We are excited to share a recent interview with a talented and inspiring person who has overcome tremendous obstacles in life to achieve success in her career. Our guest, Tabby Garcia, is a Full Stack Web Developer, who has worked for companies that give back to the community and help people in need. She started her career by attending a coding bootcamp at The University of Texas, and now works for ViB. The company gives back to homelessness coalitions and provides clean water in Africa. Additionally, our guest is passionate about diversity and learning from people with different backgrounds.
In this interview, Tabby shares her story of resilience and perseverance. She opens up about her challenging childhood, her journey to finding her purpose, and the lessons she has learned along the way. We hope this interview will inspire others who may be facing obstacles to pursue their dreams and overcome their fears.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – growing up, living life and where you are today?
I am from Houston, Texas but also lived in a bit of my childhood in Mire Duson, Louisiana. I identify as Hispanic, but really I am a mutt. Growing up was not easy. I lived in a small trailer with my bipolar grandmother, I was surrounded by addicts, my mother passed away from an overdose at the age of 13, and my dad passed away when I was 1. There was no real mentor or parent figure until I moved in with my grandfather after my mom passed.
Living with her in Houston changed my entire life. I finally was surrounded by love and had a new vision of how I wanted to live my life. I finished high school, and went to community college and got my associates in Science. I moved to Austin, Texas after school in hopes of becoming a biologist, but school was too expensive and I was paying for my education. As I became an adult, I struggled with deciding on what I wanted to do. My whole life I worked as a bartender trying to save up for something bigger, but being a bartender and being in that (nightlife) scene, has its toll, at least for me. I drank a lot, experimented with drugs, and on top of that, my mental health was in shambles. I also worked odd jobs here and there, cleaning houses, walking dogs, anything just to make ends meet. I wasn’t living, I was simply surviving.
After having my final rock bottom moment, I decided I wanted to change and make some serious moves. Fast forward a bit, I met the love of my life in 2019. We had the same goals and dreams for ourselves and we believed in each other. One day, we decided we would go to coding bootcamp at The University of Texas. It peaked our interest and we wanted to get out of the service industry and make money. That was one of the most challenging obstacles I’ve ever encountered in my life. I had no experience and didn’t even know how to type properly. With blood, sweat, and tears we graduated and landed our first Web Developer jobs a year later, mid-pandemic. The pandemic was hard for a lot of people, but for me, I looked at it as an opportunity to grow my skill at home, day in and day out. I couldn’t bartend anymore, so I was putting all that time into building and learning.
One of the many reasons we decided this path was because it would give us the opportunity to travel and work remotely. We both wanted to eventually move to Mexico because of our love for the culture. Fast forward into 2023, we now live in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico (part time in Austin) and travel to beautiful places all the time. We made our dream a reality.
How did you choose your career? Is your career what you thought it would be when you first started?
I chose my career because it’s creative, inspiring, and fulfilling. My first job in my new career was working with the National Domestic Violence Hotline as their web developer. It exceeded my expectations. I knew it was going to be difficult applying my new skillset and learning all the new technologies I would be using, but it was worth it for me. I now work for ViB as a Full Stack Web Developer and they also give back to people in need, including homelessness coalitions and clean water in Africa. It’s really inspiring.
I feel like working for companies that give back to the community in some shape or form, helping people, gives me more of a purpose and motivation. Companies that have culture and diversity also plays a key role for me because it’s important to learn from different people with different backgrounds.
What was your journey like to get to where you are in your career?
There was a lot of adversity I was faced with time and time again, mountains and valleys I had to get through to get to where I am. I didn’t want to be scared or sad anymore, so I took a chance on something I thought was bigger than me and signed up for that class. If I failed, so what? That’s just life. You get back up and try again, do it better. I got to know myself on a deeper level about who I was, what I was capable of, and what I wanted for myself. Even at the job I work at now, I almost didn’t show up for my final interview because I was scared. Scared that I wasn’t enough, scared that I would look like a fool if I didn’t know a question they asked. I still went through it though despite doubting myself, and I’m more than happy I did. Learning to trust myself and have confidence is something I strive to get better at everyday, because beautiful things start to gravitate to you when you believe in yourself.
When did you realize you were going in the right direction, professionally?
When I landed my first job in tech. It was such a sense of accomplishment, like everything I worked for day and night finally paid off.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been anything but a smooth road for me. I would say the biggest challenge for me was overcoming my own fear of not being good enough. I’m my harshest critic. I have to remind myself to take it easy and allow myself a break every now and then. Take time to reflect on how much I’ve already done and be proud of it.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in your career or life in general?
I would say for my career, imposter syndrome. And for life, just getting through the low, rough moments.
What was a pivotal moment in your career that led you to where you are now?
Leaving my last job to take care of my grandfather. It was a difficult decision, because I loved my job, but family comes first, especially my grandfather. He couldn’t afford care in the US, so my husband and I had a plan to take him to Mexico to receive his dementia care and to be there for him. The job I had did not allow me to move to another country with the way things were set up. When we got him down there I started the whole job applying process again, which is a job in itself. I was worried that I wouldn’t land a job quickly enough and starting all over with a new company put me out of my comfort zone. But I sort of threw out the idea of being in my comfort zone very quickly. I thought, well I’m already in a new country, not speaking my native tongue, let me boss up and focus on getting a new job. Months later it all paid off again at a new company. Moved up from being a frontend web developer to a full stack web developer and the pay/benefits were a plus too. This job allowed me to do what I love wherever I want while having the opportunity to take care of my grandfather. I’m immensely grateful for that.
How did you overcome doubt during your career journey/transitions?
Prepare and put in work to the best of your ability, but go after what you want regardless if you think you’re not 100%. It’s apart of the process and a way to better yourself each time if things don’t go how you want them to. You will end up where you’re supposed to be.
For those who may be experiencing imposter syndrome, what advice would you give that has helped you?
Sometimes you have to go through your bad emotions to figure some things out. I would say what has been helpful the most is to reflect on how far you’ve come to get to this point in life. Be proud of what you’ve done. Break up your work or life goals into smaller realistic attainable pieces so your not overwhelmed with self doubt. Give yourself a break and self care, whatever that looks like to you. Be nicer to yourself. Be confident.
Are there any lessons you’ve learned along your journey that you can share with others in the community?
Strive to be the best version of yourself. The more you love yourself, the better things will get.
What are your plans for you, your family and/or your career over the next 5 years?
My plans are to continue growing my skillset and knowledge in coding. I want be be a senior developer by that time and mentor other developers. I want to continue living a beautiful life here in Mexico with my husband and furry babies and travel as much as I can.
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