So I Became an iOS Engineer

I know I haven’t written in forever, but I did promise myself I’d try to pick it up again this year, so here I am. Blogging might be dead but I’m not, and it used to be somewhat therapeutic for me to talk about my life in my safe space, so I might as well start with what I’ve been up to since I fell off the wagon.

Over the last ten years, struggling with such severe depression and anxiety, I’ve also had to deal with yet another side effect of that, a severe and chronic lack of energy.

This lack of energy has translated into making me a bit of a bad worker / corporate employee. I simply can’t sustain the kind of schedule that the 9-5, forty hour work week requires because I have long periods of little energy, and occasional bursts of energy where I’m able to maximise my productivity.

Consistency is a huge problem for me, and I’m honest enough to admit I have a problem with energy so I can do something about it.

I always had a plan for coming here. My main goal was generally, save a hundred thousand dollars, but I wasn’t super clear about how. Like I said, I was doing okay, but I was nowhere near having saved even twenty thousand, so despite leaving an expensive building I loved for a cheaper building I’m barely tolerating, I still needed to drastically increase my income.

Enter Software Engineering.

I’ve always loved computers, and though all my life, I’ve dabbled with programming, I never really considered making a career out of it, and I simply didn’t have the skills to do it on any serious level.

I went to school for business, but as an only child, the one thing I’m truly good at is learning new things and teaching myself, so after reading this article that said many of the original software engineers in Silicon Valley were self taught or didn’t study it in school, I decided to try and become an iOS Engineer.

Why iOS? Because I really liked my iPad.

It’s not some lofty reason, but I’ve loved the look of iOS apps since the first time I bought my iPad, and I actually bought my iPad solely because one single app: Zenbrush, so I knew immediately, once I made the decision to learn how to build iOS applications, that I wanted to become an iOS Engineer.

From my old job at an ad agency, I had heard about General Assembly from some people. It’s an in-person coding bootcamp in DC, and some of the people at the company attended and even worked there part time, so that the first thing I looked up.

Unfortunately, at the time, General Assembly was $15,950 upfront, and there was no way I could bear that kind of cost for something I didn’t even know if I would be good at, so the only place to learn to code I knew about was completely out of the question.

Then I remembered that while I was at the agency, someone had been hired as an engineer apprentice, who said she had learned how to code on Treehouse, so I decided to look into them, and I signed up for a monthly subscription to learn Swift and iOS Development at a much more affordable $25 a month, and started doing the Treehouse lessons every day on my commute to work.

Soon though, I hit a wall with the Treehouse lessons because even though I was learning all this Swift, and falling in love with it, I still didn’t understand how the Swift code I was learning translated into actually making an app.

By then I had joined several online groups about programming, and subscribed to subreddits on Reddit about Swift, iOS Development, and Computer Science and Programming careers to try and learn more. It was in one of these subreddits I stumbled on a post from Lambda School inviting people to a month long, free mini-course on iOS Development.

I quickly googled them, and I saw a lot of bad posts saying it was a scam, so I was really wary and almost closed it, but I really wanted to understand iOS and I wasn’t making much progress, so I read their post carefully, and it said the mini-course would be a live Youtube video at 8pm every night and you could follow along.

Once I saw it was on YouTube, I thought “Well, how are they going to scam me through YouTube? If I don’t like what they’re saying in the video, I can just close YouTube.” and I felt it was safe since I didn’t have to give my personal information or pay any money, and I could just be a passive watcher on YouTube, so I decided to do it and set my alarm for the daily lessons after work.

In the first lesson, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had downloaded Xcode and tried to use it before but never got anywhere because I had no clue what to do to make an app. To my pleasant surprise, they showed us how to make a very basic app that simply had three buttons named for different colours, and that changed the colour of the screen when pressed.

I can’t even begin to describe how thrilled I was. This was something I had been wracking my brain over and they showed me how to do it. There and then, I decided, scam or no scam, I was sha going to continue the lessons as long as they kept teaching me what I wanted to know.

That was in June of 2018. Back in February, I had liquidated the last of my cryptocurrency investments (since Bitcoin was falling anyway), and used the money to buy myself my first Macbook Pro.


I was anxious about doing that at the time but in retrospect, it was the right decision because right around that time I had hit a wall on my iOS lessons with Treehouse, and if I hadn’t had the MacBook when I found the Lambda School iOS preview, I wouldn’t have been able to follow along.

I ended up taking the exam to get into the full time Lambda School bootcamp to study iOS Engineering, and after a whirlwind of lessons, studying, exams, tears, cold emailing companies, networking, and more job applications and technical interviews than I care to remember, I got a job offer as an iOS Engineer at my dream company, negotiated $10,000 more on the base salary of my already six figure offer, and finally got my engineering wings.

My first work desk as an iOS Engineer

Yes, I’m still depressed, yes I still struggle with life in general, but I’m proud of myself for making this happen for myself, and clearing a path to a more financially secure future, which honestly has always been one of my big worries among other things.

My first day at work as an iOS Engineer

I haven’t felt like I’ve accomplished anything in maybe forever, but I did this, and right now I do something I really like every day for a living and get paid a lot of money for it, and I’m so happy that despite the difficulties in the rest of my life, at least this one major thing, I was able to do right for myself.

Please clap for me. 👏🏾👏🏾… 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾… 👏🏾

Again, again. 👏🏾👏🏾… 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾… 👏🏾

There are 13 comments

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  1. Mf

    Congratulations on your success! Your resilience is admirable and I wish you more wins. I hope that one day I can find my way out of this rabbit hole too and be proud of my achievements.

  2. Jo

    First of all, I love your blog. Secondly 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏
    This is commendable and very inspiring. Having that kind of tenacity while depressed is just… wow. Love you so much and wish you happiness and health.

  3. Chioma

    You write your feelings and that is the most honest way to write. This resonates with me as I am looking at my changing needs
    Thank you for this

    • sugabelly

      Thank you so much!!

      I hope you are well.

      I’m worried about you now in this time of Wuhan Virus. Please be safe in taking care of patients, and come out of this crisis healthy.

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