From Helping Others to Helping Myself

How I Learned to Follow My Own Advice

My three sisters and I were raised by a dad with a ponytail and a mom who did hair. To me, the world was full of exciting people and things to learn. I tried really hard at school and fell in love with math and science. I led the environmental club in high school and sang in the choir. I ended up in college studying psychology, then working at a nonprofit children’s clinic, raising support for uninsured children to see Vanderbilt-trained doctors.  

The next 12 years, I worked tirelessly to support women who were homeless, give girls the experience of scouting, and equip women with skills to gain employment. Meanwhile, I realized that while I love frozen Thin Mints and helping people, I needed to listen to what I had been telling others all these years – follow your passions. I realized I was so focused on helping others, that I never really thought about my own future. So, while it was uncomfortable and a big risk, I gave myself a sabbatical and applied to LaunchCode.

I realized that while I love frozen Thin Mints and helping people, I needed to listen to what I had been telling others all these years – follow your passions.

In St. Louis, it’s not often that you hear someone ask where you went to middle school. I discovered LaunchCode because of a friend from 6th grade who crossed my path a couple decades later. At the time, she was working at MasterCard and I was working in the nonprofit arena, doing philanthropy (more commonly called ‘friendraising’) work for Connections to Success / Dress for Success Midwest. Jointly, a pre-LaunchCode course was designed to help the women at Dress for Success become strong candidates for LC101. Having an unquenched interest in pursuing a career in math, everything about LC101 piqued my interest.

Having an unquenched interest in pursuing a career in math, everything about LC101 piqued my interest. Click To Tweet

I attempted the Harvard CS50 course at night from home and barely made it beyond the first couple of videos.  I was let down and quietly tucked my pipedream away.  Meanwhile, I pursued a lifelong dream of adopting two children from foster care. The demands of my job and attempting to balance time with my family was a challenge. So, again, I began tinkering with other career paths.  I attended a CoderGirl event and put in notice at my job shortly after applying to LaunchCode. Taking one big leap with my husband’s support, I decided to solely focus on learning to code.  I have been very fortunate that several friends who are programmers have stepped in to mentor and encourage me on my journey.   

I have been very fortunate that several friends who are programmers have stepped in to mentor and encourage me on my journey.  

Post-class, I want to continue to learn and build. I’m currently taking a deep-dive in front-end development through Udacity, thanks to a scholarship from Google. I’m also building an application that is a paperless weight-lifting log.  It’s made in C#, CSS and HTML. It’s my goal to launch it on mobile phones later this year and eventually put it on Apple Watch. My hope is to use my project and tidbits learned through the Liftoff class to land an apprenticeship.

My hope is to use my project and tidbits learned through the Liftoff class to land an apprenticeship.

To anyone who might be asking themselves if coding is right for them, I’ll share the same advice my mentors have given me:

•   Go on FreeCodeCamp and code for an hour a day.  
•   Visit a LaunchCode Class to get a taste of the environment.
•   Do informational interviews at local companies to learn about ways you can contribute.
•   Seek advice from experienced programmers.

I had a very vague idea of the types of things I’d be able to build before going through LC101. Learning to code has increased my energy to solve everyday life problems. I look forward to how I can continue to help others as I continue to listen, create, and test things out.

By Marcy Bursac
LC101 Student

/// If you’re ready to follow your passions and launch a tech career of your own, see how LaunchCode can help you get started.

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