When Carey LaMothe needed to find a way to take care of herself and her newborn, she took the road of code.
Carey LaMothe was certain the only thing she’d ever do was play the French horn. Growing up in Seattle, she joined the band in junior high and quickly fell in love with music. In college at the University of Washington, she studied the titans of the classical genre, from Mendelssohn to Mozart, and eventually earned a Bachelor’s degree in music performance. After that, she was off to Los Angeles, where quality gigs were more plentiful than in Seattle. For the next several years, she recorded in the studio and toured regularly; she even performed at the wedding of Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra. “I hung out with Carmen Electra’s brother and sister-in-law,” LaMothe says. “They’re from the deep south, which was interesting; there are always a few unusual family members at every wedding.”
But after all that, it was almost as if life had something else in mind.
After eight years in L.A., LaMothe became pregnant and moved back to Seattle with her husband to start a family. But a few months later, still early in her pregnancy, LaMothe’s husband abandoned her and moved back to L.A. Faced with a new life as a single mother, LaMothe moved into a friend’s basement, and started thinking about exploring new lines of work. “I knew I needed to find a different career,” LaMothe said, “because I couldn’t imagine running all over town the way I always had.”
She found a job driving a local city bus part-time. The health care was good and the hours were right—she was able to work in the early mornings and take care of her baby the rest of the day. In the evenings, she began to explore her future. LaMothe considered becoming an X-ray technician. She spent 100 hours volunteering in the radiology department at a local hospital and began to chip away at college credits. But when she formally applied to a program at a local college, she wasn’t accepted. A friend of LaMothe’s who was a software engineer suggested she try programming instead; he thought she had a logical way of thinking that would be a good fit for the profession.
LaMothe attempted a few online courses and liked it. She felt right away there were parallels with music. “Music notation and code are both abstract mediums or expressions that can be done individually or in a group,” she says. LaMothe started browsing degree programs and online courses looking for a way into coding. She came across something called the Ada Developers Academy, a Seattle-based coding boot camp for women. LaMothe applied and although she wasn’t accepted, she learned more about web development through the application process. Soon after, still thinking the boot-camp route might be a good fit, she read an article in the Seattle Times that featured Galvanize. Impressed with the school’s job-placement ratings and in-depth, six-month format, she decided to pursue her future there.
“In the past, I’ve always done things the least expensive way, but you come to a dead end when you do it that way,” LaMothe says. “The thing I did differently was I chose the best program and I spent the money.” LaMothe was accepted to one of Galvanize’s web development cohorts in 2016, which was exciting but also a challenge given her role as a single mother. “I didn’t have a lot of time to study,” she says. “I could work after my little boy went to sleep at night, but I didn’t have the weekends like everybody else did. Everything was harder than I could have imagined—but I got through it.”
LaMothe’s hard work payed off at the end of last year. After looking for a few months, she landed a job on an internal developer team at the Disney Technology Solutions and Services department in Seattle, where she’ll be working on reshaping the company’s intranet. In the past, all in-house communications had been housed on WordPress; LaMothe is contributing to a team that will transfer everything to a new platform that’s more versatile and efficient.
I spoke with LaMothe in January, a few days before she started with Disney. I asked her how everything was going. “Really good—now,” she says. LaMothe told me Galvanize had been a good experience and she was happy that it had finally resulted in work. “Everyone in my cohort is someone that I expect to know forever,” she says. “It’s a permanent network and it’s well-established; I expect those will be lifetime relationships.”
She went on, “Galvanize was an opportunity. It was like giving myself permission to pursue other interests because I had always been so dedicated to music before. But it was time.”