From a marketer dream to a software engineer dream
By Xavier Mod on 15th April, 2020 · 6 min read
How I went from wanting to be a marketing guru to be a software engineer (unintentionally)
Another high-school dropout.
When I was in high school, I didn't like to study. I preferred to spend my time doing something else like playing videogames, guitar... books weren't my thing, and was also very lazy by nature. And one day my life collapsed when I was about to take my final exams before getting into University because I decided to drop out. Just right before my final exams that would possibly get me a decent grade to attend University (though I had no idea what I wanted to do). I remember those days as a very dark time in my life: almost depressed, unmotivated, feeling lost... and also at that point my mum said the worst thing I could hear at that time: "Well if you don't want to study, then you need start working". And the options weren't many. But something deep inside of me kept telling me I wanted to go to University one day. Maybe not at that time, but something inside of me was telling me.
Exploring which options I had, I fell in love with marketing.
So I decided I did not want to start working yet, I wanted to keep studying. However, my options weren't many. I couldn't go to University because I had dropped out and couldn't do any higher education studies because I had dropped out and was not old enough. That's how I ended up in an "Accounting/business fundamentals" basic course. My coursemates were people way younger than me that didn't take the course seriously, but I did. I knew that if I took that 2-year course I could access a higher level of education where I could study Marketing, and even maybe go to University one day. And one day I saw that I could access this 2-year Marketing higher education course through some exams, rather than waiting another year to finish the course I was doing. And so I did. Studied everything on my own, with no help but myself, until I passed all modules with good grades and got into the Marketing course. For me, Marketing was a whole new world of creativity, entrepreneurship, research, successful stories... that just hooked me up since I first heard of it. I loved every single module I was doing, read hundreds of marketing books, attended conferences all over Barcelona... it was the first time in my life I felt I found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
When Marketing became evil, Design showed me the way.
But yet another day, everything changed again. The more I kept reading about Marketing, the more I realized it wasn't for me. I realized how money is a fundamental key in marketing practices and how evil marketing can become. I don't want to go into extensive detail about what made me realize it, just felt that the passion I had been pursuing for over two years didn't fulfill me anymore. And that's when Graphic Design and UI Design came into play. I had always been interested in design software, video editing software... but never got properly into it and never felt I was good enough. Until I slowly started using my marketing knowledge into simple ideas where I could start practicing my design skills. Suddenly, I felt happy again. I had found myself in UI Design and started taking online courses on Sketch, mobile design, motion graphics... while still doing my marketing course. The marketing course had a placement option and I decided to take it. After lots of calls and meetings telling my tutors I wanted a design placement (with less marketing involved), my tutor got me an Internship as a Visual / Branding Designer at a small startup based in Barcelona. And... yes. Here we go again.
The startup world changed me forever.
Me, someone who dropped out a few years ago before getting into University and an absolute tech lover, was now right at the startup wild world. Even felt I did not deserve it. Co-working spaces, relax rooms, sprints, meetings, calls, client visits, moving to bigger offices, hanging out and partying with my colleagues... I felt like a whole different person. I loved what I was doing. Soon after my first months I became a UI Designer and was in charge of designing several products. Everything was amazing. But, even when I fell I was finally where I needed to be, something inside of me was telling me how amazing the job of our front-end developer was, which eventually turned out to be a very close friend of mine and the first developer I looked up to. I liked designing interfaces, but being able to see how someone next to me was bringing those designs to life sparked an interest in me. While still being convinced UI Design was my future career, I kept getting more interested in programming. I did not code, though. I just liked how the dev team talked about what they did.
University introduced me to programming, and I finally realized this is what life got for me.
The placement was over. Higher education was over. I could finally go to University. After several years of fighting for it, I finally managed to get it. And I wasn't going to stay in my comfort zone. After some years of challenging myself, that was not an option. I decided to pursue one of my lifelong dreams: the United Kingdom. I was suddenly on a plane to Heathrow airport ready to start my new stage of life; a BSc in Digital Design at Brunel University London. There was a lot of UI Design involved in the modules I'd be taking and some programming ones, which I didn't mind taking. "I'm going to be doing what my mates were doing at the startup. So exciting!". But then... everything changed one more time. The moment I started coding was the moment I finally realized who I was. I kept enjoying it more and more, started buying online courses, books, everything I could. Udemy, codeacademy, freecodecamp, reddit groups, github, the open source community... I kept coding and I'm not planning to stop. Also, UI Design will always be a very fundamental part of my skillset.
All the pieces fit together now.
I now know that software engineering is the world I was looking for. It's vastness, fast-growing environment and complexity make me feel I'm part of the computing revolution, something that I have never felt before. Having worked as a professional UI Designer and studying a degree focused on it has given me invaluable knowledge that will be extremely useful for the rest of my development career. And studying marketing has expanded my skill set in areas like entrepreneurship, product launch, teamwork, SEO, SEM, branding... and many others!