My career GPS has taken me toward coding all my life, but I wasn’t receiving the message. I kept trying to stay on a traditional route, but the signs were trying to tell me, “Re-route!”. As I look back to three former interests of mine, chess, court reporting, & braille, I recognize why coding seems like a natural fit for my abilities and interests.
How chess relates to coding:
“Checkmate!” was the word I anticipated as my head rested on my hands at the table's edge, watching my dad and uncle on most holidays and the occasional Sunday. From the young age of maybe 5 or 6, my job was to set up the white and black figures on their appropriate squares along the board. Once I learned that skill, the second piece of knowledge was to learn their names, “pawn”, “rook”, “knight”, “bishop” and of course, “King” and the almighty “Queen”. Next, I learned how they moved and eventually, after a couple of years, I was able to play a game of my own.
One of the biggest tips Dad taught me was to ask two important questions for each move. “What is now being uncovered?” and “What is being attacked?” It is the mindfulness one needs to be successful in the game. You need to know where your opponent is going and how to make your own moves.
As I started coding, I recognized the similarities that for every line of code, something in the result is changing what was prior and what is now. Writing and then “commenting out” a line of code is one of the best ways I can understand what is happening with the code. Which is very similar to setting up an offense and defense in the game of chess!
I peaked in my chess game around age ten when I went to the school district tournament after winning at my school. I won the first game and lost the second to the kid who went on to win the whole thing. I’m okay with that. I’m also okay with putting some of what I learned into this new interest!
Court reporting is probably like coding too!
I say “probably” because due to my mom’s recommendation to go the traditional college route, rather than going to court reporting school like I wanted, I unfortunately never got to learn more about it.
In my high school Business Law class, we had a court reporter guest speaker who told us all about the opportunities and rewards of a career in court reporting. It sounded right up my alley! I liked the idea of learning a “code” as well as the salary ranges.
I visited two schools in the area and learned about all of the vocabulary that court reporters are required to learn including legalize, medical, and law-enforcement semantics. What I really liked was the clicking and “coding” of the little machine that court reporters use to write shorthand from what is being said. It sounded very interesting, but also, a little risky and non-traditional. At that time in my life, I played it more safe. I went on to get my four-year degree, plus a master’s in education.
Braille is a language just like Coding!
Later on in my teaching career, my path once again introduced me to another code! After a few years of teaching and two children of my own, I took some time to raise my kids while also earning another teaching certificate to support students with visual impairments.
In this program, I learned braille, the system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision. A Perkins Brailler or “braille typewriter” consists of nine keys in a horizontal row that, when pressed in different combinations, create the raised dots in formation to create a code for language. It was so satisfying to hear the “CLUNK” of the keys and to create and read this code! I learned to read it visually, but did try to read it by hand as well.
I truly loved learning this, but unfortunately, the work I did in the field did not require braille, so as with most languages, if you don’t use it, you lose it. I’m sure I could re-learn it, if necessary, but my path did not take me in that direction.
And so naturally…
Stumbling across web development coding as I have, felt like coming home to what my interests have been telling me all along. I enjoy learning the language of it all and creating something new that presents information in a different modality. Chess, court reporting, and braille helped me pave the trail and now I feel in tune enough to trust that this is the path I want to continue on.
What from your past interests is similar to coding that helped you feel this was right for you?