Gale's Story! An 'Employed' young tech's journey without a university degree...
Updated: Apr 6
by Nur Amalina Shamsun Nahar for Innustame
In today's world, there is a renewed and increased interest in 'Skill' and not 'Degree' towards employability. :Companies move to drop college degree requirements for new hires, focus on skills.
Gale’s journey is an inspiring example of how curiosity, passion, and hard work can lead to a promising career in technology without going to university after high school. She began experimenting with coding at 9 with Scratch, an easy and colourful coding programme for kids. She learned how to code with the help of her friends and teachers in her high school informatics club and watched YouTube tutorial videos. Gale had no prior formal education in technology. And now, she has landed her second job as a software developer in a well-established company in Prague, Czech Republic.
Here is why we encourage and support students in looking beyond traditional education as well. To be bold and look beyond formal education. Sometimes, to innovate is to think outside the box.
How did you begin?
When asked how Gale started her interest in technology, she jokes that it was an “illusion of choice” given by her mother. Starting at 11, her mother asked if she wanted to join the IT or informatics club. Not wanting to follow in her sister's footsteps but to create her own path, Gale decided to join the Informatics club.
In the informatics club is where she also met her best friend. Together, they would watch Youtube tutorial videos by Indian Youtuber Tusher Roy and learn to solve coding problems. She laughs at how amazing it is to learn from someone halfway across the world. Gale and her best friend would also travel and compete in coding competitions across Bulgaria. And Gale attests to the fact that their friendship kept the flame of innovation alive and aided her learning and motivation to continue towards a career in technology.
“It’s like going to the gym and working out with a friend; you have someone to exercise with you.”
Through her time in technology, she talks about how she has met inspiring and exciting people who have all motivated her to learn something new daily, which continues to drive her passion for technology today. As Gale shared her story, I could not help but smile and laugh at her infectious optimism and love for learning and technology.
What were the challenges?
Despite her intense passion for technology, Gale admits she does find some obstacles in motivating herself, experiencing imposter syndrome and facing brick walls when she does not understand a concept. However, she believes in putting a deadline on projects, and when you do not understand, fake it until you make it.
Gale insists that anything is possible. She humbly explains that learning how to code was easy with the help of her friends and teachers in the informatics club and the resources around her.
How did you get your current job in Prague?
Gale said that getting her job in Prague was unplanned and a surprise. Her dream was and is to work in Sweden. But one day, a recruiter connected with her on LinkedIn, and she decided to go through the interview process with no expectations but for practice and experience. And now, here she is!
Women in STEM?
Being a woman in the technology sector, Gale admits that she has experienced misogynistic comments a few times, but overall, her experience has been positive. Her previous boss in the start-up was a woman, and that inspired her and unconsciously made it a safe space for her to work. Gale also shares that Bulgaria, where she is from, has one of the world’s highest numbers of female programmers. This is also encouraging and inspiring for women like Gale to pursue a career in technology.
What advice do you have for fellow aspiring coders?
“Oh, there is nothing to be afraid of!”
Gale advises fellow students to take introductory coding courses online. There are plenty of courses for you to start your coding learning journey. For example, Scratch, the platform she began with, is an easy programme for beginners to visualise the blocks of code.
Gale recommended the course, Introduction to Computer Science by Harvard University. She and her colleagues have used it to establish and reinforce foundations. Gale also suggests trying to work in a start-up as you have more to learn and flexibility. She also explains to try and go for interviews if you have the skillset. She explains that while interviews may be thorough, there is nothing for which you cannot prepare yourself.
Gale’s journey to success is a testament to determination, passion and hard work. From learning how to code from her friends and informatics club at 11 to landing her second job as a software developer in Prague at 22. It further encourages us to look beyond traditional and formal education pathways at universities and rely on our curiosity and the resources around us. Gale’s story will remind us that hard work and a little passion make anything possible!
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