Speech Therapist to Full-Stack Developer

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One of our favourite things about connecting with the coding community online is learning about each Developer’s story and their journey into the world of coding. As a company we have quickly realised that anyone can learn to code. Take our Consultants for example, they learn to code every Wednesday to gain a better understanding of the programming language they specialise in. 

We spoke with Jaclyn Brothers (@JaclynBrothers) a Full-Stack Developer who was drawn to coding through her job as a Speech Therapist when she looked to change the way she taught her students. Here’s what she had to say. 

What has your journey looked like so far?

When I was growing up, I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I wanted to make a positive impact by helping others.

In high school, things became clearer when I was tutoring English in my spare time for children. This really helped me understand different learning styles and gave me a whole new perspective to learning in general. 

I was then introduced to a Speech Therapist who worked at UCLA and I got the great opportunity to shadow her. At that moment I knew that was the field I wanted to go into. Shortly after I received my Master's Degree in Communicative Disorders in Speech Language Pathology, I started working with clients in a private practice. Then I transitioned to working in schools, including an online school, which is where I found my love for coding.

What drew your attention to software engineering?

When the pandemic started and we had to move towards online learning, I found that a majority of my students had difficulty accessing the virtual materials and many of the resources were mostly static PDFs.

It also became very difficult for some of my students to participate as many of them were non-verbal and used communication devices to respond. Since the PDFs were not very engaging or interactive, I knew there were better options out there. That’s when I took on the challenge of finding learning materials that would benefit them and I came across Developers who were in similar circumstances creating interactive games and websites.

I started doing the same and I began learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in order to create interactive speech activities that were customized to my students' communication goals and interests. I also made text to speech available on all the activities for those who needed it. I received a lot of great feedback from families and I really got to witness how effective it was as their progress skyrocketed. 

How did you learn to code?

During the peak of the pandemic, I began to learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for my projects, and as time progressed I got better and began learning more advanced techniques. In October 2021, I started my own consulting business, and I offered my services to local clients and businesses in which I created websites for them as I really wanted to understand the UI design of interactive websites.

Moving on to this year, I decided to join 100Devs in January and it has really helped me progress my knowledge in web development. I also found my love for full-stack development through Node and React. 

100Devs was a great experience as I got to collaborate with several Developers and learn important parts of coding such as debugging. 

Are there any transferable skills from your old career? 

There are many skills that I have taken from my previous role and they have definitely proved to be effective during my time coding, but these are the three most important ones: 

Communication - Being able to express yourself through your work and ideas has been a big part of both fields.

Problem-solving - A great critical thinking process is certainly beneficial in both areas as well as having the patience to come up with solutions for problems. Experimenting through trial and error effectively is a key skill.

Collaboration - Building positive relationships where you can help one another and provide feedback has been very valuable for me. 

Are there any other areas of software engineering that interest you? 

Two areas that I am continuing to learn more about are web accessibility and UI design best practices. I am looking forward to further expanding my overall knowledge in those areas. My goal is to help bridge the gap between the industry standards and user accessibility and satisfaction.

I am also very interested in cloud systems and I have been speaking to other Developers in that area as well.

I think that’s my favourite part about coding as you can go into so many different fields and career paths, it has really helped to expand my interests and existing skill set.

Coding skills are hugely transferable whether you work in tech, you’re a coder by profession, or whether you code as a hobby. Talking to Jaclyn and learning about her journey into coding has been amazing, and it’s been a huge motivator to some of our Consultants who are starting their journey. 

If you’re interested in learning to code and want to know more, send us a message. We’d love to have a chat! Or check out Jaclyn’s Twitter page @JaclynBrothers.
 

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