I'm learning programming and cybersecurity at 30
Our life paths are but a series of hard stops and starts—particularly when it comes to our careers and end goals. I have been working in tech for the past 10 years, starting my career as a technology reporter for CNBC and the Los Angeles Times, then at a tech startup, and later as a consultant. I’m currently a technology entrepreneur and the proud founder of TechSesh.
Here’s the thing: I never had a deep understanding of the technical side of technology. This is why when I was offered the chance to go back to school and take a few technical courses with University of Phoenix, with all costs being waived by them, I jumped at the opportunity. I knew it was time for a change and growth in order to pursue a greater sense of fulfillment.
There’s one thing constant in the tech world: Everything is always changing. Blink and you’ll miss it. But through dizzying change, some universal truths remain. The contributions of women in technology cannot, and should not, be underestimated. While it is true that many more men than women are in the tech space, even in 2018, women are far from the sidelines.
The Stats Don’t Lie
For decades, the STEM fields have been unwelcoming to women, unfairly (albeit sometimes unconsciously) omitting their seat at the tech table with glaring wage gaps, gender discrimination and biases, sexual harassment and limited opportunities.
The good news? Times are changing and women are making moves. I see it first hand with my TechSesh meetups. More women are becoming recognized as thought leaders and game changers in the industry. They are becoming powerful catalysts for change across the tech landscape. Their unique perspectives, solutions and ideas are rapidly changing the world as we know it.
The Labor Department predicts that tech jobs will grow faster than the average for all jobs at a rate of 13% between 2010 and 2020, but it's not just hiring demand that makes this industry one to watch.
This is exactly why I wanted to extend my knowledge, to learn and enhance my career. As a busy entrepreneur, I decided the best way to do this was to take an online class with University of Phoenix. I heard good things but wanted to see for myself.
Why did I choose these two courses? My business, TechSesh, is a prime example of a creative enterprise that relies heavily on the technology that drives it. So, coding is very important. I also wanted to use my new expertise to build the backbone of my business and save on costly outsourcing. I built my business from scratch and continue to handle coding for the website and all digital marketing in-house.
Still, there’s more to technology than knowing how to code. That’s exactly why I decided to add on the cybersecurity course. As we face more data breaches and security threats, cybersecurity is becoming a crucial skilled profession. There is an urgent need for cybersecurity experts and companies are looking to hire people rather than employ software. On top of that, it’s important to keep my company safe and protected. I personally want to consult for companies who need help in this department.
In the coding class, we learned Python, a popular programming language, used often for web and media programming. Even Google uses Python. Most media companies use Python, so this was on brand and helpful for my own site. Also, it’s easy to learn, easy to read and very flexible. Python is a good language for writing programs that work within an application, like the image manipulation language GIMP or the 3D content creation tool Blender.
Also, I saw a direct correlation on how this knowledge would affect my professional career. The version of Python used in our textbook was called Jython, a form of Python that is effective for programming in multimedia that works across multiple computer platforms. Possessing these transferable skills allows me to move around the computing sector, keeping my workload fresh, while simultaneously developing new and solidifying existing skills and competencies.
I am someone who always practiced safe surfing, implemented two-step verification and so on when it comes to my online habits. Still, after taking the course, I learned that I was not doing enough. Through the course reading material and recent series of online threats, I see and understand why a company like IBM banned all removable storage, for all staff, everywhere.
Employees may be using USB or flash drives daily without a problem, but the risk of unauthorized use increases as soon as the drive leaves the building and possibly even the system. These drives are often used for personal use along with business use, and it is far too easy for that information to be stolen. With that said, I would employ this knowledge and expertise as requirements for any of the companies I consult.
I highly recommend taking these two online courses with University of Phoenix. As a busy entrepreneur, juggling a lot of travel, running a business and taking care of clients, the structure allowed me to log on anytime and anywhere, which was great, and fit into my busy schedule. Also, anytime you feel like you’re about to be behind you get an email reminder of the workload for the week and requirements that need to be completed. That really allowed me to conquer two full classes and travel/work and not feel overwhelmed.
The class structure was also easy to follow, with weekly reading assignments, videos and class participation in the form of comments. I liked that the platform was easy to use and allowed me to read course materials on my phone. These programs made it easy to learn within my lifestyle. On top of taking classes anytime, anywhere, people can learn skills quickly with these five-week courses.
A big misconception is that tech is only for people who get degrees in tech and have years of experience. The reality is the tech industry is growing so rapidly that a wide array of skillsets is needed. I firmly believe that anyone, no matter their background, can work in this field. In my opinion, University of Phoenix can help get you there. The University serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs online, as well as campuses and learning centers across the U.S. in addition to the online world.
By telling my story about learning how to code and taking a cybersecurity course at 30, I hope to encourage those currently in the trenches of change moving from one career to another, and also inspire those who have crossed over to share their stories. Sharing is caring after all, right?
Let me know what you’re doing to advance your career in tech. Leave a comment below.