By Eve Denison April 10, 2017

Coding for Social Good: Applying a Career in Social Work to Mobile App Development

Meet Eve! Her master’s degree and 10-year career in social work impacted her decision to use technology to continue help people. She shares her experience changing careers, how she plans to use her new training in mobile development to benefit others, and some encouraging words for others who are making the switch.

Eve Denison

Hello! My name is Eve Denison and I am a student in Code 401: Advanced Software Development in iOS* at Code Fellows. I completed Code 201 and Code 301, and am excited to share my story of how I decided to come to Code Fellows.

Until about six months ago, I had never considered a career in coding. I was originally involved in interdisciplinary arts, exploring many different mediums, including photography, dance, painting, and fashion design. Although I will always have a deep love of art, I knew that I didn’t want it to be my main career.

I was passionate about helping people, so I pursued a bachelor’s in Counseling and Psychology and a master’s in clinical social work, specializing in treating substance abuse disorders and complex trauma. I loved social work but after ten years in the field I needed to look at other ways to help people.

My boyfriend’s brother went through Code Fellows a few years ago. He shared with me how happy he was with the program and how he was able to get a great job after graduating. My boyfriend actually started learning to code before I did, and it piqued my interest. After finishing some online tutorials, I was hooked.

I thought about how many of my clients were turning towards technology—apps in particular—to gain more independence. I knew my background in the mental health field gave me an intimate knowledge about many of the unmet needs of people struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse issues—needs that could be met with apps developed by people who understand how paralyzing these issues can be.

Late last year, I started researching Code Fellows extensively, and called to learn more about the program in October. I had the opportunity to speak with Brook Riggio, the VP of Education, and he was very encouraging about women joining this field as we are greatly under-represented. I was sold.

After that conversation, my boyfriend and I decided to move from Tucson, Arizona up to Seattle to start a new life adventure. I applied for—and, graciously, received—one of Code Fellows’ Diversity Scholarships. This gave me the opportunity to change my life and the lives of others. Everyone on campus has been very supportive of women in tech and they have been passionate about creating a diverse and supportive campus.

I have loved my time at Code Fellows! The teachers have been incredible. I have learned from Adam Wallraff and Sam Hamm, and in each course there were a number of TAs who are phenomenal at teaching and essential to the student learning process.

I was nervous starting out because I really had very little experience coding—only some online tutorials for JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. If you’re in this same boat, know that this is fairly common at Code Fellows. Many people enroll to change careers completely, so you will not be alone if you have little to no experience.

This process is not always easy, but it is incredibly rewarding. Humility is necessary to make it through—accept that you may not always know what to do, and that it’s okay to not know! One of the coolest moments is when you realize that you know more than you think. The “imposter syndrome” is real and it takes talking about your concerns with others to move past that. Learning how to appreciate the challenges is important because you grow so much more as a developer when you struggle.

As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.” That has become my motto. The program is intensive and learning how to appreciate the mud—the bugs, the missing semicolon, the moment all your code looks the same because you’re tired—the better you’ll do! Being here is gift and I cannot wait to start my adventure as an iOS Developer.


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