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Student Stories: Learning to Code with ADHD during COVID-19

May 28, 2020

5 min read

Written by Sennah Yee

We chatted with Sui Young, a recent graduate of Juno’s Web Development Immersive Bootcamp. Only 1 month after graduating, Sui landed her dream job as a Web Developer.

Sui vividly remembers the first time she was interested in coding when she was 6 years old. Her parents had bought a computer so her mother could work from home.

“I was amazed by her typing on the keyboard; she could make the machine talk back to her the way she wanted to. I remembered that feeling when she taught me to access the built-in snake game myself, like I was the magician’s apprentice.”

To this day, coding feels a little bit like making magic happen!

Before Juno, Sui was a realtor and graphic designer. While Sui enjoyed her job, it was inconsistent, unstable, and not financially worth the amount of effort she was putting in.

“I craved stability, and the ability to work in a career where, so long as I had a job, I could count on growth and income month to month.”

It was time to make a change! “I told friends and family I’d be gone for a few months because I was changing careers,” Sui says. “Happily, everyone was supportive and encouraging."

Before contacting Juno, Sui researched other learning options.

“I was actually going to try to save money to go to another Toronto-based coding bootcamp. There were a few factors that went into why I wound up choosing Juno:

1) Financial Reasons: It was going to take a long time for me to save up the full cash amount for me to attend the other coding bootcamp, and it was urgent for me to make a critical life decision to work towards a more secure future.

2) The Workload: It had been a long while since I was last in school, and I’d heard lots of stories about students staying up impossibly late nightly, even spending the night on the campus, only to wake up and start class again the next day bright and early. I had to make a commitment to my mental health, and I considered Juno’s course load and expectations much more reasonable for my capacity and ability at the time.

3) Juno’s Commitment to Inclusivity: Being a queer and AFAB person, this along with the desire to break into what has been traditionally a very cis male-centric industry was very important to me - especially given that I was essentially pushed out of even trying when I made my first attempt at programming in high school.”

Student Stories

About Sui’s Journey

  • Before Juno


  • After Juno

    Developer (Consultant)

  • Currently

    Developer (Consultant)

    Open Minds

Soon enough, Sui applied and was accepted into Juno’s Winter 2020 Bootcamp - but her journey into tech wasn’t without its twists and turns! Partway through, Juno transitioned to a Live Online format due to COVID-19. One month into self-isolation, Sui received her official diagnosis for ADHD.

“Growing up with ADHD, it was often hard for me to focus - but I learned patterns and behaviours that would help me skate by most days without notice. Like many who aren’t diagnosed or have more obvious symptoms, I got really good at pretending to be 'neurotypical.' When in fact, there was a near constant storm of thoughts and ideas demanding my attention inside my head.”

I am neurodivergent. I am very capable of learning, adapting, and functioning though my tools may be different.

Sui's toolset for learning to code with ADHD includes:

  • making routine to-do lists and reminders
  • taking notes by hand
  • gamifying lessons by creating personal challenges (e.g. "Can I make a to-do list into a chat application with React and Firebase? Or, What would it take to make a side scrolling game with JQuery?")

Sui saus that clearing her life for Bootcamp helped to simplify her days with structures and routines.

“Thank goodness Juno prioritized breaks as much as they prioritized everything else!” Sui says. “Breaks have been fundamental in the conservation of the mental energy needed to maintain focus for a longer period of time without burning out.”

After class, Sui liked to stay to work alongside her classmates, get help, give help, or work on an assigned project.

"The infectious energy of my cohort made me able to work longer and more efficiently. It’s for this reason that I genuinely attribute a lot of my love for development to the energy of my cohort.”

After weeks of hard work, Sui graduated Juno’s Bootcamp with brand new skill sets such as jQuery, Firebase, and React - and an impressive portfolio of work to show them off.

“I believe it was a combination of the community at Juno, my adherence to my own learning structure, as well as the resources and learning materials of Juno’s framework that has come together to help me achieve what successes I’ve experienced thus far,” Sui says.

The experience of Bootcamp left me feeling full and accomplished every day, allowing for progress in quick and consistent bursts of understanding and application. And alongside my understanding, my confidence grew with it.

Only one month after graduation, Sui landed her dream job as a Web Developer at Open Minds.

“I couldn’t believe that I got the job, and I don’t think it actually hit me at least for a few days after I received the offer. I had a giant goofy grin from ear to ear from then on.”

Sui has only just started, but has already been busy at work:

“I've done a little graphic design, helped rubber duck for an application in React native, and have been learning a whole lot around SEO, web optimization, and while also working through the onboarding process in a remote position!”

When asked about a challenge that she faced during her journey into tech and how she overcame it, Sui reflected on the shutdowns due to COVID-19.

“I would have to say balance. When the shutdowns happened, one thing I knew was that if I stopped, I’d find it incredibly difficult to get back on track with work, practice, and job hunting. So I never really stopped. I have been working through tutorials, job hunting, maintaining my networks, and going to as many virtual conferences as I could muster - while also taking time to rest, do other things, and make sure that the people I care about aren’t neglected.

The shutdown made things a lot more tough, while also giving me no space for excuses for the standard of productivity I hold for myself. Finding a balance between working, practicing, and rest (and not feeling guilty for not coding) was a big challenge, especially when my coping mechanism around stressful situations I can’t control, is to work at something I can.”

Sui’s advice for those looking to get into tech?

“I always say the same thing: becoming a developer relies on persistence; it’s not going to be easy but it will pay off. Stick with it. Have some humility; you’re not going to be expected to succeed on the first try. Try yourself first, but also know when to ask for help."

Sui also stresses the importance of enjoying the process of learning, as well as keep in mind that everyone's journeys are different:

One of the highlights of being a developer is that you are forever a student. If you love learning, absorbing, trying and failing, and then trying again until you succeed? You’ll find yourself happy, and successful in a short amount of time.

"I'm often asked how long it took for me to become a developer," Sui adds. "While I understand that time is of the essence for many, I think the greater question is: How much time would it take for you to become a good developer? Everyone learns differently, and at different paces. Knowing this about yourself, in my opinion is crucial.”

What’s next for Sui?

“In five years, I’d like to earn the position of Senior Front-End Developer. If I’m lucky, along the way I’ll have opportunities to dabble in, work with, or learn a little about back end and maybe begin considering whether I can call myself a Full-Stack Developer.

I’d love for my cohort to remain close, and to continue to support one another over the next 5 years and beyond. Once the COVID-19 shutdowns end, the possibilities are endless. And for now, that’s what I’m dreaming about: endless possibilities. Thank you Juno and Cohort 25 for helping to make this a reality for me.”

Looking to Kickstart your Tech Career like Sui?

At Juno we’re the experts in helping people with non-technical backgrounds build careers as web developers. Download our free Kickstart Your Tech Career Package to find out everything you need to know about breaking into the booming tech industry:

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This Student Story features excerpts from Sui's blog:

Learning to Code with ADHD: Lists

Connect with Sui below:

Sui Young's portfolio

Sui Young's Twitter

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