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Zuzana is standing with a microphone, behind her there is a sign saying Laracon. She is wearing a yellow knitted jumper, blue jeans, and a blue headscarf.

I was never technical. Never interested in computers and how they work, or what we can do with them.

I spent a few years working in the international shipping industry but when I had my children, I realised that having a job in shipping that would allow me to work while looking after my children was going to be very difficult.

I decided to take some time off and pursue a psychology degree hoping it would open more doors.

I love psychology – I love learning about what makes people tick and how some aspects of human cognition work. Studying psychology made me realise I am a lifelong learner, I love learning new things and pushing forward. I had big plans! I wanted to go into research, and maybe even do a masters and a doctorate degree in cognitive psychology.

But while I completed my bachelor’s degree from home with no issues, when it came to continuing my education I didn’t have the time or money needed to study further. And I couldn’t find a job that would allow me to work around my – still very young – children either.

So when I had my third child, I decided I had to change my career once again. This time I was going to be more intentional and do more research. I couldn’t afford to change career yet again only to find myself facing the same type of problems. I looked for a way to earn my living from home, with a flexible set-up so I could be there for my children.

And this is how I found web development. Becoming a developer looked straightforward – all I needed was a computer and an internet connection. And there seemed to be plenty of people working from their homes even before the pandemic. With the help of various online courses and tutorials, I slowly started discovering the joys of HTML and CSS, and before I knew it, I was deep down in PHP, WordPress, and Laravel.

I started attending local meetups to meet other developers. While I could learn the technical side of development by myself, I wanted to be a part of the larger community.

As I got to know the tech community, I realised I could hardly find anyone I could relate to – a woman, a mother, or someone who changed their career in their late 30s. Tech is a male-dominated industry, and while I never had any negative experience, I didn’t feel like I belonged.

This led me to founding Larabelles, a non-profit community for PHP and Laravel developers under-represented due to their gender. Thanks to Larabelles, I no longer feel like I don’t belong. I found my people, people who helped me see I could be a developer regardless of where I come from, gender, age, or life circumstances.

I met many wonderful people along my way and one of those people was Simon from Studio 24. We got to know each other and stayed in touch, and eventually, I accepted a job at Studio 24. The agency’s focus on accessibility and working with arts, education and charity organisations, among others, fits really well with my own interests.

Over the years I worked on some fascinating projects, and I continue learning and improving every day. I wish I could shout from the rooftops that you don’t need to be technical, you don’t need a computer science degree, and you can find a great career in technology – there is a space for everyone. Just give it a try.