My career journey from IT support to software developer
Once upon a time, there was a girl who dreamed of being a software developer, and so she became one. And everyone lived happily ever after.
I wish my story were that short and sweet. However, being a software developer isn’t easy. So, it was fitting that getting my dream job wasn’t so simple. After all, life isn’t about shortcuts.
Even though I know I can do anything I set my mind to, I also know I usually have to work hard to get there.
This includes being able to identify an opportunity — even if there are difficult barriers to overcome — and seizing it. I’m grateful to ArcTouch, not only for enabling staff to change roles, but also mentoring them for those changes. More on that later in this story.
Doing work that matters
I’ve been dreaming about becoming a software developer for more than five years. For much of that time, I’ve been studying different aspects of Internet technology, first earning a two-year technical degree and then starting a bachelor’s degree program in 2019.
I’m an expert in making plans — and when those don’t go as planned, I make a new plan. After all, that’s the only way you can guarantee you’ll get to where you want to go.
While in school, I also worked in a variety of technical roles, including IT support and quality assurance testing.
The first experience I had in the tech industry was with a company where I had two very different roles. It wasn’t what I expected, so I took a break. But, as this was my dream, I started over with a new company and an internship. After the internship ended, I took a full-time position with a company in an environment that was very comfortable, but not necessarily challenging for me. So, I eventually left because I knew I had to get out of that comfort zone and take more risks if I wanted to get to my ultimate dream job: software engineer.
Finding a home with ArcTouch QA
One of my prior companies did some work with ArcTouch and I was part of that team. I was impressed with the quality of their work, the people and how the project was managed. What I instantly loved about ArcTouch was the constant communication and collaboration among team members at all levels. If I had any questions about the work, I could speak directly with my peers and managers at any time.
They made me feel like a part of the team right away. My opinions and ideas were always valued — I had a voice, and I used it plenty. I felt great about working with them, and when the project ended, I immediately missed working with ArcTouch.
So when I was looking for my next career opportunity I applied for a full-time position at ArcTouch. I was excited about the possibility of joining the team and working on exciting projects for amazing clients.
I was thrilled to join ArcTouch as a QA analyst — and I had the chance to get to know even more about the people I already had worked with, and learn more about the product development process, this time as an ArcTouch employee. It was simply amazing.
I recently celebrated my 3-year anniversary at ArcTouch — the longest I’ve ever been at a single company. I’ve lost official count, but I estimate that I’ve worked on more than 25 different projects — giving me the opportunity to learn about so many different businesses and work with some terrific people, both at ArcTouch and with our clients.
During those three years, I’ve worked alongside designers, strategists, and of course, software engineers. At ArcTouch, QA is very closely related to engineering (after all, QA engineers help define code tests throughout the development process). And working so closely with the software engineers made me want to become a software developer even more.
Following through on my dream
It’s not always easy to bring up the idea of changing jobs inside a company. The first time I had the courage to talk about my dream of being a software engineer was with ArcTouch’s VP of People Operations in early 2020. She assured me that it was absolutely possible, with a plan from ArcTouch and with dedication from me.
I also talked to my QA team manager about a possible change — and she suggested I speak with the iOS development team manager for advice. Aside from what I already knew from my QA work on iOS apps, I had been studying Swift development. I also had experience with front-end development, along with .NET and C#.
I basically knew a little about a lot of things. The iOS manager recommended areas where I should practice to deepen my skills. Then the pandemic hit. We all know how intense and scary this was at first, and it caused me to pause again on my dream. I was feeling overwhelmed. I just kept going with life as it was, doing my best at work, and waiting for things to settle. Between the pandemic, my studies at the university, and my QA work, I lost some momentum.
Perseverance pays off
People say that “the third is a charm” right? It was like that for me. My third concentrated effort to make a change took place in the middle of 2021. I had finished my classes and completed my thesis for university. So, I suddenly had more time to re-dedicate my efforts to make the change I wanted so badly: to become a software engineer.
Once again, I went to talk to our VP of People Operations. This time, I said with conviction how much I was ready for the change. So, we created a detailed plan and defined steps for a transition.
The plan got underway with meetings that included my QA manager and our head of engineering. We talked about my accomplishments, my studies, and ultimately, my hopes of becoming a software engineer. Then, we built a mentoring plan. I was assigned to two amazing mentors who provided amazing support and advice. They gave me challenges to level up my skills. I also challenged myself to strengthen what I already knew, and learn what I didn’t.
Then, one beautiful, sunny day I asked my mentors if they thought I was making progress toward becoming a software engineer. They told me they had already given the feedback to our head of engineering that I was “ready to be a developer.”
A new door opens
Hearing those words from my mentors was the biggest achievement of my career. I could see new doors opening — and others I could close. Soon a junior engineer position became available and ArcTouch offered me the job. Now, I’m proudly a few months into my new role as a full-stack developer.
Being a junior developer is not easy. Some insecurities are still lurking. I wonder, “Am I asking too many questions?” I occasionally fight imposter syndrome, concerned someone may think I’m not a good fit for this position.
However, my manager is always available and supportive. He’s eager to explain things, as necessary. And he’s helping me to gain the confidence I need as a professional software engineer. I have also started working with another mentor at ArcTouch, in which I’ve been learning more aspects of full-stack development and building up my expertise. And again, the support I’m getting from this new mentor has been unbelievably amazing. I will continue going through a learning curve, but I know I’m not alone. I’ve had a whole team at ArcTouch that’s supported me at every step to help me get here — and I’ll continue to learn from them in my path ahead.
My story — and this journey to my dream job — wasn’t short and sweet. But that’s ok. I’m proof that you shouldn’t stop because things don’t go as you want, or exactly as you plan. I’m an expert in making plans — and when those don’t go as planned, I make a new plan. After all, that’s the only way you can guarantee you’ll get to where you want to go.
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