February 21st, 2019
Editor’s Note: Since 2016, more than 73,000 people have explored new opportunities with the Google Developer scholarship, part of Grow with Google’s commitment to help people across Europe–from Hungary to rural France–succeed in the digital economy.
Zuzana, a working mother from the U.K., was awarded the Google scholarship and graduated from a Udacity Nanodegree program, enabling her to launch a new career as a web developer. She’s among 21% of all Udacity Nanodegree students in the Grow with Google program in Europe who have received job offers after graduating. With her newfound confidence and skills, Zuzana was able to find the flexibility she needed to balance motherhood and her ideal career. Here is her story:
Being a mom to young kids isn’t easy. There’s always something you need to do for them, and it’s really hard to make time for yourself. So it was a special moment when in 2014, as a 33-year-old mother of two, I graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology.
I looked forward to applying my new skills, but none of the jobs for psychology graduates offered the flexibility I needed to look after my young family. For a while I worked as a teaching assistant in a school, but though the hours were great, I wasn’t utilizing my degree. I felt stuck. So when I became pregnant with my third child, I decided to make a change.
I searched online for flexible jobs and started reading about people who had learned how to code and just months later were working from home. I’d never been interested in technology before– I simply thought that wasn’t me. But out of curiosity, I started to look into what developers do.
When I read about web accessibility, something clicked. Web accessibility is about making the web accessible to all, regardless of a person’s disabilities. Since I knew about the issues disabled people might have (like attention disorders, fine motor skills deficiency and sight impairment), I could see how these issues could affect them when using the web.
Learning web accessibility would allow me to apply psychology in a flexible work arrangement, and I could learn how to do it in my own time. I thought, Wow! Finally, there’s something for me as a mom and as a person!
The Udacity Nanodegree program offered both a course on accessibility and a schedule that would fit my family commitments. I never thought I would get the Developer Scholarship from Google when I applied, so I was amazed to get an email saying I had been accepted.
I’d found it hard to think of myself as a web developer, but the scholarship changed that. It made me feel that someone believed in me, so I should believe in myself. The online interaction on the course was incredible, so I never felt like I was studying alone. Even so, when I was completing my Nanodegree program, it was a big step for me to go to a local tech meetup and present a talk to experienced developers. After I spoke, developers came up to me and told me how much they enjoyed my presentation. And shortly after that, one of them offered me my first job, as a web developer for a branding agency.
Whether it was psychology or programming, I’ve been hard at work studying ever since my first child was born. When I got that very first job, the kids celebrated with me because they knew how much hard work I’d put into it. I’m so glad I can be there for them–cooking, spending time together, helping them with their homework–and also focus on myself. The opportunity has opened new doors for my career, while keeping the door to my family wide open, too. I feel like I’ve finally found my perfect balance.