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  • Writer's pictureNicole Renna

Learn to Code

Last summer, I started following the brilliant Carla Stickler on Instagram. I first heard about her when she single-handedly saved Broadway aka filled in for the role of Elphaba in Wicked during the Omicron-spike of December 2021. You can read about her story here.

What struck me as the craziest part was that Carla isn't a full time actor in New York City anymore. She had pivoted to a new career as a software engineer and now lives in Chicago.

How does a Broadway actor become a software engineer? I was beyond intrigued.

After watching some of her reels and reading interviews she had done, I decided to try my hand at coding and for a moment thought maybe I too would become a software engineer.

Here’s what happened instead:

  1. I used my brain in a totally different way. This was just flat out refreshing. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut when we’re doing the same thing day in and day out, even when we love it. I was definitely in a rut, and this helped me get out of it by allowing me to practice problem-solving in a low stakes way.

  2. I sucked at it and then got better at it. This helped me tap into beginner’s mind and build some empathy bridges to my students who are at various stages of their own vocal journeys. Since then I’ve sought out more opportunities to be a beginner, and have even started approaching auditioning with a beginner’s mindset.

  3. I remembered that I contain multiple intelligences. I chose to pursue music and performance because I believed that it was the way that my brain works best. That may be so, but I have been neglecting the analytical/logical/math side for too long! Up until college, I did really well in math and science, and this was a reminder that I can do it all.

  4. I learned that there is no one right way to do anything. Gosh, that sounds like something that would have been useful in my music training. Instead, I learned it from a stranger in a forum on JavaScript. It’s taken away a lot of the pressure I was feeling when making self tapes. I can’t possibly perform anything the “right way” because that doesn’t exist. There’s more than one way.

  5. I stepped into the power of my possibility. This is the most important thing of all. I earned my first certification in HTML/CSS and felt this tremendous sense of accomplishment, something that I had not felt since the pandemic, if I’m being totally honest. It kicked my ass into gear, and I followed it up with an incredibly successful audition season. I needed the reminder that I am capable of anything, NOT just performing.

You don’t have to learn to code. This post is actually not about coding at all. It’s about trying new things and opening up to new experiences, not just the ones that you can add to the special skills section of your resume.

That said, if you're interested in becoming an artist who codes, check out the amazing courses on freeCodeCamp. If I can learn something new, so can you.


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