Louise has a lifelong love of learning, so much so she became a college professor.
For ten years, Louise taught Latin American history in North Carolina. While she was teaching, she was learning a new skill by building WordPress websites as a side job and hobby.
As an adjunct professor, work was not always guaranteed and the pay and lack of benefits was not enough to support her family as a single parent, but the side project websites interested her. She wanted to dive deeper to understand how WordPress website templates were built.
“I hated working with themes that were limiting so I started learning how to inspect my sites and trying to access code. At that point I was like, ‘Oh, I need to learn how to code,’ because if I could spend hours looking at code that I don’t understand there must be something there,” Louise said.
Louise attended a WordPress conference in Asheville, NC and found herself drawn to the workshops for developers. Though not having enough understanding of code to fully understand, something kept her interest. “I was looking at their code and I was excited by it, not bored,” she said.
When Louise returned home from the conference she began researching what it would take for her to learn to how to program. She weighed an in-person class experience versus online, looked at different programs and student reviews and decided The Iron Yard would be a good fit. Louise was able to enroll at the Charlotte campus with the help of a scholarship and the kindness of a friend who helped with the rest of her tuition.
“I couldn’t turn down that opportunity and I knew it was going to be crazy. [My semester] was around the holidays and I had to have a conversation with my kids and say, ‘Look, I’m going to be really busy and distracted [but] it will pay off in the end. I promise.’”
The classes were intense for Louise. She would be at The Iron Yard all day, go home for dinner with her family and then spend a few more hours of coding after her kids were in bed.
“I loved it. It is intense just because of the time commitment. You’re learning something new every day and grounding it down with a homework assignment…but for me, it was good because it was a gift to be able to be back in school and learning, just filling my brain and being with other students who were in the same boat trying to do the same things.”
Louise is currently working as her company’s first code school graduate intern and is pioneering a track to see if people from similar backgrounds can be valuable for future hires. Louise is also coding a website for a non-profit, a passion that she says fuels a lot of her work.
“I usually turn stuff into social justice things. That helps keep me inspired to learn the code. You can make it your own. I feel like I have skills that are helping people with a mission to do good in the world,” she says.
When asked if the hard work and time commitment was worth it, Louise does not hesitate.
“For single parents, this is really quite an opportunity. It’s one of the only [skills] I feel like I will use in different careers and get paid well. It seem like all these other traditional career paths, that’s not the case. This is the one career that I really see an opportunity for people to be stable and to enjoy their lives. Code school is intense, but with a little planning anyone can do it and the outcome is amazing.”