Like most military spouses, Julia Taylor followed her husband, doing the all-too-familiar Permanent-Change-of-Station shuffle, moving three times in only five years. While she was proud to be a part of the military community, it was frustrating to put her own career on the backburner.
“One of the big sacrifices that I made was with my career because of how much we moved; I couldn’t keep the job that I had,” Taylor recounts. “Plus, every time we moved, all the packing and unpacking and logistics of moving I ended up doing, which was another job in itself.”
Everything changed, however, when her boss at the time asked her to make some adjustments to a website. Never one to back down from a challenge, Taylor quickly slipped into research mode, hitting Google and YouTube to teach herself how to code.
“It’s like learning a foreign language, but it’s a computer language,” she explains. “Some of it makes complete sense and is super easy, and some is hard, just like learning any foreign language.”
She was hooked.
This skill that Hollywood portrayed as being only for geniuses behind a wall of computer screens was not that difficult to learn – plus it was, dare she say, fun! But most importantly, she had accomplished something she never dreamed she’d do, and that confidence allowed her to dream bigger.
“Never once in a million years did I think I would start my own business and be an entrepreneur,” Taylor said. “I went looking for a job with my new skills but because I didn’t have a degree in computer science or 20 years experience, I hit a dead end. A friend who was retiring from the military asked me to build him a website for his new business. Going out on my own was actually better than I anticipated versus getting an employee position that was remote work.”
READ: ENPP offers one-on-one career assistance for life after the military
Armed with her in-demand coding skills, Taylor finally had the freedom to create a career that was her own, that wasn’t temporary, that paid well, that was PCS-proof. When her husband retired, they took to the open road and explored the USA in an RV over a leisurely two-year jaunt. From the beaches of Florida to the splendor of the Grand Canyon, Taylor would crack open her laptop to code, working when she wanted to, while quietly building her business.
Friends were curious. How on earth could she be in vacation mode while running a business? Realizing that other women could benefit from the power of coding, Taylor decided to share her knowledge and help build a group of successful women coders supporting one another. And thus GeekPack was born.
“Creating the GeekPack community has easily been the single most important thing that I’ve done, to make sure that other women didn’t feel the way that I did when I was alone trying to learn to code,” Taylor said. “I wanted women to have a safe place where they could ask any and all questions, where they could be encouraged and supported and helped along the way.”
Since 2018, GeekPack has helped over 2500 women, including many military spouses, change their lives for the better through coding.
Website coding is an in-demand skill that is highly marketable and quite lucrative, with hourly rates for seasoned coders ranging from $75 – 150+ an hour. That, coupled with the ability to work wherever and whenever, makes coding more PCS-proof than other fields.
“The majority of what you do on a daily basis, such as banking, buying online, watching TV or using your smartphone, has a firm foundation in code. The demand is only going to increase which is why coding is so hot right now,” Taylor said.
For her, though, it’s the community and confidence that coding has brought to her life she cherishes most, along with seeing other women who had put their own aspirations in the backseat for their partner’s military careers, suddenly blossom with a new-found sense of purpose that comes with being your own boss.
“Moving every few years with PCS, it’s hard getting into communities of new friends,” she notes, “but having an online community that is there for you, no matter where you are in the world, is invaluable.”
If you’re looking to learn a new skill that can help you create a location-independent business, GeekPack® https://geekpack.co/ has a number of resources to help you get started.
This story was written by Larissa Banting