How the heck did I get here?

Natalia Ryan
3 min readOct 23, 2020

A question I often ask myself after staring at my computer for hours jumping through the many obstacles our beloved Ruby language presents us with. My journey that led me to where I am now, has certainly been a doozy. Growing up, we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up. Of course kids say police officers, fire fighters, or doctors. I, of course, settled on being a full time princess at the age of five. It wasn’t until a middle school career fair that I had even learned what computer science actually was and the importance it holds in this modern world. From that day, I always said I wanted to be a software engineer. I had many teachers and fellow students tell me I was “not smart enough” to ever be a computer engineer. Much to my surprise, I was accepted into a local university with computer science as my intended major. I attended a whole whopping semester of traditional school before realizing it wasn’t the path for me.

I had spent many summers nannying for a family that lived in Long Island, New York. They also happened to own a restaurant in New York City and asked if I would like to help out. I intended to work at the restaurant for a month and fly back home to figure out my next step in life. When the month was up, I was offered a full time position and accepted graciously. I had come from a smaller city in Northern California and New York felt like a new beginning. I felt like I had endless possibilities at my fingertips and was ready to learn. I was trained as a cashier/barista, but management soon realized I was better suited for administrative work. I was shown the ropes of their corporate catering coordination. I had an incredible mentor that equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to run the program. I even had a hand in creating and establishing a catering program for a new location at Rockefeller Center. I had great success with my clients ensuring they were always fed and happy. We catered major music festivals, charity events, and more birthdays than I can count. This was all incredibly fun, but I was lacking fulfillment.

I had wrestled with the idea of leaving on and off for years. I knew in my heart that I wanted to go back to school to finish what I had started. At the end of 2019, I began researching schools to attend and had come across Flatiron School. That’s when I put together a timeline for 2020. I had planned on working through the busy summer season, and resigning during autumn. As we all know, Covid-19 had other plans. The restaurant industry in New York City was hit hard. Within a week, we went from having a fully booked schedule, to having all catered lunch meetings cancelled due to everyone being ordered to work from home. As much as my employer and I would have liked my position to remain, there was nothing left for me. I was forced to prematurely say goodbye to my life as I knew it in New York. After four beautiful years, it was time to head back to California.

I sheltered in place for months with my old roommates who graciously allowed me to move back in, my parents. In September, I decided to launch myself into school, become a software engineer and fulfill my dream for over a decade. I was anxious to be so far out of my comfort zone. I have felt incredibly whole in such a short amount of time. I know the road ahead is daunting and will not be easy, but I am eager to tackle each challenge that lies ahead.

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