Meet Michelle: From teacher to software developer
Leaping from teacher to software developer
After discovering a passion for coding, Michelle Wong made the leap from primary school teaching to a new digital career in software development.
Michelle first began coding to help her students develop logic and reasoning skills.
“It was beginner-friendly coding but the kids were very quick to grasp the skills. I started a coding club after seeing the benefits of teaching students to code, then had to learn coding on the weekend in order to stay a step ahead. It was great for them but a bit challenging for me,” laughs Michelle.
Fascinated, Michelle was soon coding in her own time and attending meet-ups and coding sessions. It was a hobby, but she found a supportive community.
“I would be working on my own project and run into some errors and the developer community would help me figure out the problem. It was amazing how a stranger would willingly look at my work and help out.”
Eager to expand on her digital skills, Michelle left teaching to become a software developer. As a graduate developer at MYOB, she found many of her teaching skills were useful, including working collaboratively in teams.
“I like that MYOB has this culture where it fosters mentoring. I really enjoy learning from a lot of different and really smart people.
“And I like that you can contribute to something and then see your code being used in some way. You think to yourself, I was able to contribute to that! That has a great deal of satisfaction.”
The transition didn't come without challenges. “It’s a steep learning curve, for sure,” says Michelle. “You’re learning a whole new language and it takes a bit of time to really understand what’s going on. You have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Michelle got comfortable by setting small, achievable goals, and asking a lot of questions.
“When learning to code, I’d write down all my questions and ask a classmate or the teacher or basically anyone willing to listen. People have told me I ask a lot of questions, but it’s a good thing and you shouldn’t stop doing that.”
Michelle used her existing communications skills to excel in her new role. Her understanding of how to break things down into small, easy-to-understand blocks also assisted in the career transition.
“As a teacher, I had to do a lot of collaboration with other teachers for planning. So it was very easy for me to go into software development where collaboration on solving problems is so important.”
Michelle notes that talking with other people also going through a career-change helped as well.
Michelle hadn’t thought about a career as a developer, but her hobby became an opportunity when she saw MYOB had programs for women.
“I’m still passionate about teaching, but what really appeals to me in any career is to be constantly learning. I really like the challenge of keeping abreast of evolving technologies.”
Training in a digital role opened the door to a huge number of industries that need enthusiastic people with up-to-date digital skills.
“Tech touches every industry, which makes these skills very transferable,” concludes Michelle. “Coding has opened up so many different industries to me which weren’t open before.”
Page last updated: 12 August 2021