Aisha Overholt’s first tech job isn’t what you’d typically expect from someone completing a software engineering program.
She started her job search early during the Career Curriculum course in her Kenzie Academy program from Southern New Hampshire University. She built a resume she was proud of and kicked off the process with enthusiasm and determination — and over time she learned to give herself grace. Applying for apprenticeships, internships, and junior roles grew to be a discouraging process.
Yet, her outlook changed when someone in her cohort was hired as a remote tutor for coding, moving her to shift the direction of her job search. She found Code Ninjas, a coding program that teaches children how to code while building video games. She applied, interviewed, and was hired as an instructor. It was a quick and positive experience, and Aisha was “thrilled to take this. It felt like a huge win.”
We met up with Aisha to talk about her journey into tech that was shaped by her most important role — being a mother. Family was the reason why she took a chance on tech and crossed the finish line into a world of positive change.
Curious about what it’s like to learn something new and change careers as a parent? Grab your favorite beverage, find a cozy spot, and read Aisha’s life-changing story.
Leaving behind a job in health care to focus more on her kids
I started right when COVID began in January 2020 in the registration department at Banner Health. I was really excited. This was something I’d never done before. Then COVID hit and things just changed. You went from maybe having a calm environment to a very stressful one. I was still grateful I had a job and everything was good, but throughout that next year I realized that when I got to be remote, I didn’t want to go back.
I didn’t want to miss out on these things with my kids anymore. They became more of my focus rather than being in an office or at the hospital just for my job. I was spending 40 hours a week away from them just to come home and be tired, and I didn’t want that anymore. So COVID played a huge role in that. It made me reach out and look at different options.
Inspired by her young daughters learning to code in school
My girls had done coding in school and they had to go remote. They were telling me how they build these games and they have to learn coding. I was like, that doesn’t sound like what I thought it was. So once they were telling me how they could do it, I thought OK, I think I can do that too because that sounds like fun.
So I downloaded an app and played with it. I would take it to swim lessons, to the gym, everywhere. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was great. I had that switch in my mind — even if it becomes difficult, it’s still worth the transition. I’m not happy with not having something that would give me more flexibility. That’s when I started researching and found Kenzie Academy.
Encouragement from her twins
When they were talking to me about it, they were very encouraging because they know that I’ve gone back to college a couple times, and I’ve done these different things. They could see my excitement with this and playing on the app. So they were asking me questions about where I was at and what I was learning. They tried to show me the website that they were using at school. I could not figure out how to build this game. I just couldn’t do it, and they were like pros, moving things around.
Proving to herself she could learn something new
I’d get really excited about it, and then the next day I would look at stuff online and think I don’t know if I can. Am I going to cut it? Am I smart enough or more capable? Can I do this?
Even that week of starting, in the back of my mind I was like OK, you can drop the first week and not be responsible for anything. It’s something new. It’s terrifying, but I pushed past that and I remembered why I was doing it.
No matter what came of it, I needed to complete it for myself at least to prove that I could learn something new. I ended up loving everything about it. The people I’ve met who have become really good friends online who help with this course. I don’t regret a minute of it. That panic during that first month was worth the rest of this program.
Finding balance and letting go of guilt
It has been a really hard balance — having to figure out how to spend as much time learning and being there for your kids, like their normal things, getting them to and from school. We did have to make adjustments where they have to ride the bus or things like that. My youngest son goes to his Nana’s more.
It was hard because you feel responsible, like you can do all of these things. In those first three months, getting rid of that guilt that I was missing out on things was probably my biggest struggle. But moving into those next three months, I could feel the difference. Learning was easier because I was creating these boundaries.
Support from her little ones
They’ve always been very proud. The girls have been my biggest cheerleaders because I try to communicate with them and tell them why I’m doing this. They were used to us hanging out all the time and going to the mall and Target. So I had to explain to them why I’m doing this, and they were really sweet.
Those three months afterward, they would root me on. If they saw me crying or heard me saying I was tired and I didn’t want to do things, they would flip it around for me. They’d say we know you can do this mom. You’re so smart. They have been really positive, uplifting, and encouraging.
“Those three months afterward, they would root me on. If they saw me crying or heard me saying I was tired and I didn’t want to do things, they would flip it around for me. They’d say we know you can do this mom. You’re so smart. They have been really positive, uplifting, and encouraging.”
-Aisha Overholt, Software Engineering ‘23
We had those off and ons where it was like this is unfair. I wish we could be doing these things. I stuck to my guns though. Once we got through that transition, it became the norm.
Finding a job opportunity that she didn’t imagine for herself
I started realizing that my journey is going to be different than everybody else’s. I do not need to get into a junior role or internship right now. I need to give myself grace, and this is a learning opportunity.
The fact that I get to go back and teach kids how to do software engineering and learn something that I’ve been learning and think is really important and fun. I have all the enthusiasm for it. I’m very proud of myself because I think everybody has those doubts. Am I ever going to make it into these roles that I want to get into? It’s one step at a time. You have to think outside of the box, and be happy with those goals and little wins that you get along the way.
Making the right life-changing decision
It was nerve-racking. In my case, I’m getting loans. I’m trying to make this decision. Is this going to be a good investment for me and my family? I 100% think it was because now I have this set of skills. Last July I couldn’t tell you anything. Even the game that the girls were doing, I couldn’t understand that.
So the fact that now I can create these web applications or just in general create things on my computer is incredible. I’m very proud. In a year and a half if you dedicate yourself to something, it’s amazing the result that you’re going to see at the end — and how proud you’re going to be of yourself.
Becoming a role model for her girls
One thing I did talk to the girls about through this journey is I never wanted them to think that they were not capable of doing something. It’s easy, especially for girls, to not be as interested in the sciences like computers or biology. They would complain about math.
This was a great way to always talk to them about how when things are hard, they’re not impossible. That was hugely important because I grew up with a grandfather that was an astronomer. We were always surrounded by science. That was me passing that onto the girls, telling them you do not have to grow up and have these limitations. I want you to see me accomplish something that’s big and important to me.
Maybe I’m not an astronomer, but I’m becoming a software engineer. They are perfectly capable of doing the same or going above their limits as well. This will always help us. They’ll see as I improve, they’re also capable of that self-improvement.
Be that inspiration that you’ve always wanted. There are people that look up to basketball players, they look up to somebody. When you have a family, you have to be that person. What you model is going to set the tone for everything else. If you’re unhappy where you’re at and you feel unfulfilled, think about how that must feel to those little ones that are watching you.
Doing it for future memories and experiences with her family
Even if it is hard and making the time is a struggle, it is always going to be the best decision. You just need to fully commit and understand that the time you’re missing right now is going to come back tenfold later. When you have a better job and maybe better finances, you’re able to do more of the things that will be memories, like experiences with your kids because you’re going to be able to provide more for them.
Find something that you enjoy and that you think is going to make the most difference. Software engineering — I knew for myself that would make the biggest life difference for us. Then fully commit to it because one or two years is really not that long. I don’t think [my children] will remember the hard stuff. They’re going to remember everything that comes afterward because of it. It will be a struggle, but in the end, it’s going to be worth it.
If Aisha’s story inspires you to go after a career in tech for your family, meet with a Kenzie Academy Admissions Counselor. Tell us about where you are now, where you hope to go, and why! We’ll help you find the right path for what you want in life.
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