Editor's note: As part of our pledge to help 1 million Europeans find a job or grow their business by 2020, the Developer Scholarship Challenge has awarded over 60,000 Udacity scholarships to aspiring European coders. Anne-Christine Lefort, a former veterinarian from Western France, is among our scholars who has used her newly learned skills to launch a new career. This is her story.
I'm a 51-year-old mother of two young children, and after winning a Google and Udacity Developer Scholarship, I'm finally fulfilling my lifelong ambition to work with computers. Most nights, I stay up late learning how to build apps.
Becoming an Android programmer is very different from my professional background in veterinary medicine. As a child, I was always interested in science, math and physics. I used a computer for the first time in high school in the 1980s (it was an Apple II!). I used it to play Space Invaders, but my teacher also taught me some programming basics and I knew instantly that I wanted to pursue computers further.
At that time, however, the only real-life applications of computer programming were in banking or insurance, which didn’t really appeal to me. So instead, I studied veterinary medicine at Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Lyon, followed by 15 years of working across a variety of laboratory roles.
After my second maternity leave, I returned to work and found that another company had bought the laboratory. My position had completely changed and I decided to take a leap and find something new. But as a woman over 45 and living in a small village in Western France, finding a job as a vet was difficult, and it was impossible to find a position that was flexible enough to accommodate family life.
Without uprooting my family, the only option was to start my own business. I had never lost my interest in computers, so I started building websites for local businesses from home. This offered huge advantages—it allowed me to be at home for the children, working while they were at school and into the evenings.
Though I was using WordPress to build websites and modifying HTML and CSS, my interest in apps and programming still burned strong. I wanted to learn more. In 2017, I saw an ad announcing the Google Developer Scholarship initiative, sponsored by Google and Udacity. This was exactly the kind of opportunity I had been looking for—to learn new digital skills and apply them in my career. I enrolled in the Android Basics Nanodegree Program, and within the first month, I had built an app!
Today, I’m learning new skills all the time and using them to grow my business. As well as working with clients, I want to build apps for children that will help them read and learn math and other languages. I'm also researching the development of an app for the veterinary industry given my knowledge and experience in this field.
Thanks to the Google and Udacity scholarship, I’ve been able to turn my new skills into the job of my dreams, while still being present for my children when they need me. I wanted to prove that a 51-year-old mom living remotely in the forest can become an Android programmer, and today I can proudly say I realized this goal. Moving forward I want to inspire others and show them that with passion and determination anything is possible.