From Opera to Web Development

How I chose fulfillment and created a life I love

Do you struggle to sleep at night due to anxiety? Do you dread the thought of work the next day? Do you work multiple jobs and still can’t keep up with your bills? I was definitely that person — counting down the minutes of each day and the days of each week and finding no fulfillment in my career. Finally one day I decided I was going to start living my life and face each day with anticipation instead of dread. Here’s how I left my old career behind and discovered my new passion and love: web development.

My Background

I was born and raised in little Laramie, Wyoming as the youngest of an incredibly musical family (Mom — opera singer; Dad — world’s biggest classical music lover; Brother — professional violinist; Sister — amazing cellist). It would make sense that I would follow in the family business and make my career in music, which is what I attempted to do.

At 18 years old, I moved alone to New York City. I took a year off from college to study with a voice teacher before I entered the Opera department at Purchase College (SUNY). I completed my bachelor’s degree and then earned my master’s (also in opera performance) at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Throughout all my years in school and for five years after, I worked many different part-time jobs just to pay the bills: from salons to restaurants, to teaching, to gigs, even working events for a window company! You name it, I probably did it at one time or another.

For 12 years I attempted to advance my career in opera performance. I worked all of the part-time jobs to pay the bills (which I did not succeed at) while attempting to take auditions and continue to pay for lessons and coachings — all while living in one of the most expensive areas in the country. With all of the jobs I had to work, I barely had any time left to devote to my career and to my passion. I was eventually drowning in debt. 💸 💸 💸 It all became too much and that is when I decided to make a big change in my life. It was time to change careers…but to what? How on earth does one decide, after 12 years of devotion to one path, to pick a new one and start from scratch?

#1 — I Got Organized

I began making lists of the skills I had acquired over the years. Regardless of the job, if you really dig deep the variety of skills you learn along the way is impressive! I took each job, each experience (good or bad), and each hobby from my past and started writing down what I had acquired and learned. Here are just a few things that came to mind:

Skills chart

Once I developed this list, I researched different careers that matched these skills. I kept coming back to web development: I knew I loved to create things and wanted a stable career where I could constantly be learning, growing, and improving. All of the pieces began to fit together and I knew this was going to be the next step in my life.

#2 — I Planned the Path to My New Career

In web development, I decided to choose the bootcamp route. I knew I needed something structured, organized, and well laid out. I won’t go into how I chose my bootcamp (that could be a whole other blog post!), but I ended up enrolling in CareerFoundry’s Full Stack Web Development Course. I spent the next five months diving deep into the world of the web. It wasn’t easy but it was definitely worth it.

#3 — I Mourned the Loss of My Past Career

I still struggle sometimes with “giving up” on my last career. It’s hard not to have those feelings! You devote 100% of your time, energy to something for years and then *poof* — it’s gone! These are normal and necessary emotions. The key here is taking the skills you learned and using them in this next stage of life. I look back on these last 12 years and instead of being bitter that I “wasted my time,” I am grateful for the lessons I learned along the way, for the lifelong friendships I have made (it’s how I met my husband after all… 💑) and for the experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. I am choosing to take all of that and use it for the better in this next phase of my life. This adds a whole level of depth to what I can bring as a developer.

On a side note… If there is something you loved or were passionate about with your previous career- that doesn’t mean you have to give up on it completely. While I am not continuing to make a career out of singing, I am still continuing to perform and make projects for myself. But now, I am choosing to sing for the love of the art, not for the desperate need of a paycheck. It is bringing a whole new appreciation and passion for something I thought I had lost.

#4 — I Realized It’s Never Too Late

I am a firm believer that you can choose your happiness. You can choose the life you want. I realized I was miserable working 10 different jobs and barely paying my bills. I realized I wasn’t getting the fulfillment with my career that I personally needed. I made the decision to change and create a life I love and want to live.

When I was teaching (only for a few hours a day) I would spend the entire day and night before dreading it, filled with anxiety. I would count down every second until it was over. Now I look forward to waking up. I spend 8–12 hours per day coding and the time FLIES. I absolutely love it and can’t wait to start again the next day. That alone makes it worth it.

It can be so scary to take that next step but I PROMISE you, it will be worth it. Choose your happiness. Make the life that you want to live. Anything is possible and there is no time stamp! Whether you just graduated college and decided you don’t want to continue with the career you majored in, or you are fifty years old and want a more fulfilling career — it’s never too late. It just takes that first step.

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn — support systems are huge during such a big life change and I would love to help be that support for you!

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