My Coding Side Hustle Helped Me Adopt a Baby
A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.
Haele Wolfe, Skillcrush
Sarah Eggers balances a marketing job, tech side hustle, and family life in Kansas City, MO. Five years ago, she discovered Skillcrush and rekindled her love of tech, culminating in a web design side hustle that she runs alongside her day job in writing and marketing. She told her story to Haele Wolfe.
Despite living frugally, my partner and I bear considerable financial responsibility between student debt, a mortgage, and the general expenses of life. When I wanted to bring in some extra cash without changing careers, I decided to try out a side hustle and began consulting for social media marketing. I added tech skills to my repertoire, and three years later, those tech skills have become my main side hustle, eclipsing my social media consulting! Coding has made a huge difference—not just financially—but in my whole perception of my career. And most incredibly, my extracurricular work as a developer helped me accomplish an enormous personal goal: I started a family.
I've always been interested in tech because I love being able to customize things. When I was ten or eleven I would build HTML tables in Tripod (these were the pre-Myspace days) just for fun—there's just something about being able to make text glittery that really speaks to me. As I grew up I also cultivated a love of languages and literature (and hello, what is coding if not just more languages?) and ended up majoring in English before landing a job in marketing.
I dug into coding as an adult because I wanted to be able to design my own blog theme for a WordPress page I was running. Pursuing coding courses was about feeding my lifelong love of learning, and after a lot of research, I signed up for a web design course to familiarize myself with HTML and CSS so that I could have a foundation of knowledge before taking a WordPress course.
My tech side hustle grew organically after I completed the courses and was putting my new skills to work on my blog. Friends and family members found out that I knew how to customize pages and started asking me to help them with their own. And, I threw up a page about my new tech skills on my site and see if any work came in.
Freelancing as a developer on the side gives me balance in my professional life that I didn't realize I could have. In my day job, I often have year-long projects or goals, and it's hard to feel progress and to stay excited when I'm doing incremental work over a longer period of time—even though I love the work. Web development offers me that boost of completing projects in a few hours, days, or weeks—and that is so satisfying! I complete the work, get to see the client happy, cash my paycheck, and then move on to the next thing. Completing these cycles on different projects is completely motivating for me.
Another beautiful thing about freelance tech work is that I can totally say no to clients I'm not interested in. Choosing to work two jobs instead of going full-time freelance made the most sense for me, and having the ability to pick my freelance clients without the pressure of that work being my only way to pay bills keeps things fresh and fun. As a result, all the work that I do on the side is work that I'm truly excited about, and I only work for clients with whom I really connect.
Just a few weeks ago, I got to share some wildly exciting side hustle news with the Skillcrush alumni community: After a few years of freelancing as a web developer, my partner and I were able to adopt a child and start our family!
I'd began freelancing in web development sort of by accident—I'd simply wanted to learn, and then the clients started coming. Once I saw the potential financial benefits of further monetizing the side work I was doing, I dove in and was able put away a significant amount of savings towards our adoption.
My daughter is clearly the most costly and most worthwhile expense that my tech skills helped me afford, and having a second career that brought in money to pay for the adoption meant that our family was able to grow much sooner than my partner and I had initially thought.
My advice to others who are looking to learn something new or who want to try tech skills as a career path is to jump in. If you're even a little curious about what tech skills can do for you, just start! Even if you don't want to ditch your job (I see you out there, fellow education lovers!) you never know what kinds of benefits new skills will add to your life. For me, the extra income, fun of adding to my skill toolbox, and variation of projects in my work life, has expanded my career— and life—in ways I didn't know were possible.
Growing Your Career in Technical Support: 4 Tips for Getting Hired at Elastic from Support Director Heidi Sager
Heidi Sager loves math, but she also loves working with people.
She always has, which is why she enjoyed her part-time job working at the IT department of the University of Colorado while she was studying electrical engineering. (She'd started in computer science, but explains that it "wasn't for her" and switched her major.) She helped students and professors with word processors, basic programming, and software checkout, and took a full-time job after graduation as a UNIX system administrator.
Working at Relativity—the global tech company that equips legal and compliance professionals with a powerful data-organizing and discovery platform—looked different in 2020. The highly collaborative environment of their Chicago headquarters transitioned to a virtual setting, and just like companies around the country, Relativity adapted their goals and major projects to a completely remote environment.
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
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Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
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AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
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