“I Used to Dream About The Stuff I Do Now” – Confessions of Tech Convert

It’s hard to describe without sounding like a cliché. The moment you decide to change your life – that “enlightened” moment that people refer to when talking about this. But you see, that cheesiness is what I think it makes it special.

People always tell themselves, “I want to change my life,” and learn change is difficult.

My story started that way too but making the change was easier than I thought. All it took was a little effort – the decision to actually pull the trigger – and then taking that first step to change my life.

Like many other Sabio fellows, I found myself in a place two years ago I didn’t want to be. I remember a conversation I had with Gregorio Rojas (Sabio Co-Founder). I told him how worried I was taking this gamble – moving out of a stable (yet underpaid, unhappy job) to see if I can make it in the tech world. I’ll never forget the look he gave me. “Gamble? It’s not a gamble if you know it works!”

A month after graduating I was making about 50% more than before I decided to jump into tech. Today, now I’m a little over two years into my new career as a software developer and I’m making twice what I used to make.

I had to go out of my way to find tech courses. I did a lot of research and a lot of reading to understand the basics without a mentor. This is one of the biggest issues I think. The concept of a career in computer programming is abstract to many people and our current education system is just becoming aware of these opportunities but not fast enough to catch up with the industry.

Even colleges are guilty of this. The industry moves way to fast to wait for students taking five to six years to get a computer science degree. Our education system still operates like it did 20 or 30 years ago with some minor changes. That gap is what we need to work on, and places like Sabio, or any other reputable coding bootcamps are helping to fix this. Yet there’s still a stigma about learning to code at a bootcamp.

I was lucky enough to have Gregorio Rojas as my mentor while going through the Sabio program. He is very particular in the way he teaches. There’s no hand holding. By the time we finished the course, I was thinking in code. I saw myself as a software engineer, because in fact, I engineered solutions using code.

Sabio gets you ready to get a job, not just to learn what a few coding functions do. One of the reasons the program works is that they make you feel you are already working for a company. I loved every minute of it.

It’s naive to think there’s no racial/gender bias in tech, but labels don’t help. It’s really not about whether you are Latino, Black, Chinese, Indian – but about how much pride you take in what you do.

The beauty of the tech is that you can create anything. From web pages to full-on apps; from start-ups to big companies; there’s no race or gender in code.

With that said, I for one, would love to work with more Latinos and women of course. I would love to see more apps out there made by Latinos for Latinos. But again, code doesn’t care where you come from, or what color your skin is. It’s about creativity. It’s about good ideas.

I used to dream about designing video games but three years ago I had almost forgotten about my real goals. I was just focused on making enough money to pay for rent, food, go out every once in a while with my family. And here I am, talking to you about been a software engineer and getting ready to launch a few games I’ve made!

— Carlos Ayala

Carlos Ayala is Full Stack Software Engineer for Courthouse News Service. He was born in El Salvador and came to this country with his family more than ten years ago. He graduated from Sabio two years ago and now lives in Monterey Park with his wife and two children.