After taking time off from work to raise her two children, Natacha Springer found it hard to re-enter the workforce. She had spent years as a successful Biotech Production Manager, yet she was now only receiving offers for entry-level roles. Finding herself drawn to coding and encouraged by the stories of work-life balance that she heard from developer friends, she decided it was time to expand her coding education to open up new job possibilities—she joined Flatiron School’s Web Development Fellowship in 2014. She now works as a Cloud Operations Engineer at Kickstarter, splitting her time between working remotely and out of Kickstarter’s sunny Greenpoint office.
Springer was kind enough to take a few moments away from her dual roles as engineer and busy mother to talk to us about learning to code and finding a career she loves.
Can you touch on your career before taking time off?
Before taking time off to raise my kids (18 months and 3 years old at the time), I was a busy Biotech production manager for a nutritional supplement company. There wasn't much flexibility and managing young kids who often got sick and a busy career quickly became difficult. I was lucky enough to be able to take time off and spend my time raising them.
Why was learning to program the right decision for you?
As my kids got older and were about to start school, it was the best time for me to rejoin the workforce. While I was at home and my kids were sleeping, I often found myself learning to code for fun and started to really enjoy it—so transitioning to become a developer quickly made sense. Now, looking back I realize that I am extremely passionate about what I do. I work in Cloud operations, a relatively new field using cutting-edge technologies and I am challenged every day… in a good way!
Did you intend to change careers? How has programming affected that path?
When I decided to go back to work, I was hoping to find a job as a manager, but unfortunately the message that I was getting was that I had been out of the workforce for too long and it would be a 'risk' for them to hire me. I got offers but mostly for entry-level positions at a fraction of the pay I used to make. I had programmer friends who would travel the world while working remotely, so from the start I knew that working as a programmer would provide me a certain degree of flexibility with my schedule.
Have you experienced more flexibility in your career since transitioning into programming? Do you feel a sense of work-life integration?
The journey has been incredible! I started working full-time at Dow Jones right after graduating at Flatiron School, but after “showing them what I could do,” I renegotiated my schedule and was able to spend more time at home as a result. I recently started to work for Kickstarter and they have been incredibly understanding and offered me a flexible schedule from day one. I work one day from home so I can pick up my kids from the school bus, see their faces light up when they see me there, listen to them tell me about their day, and after they go to bed at 7.30pm or so, I get back to work!I also have one day off during the week which allows me to catch up on all the 'not-so-fun' motherhood duties like cleaning, taking kids to doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, etc. As a result, I get to do a job that I love and spend time with my kids. I really get the best of both worlds and have truly found work-life balance!
What advice would you give to women who are interested in re-entering the workforce or transitioning careers after taking time off to raise children?
Taking time off to raise kids offers the best opportunity to reflect on your past career, start learning new skills, and, if you can, start doing what you really love.
Interested in learning to code and moving into a fulfilling tech career like Natacha? Get started today on Learn.co.