In this article, Senior Solution Engineer Liz Palanisamy explains her unique journey to becoming a full-stack React developer, and how her path led her to low-code development.
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With a bachelor's degree in Cell/Molecular Biology, working my way into the IT industry was a different path for me.
To get my foot in the door, I enrolled in a Quality Assurance certification course taught by a woman in India. Every night at 6 pm for one month, I would log on to meet her and learn about QuickTest Professional, Manual Testing, and different types of automation testing.
By the end of the training, I sent my resume to over 100 companies and was finally accepted as a QA Engineer at a small payment processing company called OrthoBanc in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
But quality assurance was never what I saw myself doing long term. My dream was to be writing the code that powered the applications. Quality assurance was simply for me to understand how to debug, and learn how code worked, as I had never taken a single computer science course.
I began taking online courses after my full time job every night until I completed a self-paced Front End Web Developer Bootcamp where I built several applications on my own. Next, a colleague of mine helped me set up VS Code on my work laptop and helped me learn how to run our repository.
On a separate branch on some down time one day, I decided to make some front end upgrades to our website and I showed them off to my boss while also asking for a promotion as a Junior Web Developer.
The promotion went through and within a year I was a valuable member of the development team, completing stories, adding new features, and always learning.
That is about the same time when our company began looking at OutSystems low-code development platform as a new technology to add to our stack. Some teammates began training in OutSystems, while other seasoned veterans began looking for new jobs using their current tech stack.
After working so hard to become a Front End Developer, and also being interested in moving back to Texas, I chose to switch companies and relocate.
The missing link in traditional programming
As years passed, I continued to grow my skill set in ReactJS, Java, I even dabbled in React Native and built several web and mobile applications for a couple of different companies including Charles Schwab and Apple.
I mostly worked as a contractor, but I was forever searching to prove myself capable of holding a Full Stack, full-time developer role.
But to be honest, even once I achieved this, I still felt out of place in the IT industry and with my coworkers. Not only because of gender, although most times I was the only female on my team, but most times I was the only outgoing member of my team.
Conversations were usually very short with coworkers, there were few interruptions throughout the day, and I was often trapped in my head, just me and my code. Had I worked for 7 years in IT just to feel isolated and left out?
I needed to reconnect with the people that originally helped me start my career.
I reached out to the Lead Developer at my first developer role in Tennessee. It turned out, he was now working for AutoLiv, a customer of OutSystems in Europe. And apparently, a handful of the developers at OrthoBanc were also making a career as OutSystems developers.
I couldn’t believe my ears -- he had 100% turned into a low-code “fanatic”. This conversation convinced me to start my own studying of OutSystems, and begin applying for low-code jobs. The way I saw it, my career trajectory included being a Solution Architect and it didn’t matter if that happened in high-code or low-code, as long as I reached the goal.
Becoming a low-code developer
Eight months after joining OutSystems as a Senior Solution Engineer, I have to say I haven’t been happier in a developer-like role ever in my career.
Low-code brought the fun back to coding.
By extracting all the repetitive processes and making so much code reusable, it encourages me to spend time building new ideas. If you haven’t tried low-code for yourself, I encourage you to follow the link, and set up a trial environment for free.
Looking back at my career, I would put all my IT skills on a tree, with each unique skill clustered into different branches. Low-code definitely falls within its own branch, but that doesn’t mean all the other skills I have learned along the way aren’t useful anymore.
Choosing to switch to a career in low-code will never make my prior experience obsolete. I find ways to use my past experience everyday, whether it be helping a prospective customer realize their application or building a new application that incorporates a customized Forge component. I am very proud of my unique entry into low-code and I look forward to where this journey will take me.