Building a Travel Agency, Joys of Middle Age, Learning Programming, Mid-Life Reinvention

Desperately Seeking a Career

It’s been 3,334 days or 9 years 1 month 16 days since I got laid off, but who’s counting?

In those 9+ years I got divorced; my daughter graduated high school; my son came back to live with me; my sociopathic ex-manfriend disappeared; my son moved back to Seattle; I met my current partner; I sold, gave away, donated, and threw away everything I owned except what fit in 2 suitcases and my dog to move to Italy (sans visa); my narcissistic ex-husband sued me to stop paying alimony; and finally I got a short 6-month study visa which combined with the 90-day tourist visa allows me to stay in Italy for 9 whole months this time. I’m ready to go home now. More on that later.

What do I need now? Well, since my money has dried up I need a career. It’s actually been on my mind every single day for the past 9+ years. But in what? It seems the only thing I’m an expert at is dreaming, traveling, and not working. I’m currently reading (actually, I am listening to it on my walks through AudibleOutliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and he says it takes 10,000 hours – roughly 10 years – to become an expert at something.

In 10.5 months I will be an expert at being unemployed. 

I started codecademy last summer while hanging out in Slovenia. I’m an educational junkie so signed up for the paid version with the quizzes and projects. Those were fun! And I liked it! But at some point, it occurred to me I wasn’t retaining what I was learning because I was being walked through everything. Additionally, I was tired of spending the $19.99 or whatever it was every month.

This led me to LinkedIn and the Veteran’s Mentor Network where I saw a post about a coding Bootcamp in Chicago. The first phase of their application process is to go to freecodecamp and do some of their curricula. They have a nifty program where you go from basically being a couch potato to a full stack developer through tutorials, assignments, challenges, to working on projects for non-profits. The program is free. BINGO!

I am working on the Front End Development Certification which covers:

Completed

  • HTML5 and CSS
  • Responsive Design with Bootstrap
  • jQuery
  • Basic Front End Development Projects
    • Build a Tribute Page
    • Build a Personal Portfolio Webpage
  • Basic JavaScript
  • Object Oriented and Functional Programming
  • Basic Algorithm Scripting
  • JSON APIs and Ajax
  • Intermediate Front End Development Projects
    • Build a Random Quote Machine
    • Show the Local Weather
    • Build a Wikipedia Viewer
    • Use the Twitch.tv JSON API

Still Have to Do

  • Intermediate Algorithm Scripting
  • Advanced Algorithm Scripting
  • Advanced Front End Development Projects
    • Build a JavaScript Calculator
    • Build a Pomodoro Clock
    • Build a Tic Tac Toe Game
    • Build a Simon Game
  • Claim My Front End Development Certificate

I will post a portfolio of my projects one of these days. I just spent four hours trying to do it. Nope. It needs to be re-engineered because guess what? I actually learned something and know it can be better!

After I complete the Front End Certificate there is Data Visualization Certification, Back End Development Certification, Video Challenges, Full Stack Development Certification, and Coding Interview Preparation. Phew!

I truly appreciate the opportunity to learn for free, but as I struggled through the Local Weather project I kept thinking I was too stupid for this field. The Weather project took me months (I started in October and finished in March) to figure out how to work geolocation on a secure server with a weather API on a non-secure server. What a nightmare! Let’s just say browsers don’t play nice with geolocation and APIs.

I keep having these thoughts:

  1. I enjoy front-end development a lot
  2. I am too old to find a job (51 years old now – yikes!)
  3. I am slow

Slower than molasses.

Programming does not come naturally to me, I am NOT in love with the computer, I am NOT an introvert, I do NOT enjoy sitting for hours and hours on end, and most importantly I do NOT appreciate being made to feel stupid because of some 18-year-old boy is an ***hole who knows he knows more than me. And then there’s this other reason here.

This made me stop, again, with freeCodeCamp. I ended up going to Florence for a month to get a certificate to teach English as a foreign language. The idea was to get a job teaching English AND make some money. Did that happen? I spent over $5,000 on everything. I have the certificate. I don’t have a job. Nor am I making money. I’m spending it.

Maybe I ought to figure out what would really make me happy work-wise. What is it that I’m good at? I can’t think of anything. Nada, niente, zilch, nothing. Maybe traveling.

Except I have no contacts. How do I get contacts? And I don’t want to just be an order taker. I want to plan custom vacations. But, do I really want to do that or do I want to lead small groups to Italy? Do I want that liability?

Maybe I should just read What Color Is Your Parachute?

Then I started back up with freeCodeCamp because I saw a post by someone who has been in IT for 25 years, and they put together a “roadmap” to follow. She made 3 or 4 roadmaps. I decided on the Web Development with Computer Science Basics. I got through Beginning HTML/CSS and am now on cs50x via Harvard on edX. It’s free. I’m on pset2, and again feel stupid. I put it aside to work on I don’t know…. Caked on Makeup and Vacation Boutique or Sip & Savor Italy or Voyages to Italy or Spas and Seas.

I keep going back and forth…

Chaos ensues!

A couple weeks ago I decided I do indeed want to start up a travel agency. The right way.

I want to be super successful. For the first time.

I found a program online for travel agents to define their niche and ideal client. It moves on to marketing, customer care, and goal-setting and mindset. I’ve started this.

And then….

What about that great idea I have for dogs?

Or for an Italian piano bar in Florida?

Oh, wait, what about freelance web development?

How about being a companion for a day in Italy? I thought about women traveling alone, perhaps by cruise ship, who want to venture off-the-beaten-track but not alone. With another American woman who lives there.

It’s no wonder I can’t accomplish anything. I’m confused.

The Deal I’ve Made with Myself

Since I have loads of time and nothing to do with it I shall spend four hours per day on building the travel idea and four hours per day on the web development training. If I have energy after that I shall research my dog idea. If I have energy after that I shall research the Italian import/piano bar in Florida idea.

I have determined I will probably spend lots of time on the SBA and SCORE websites for the latter two ideas.

When I have completed the Make Money Selling Travel Blueprint, or gotten to a point where it makes sense to join with a host agency I shall do that, or if I get to a point that I feel I can survive an IT interview I shall do that.

Yes, I’m still confused. I think in time I will have my much-desired clarity.

Namaste.

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