t know before.

Now that you’ve had a little bit of time to look back and reflect on what you’ve been through the last year, are you glad that you did it?

Yeah, I’m so glad I did it. It was a really great experience. It wasn’t easy, by any means. It was stressful and scary, but it was so worth it.

I’m making more money as an entry level web developer than I was as a Master’s Level Licensed Therapist. It’s crazy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why it is so scary changing careers. I think that a big part of it is when you don’t speak the language, it’s so easy to feel stupid. I think that’s an intimidating part of the developer world. I’m still working on it, but The Iron Yard helped me so much.

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