Fourth Time’s a Charm: Santiago Martinez Vara Tested Three Career Paths Before Settling on Web Development

Santiago Martinez Vara’s career hasn’t been linear — but it’s afforded him the chance to discover what he’s truly passionate about. At first, Santiago thought he wanted to become an engineer, and he began his undergraduate studies with this goal in mind, acquiring some basic programming skills along the way. 

“I liked it,” he said. “I was good in my classes and really enjoyed the projects we worked on. But in the end, the methods of teaching and the applications we were building weren’t as fulfilling as I’d hoped.” 

After one semester, he changed course and dove into computer animation. Santiago ultimately completed his bachelor’s degree in the subject and, after graduating, began working as an animator in Mexico City. Still, he found it less than fulfilling within a few years’ time. “I noticed I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I could,” he said. “It wasn’t my calling, so I began looking at different options.” 

What came next? In pursuit of a more purposeful career, Santiago enrolled in a Master’s program for therapy. At the same time, he started receiving emails about Tecnológico de Monterrey Coding Boot Camp. Something clicked as Santiago thought back on the programming experience he had acquired — and greatly enjoyed — as an engineering and animation student learning C and C++.  

“Ever since my time in college, I’ve really enjoyed programming,” said Santiago. “I’ve always liked the analytical, abstract way of working — solving problems and finding the best solutions to things.” 

Pivoting to web development 

While starting his master’s in therapy, Santiago joined the boot camp, where he learned about a JavaScript library called React and dove into group projects. During the job search process, these group projects became useful additions to Santiago’s portfolio. In fact, he still uses the third project, a board game platform, as an example of his work. 

“The platform provided board game suggestions inspired by users’ past preferences,” he explained. “The front end was built with React, which I did. Then we wanted user identification and an algorithm to give individualized suggestions based on your preferences. We weren’t able to finish those components, but I still think it was a really good platform and learning experience.” 

After graduating from the boot camp, Santiago landed a job as a JavaScript developer at a medical library, where he’s currently building an online learning platform for medical classes. In this new role, he regularly uses React and JavaScript — two skills he picked up at the boot camp. 

“I didn’t know any of the boot camp languages beforehand. All the JavaScript I know came from the boot camp, as well as my CSS and HTML experience,” said Santiago. “Happily, we also learned some React and now I mostly work with React, which I love.”  

Celebrating a new career path 

Looking back, Santiago knows that he made the right decision to learn web development and embark on an exciting new career path.   

“I found a new calling,” he said. “It was weird to do a whole career change and leave behind my past experience, but I’m really glad I was able to find something that I’m better at and enjoy more. Plus, it pays better,” Santiago laughed. 

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