With technology emerging as the fastest growing sector in the city’s economy, the impetus for job-seekers to learn and acquire the necessary skills to enter the field only intensifies. However, many adults without a background in computer science simply assume that they have already missed the boat, left to watch the tech ship pass them by.

That’s why General Assembly, the latest dev-focused educator in the city, is holding an event this Thursday (1/22) to outline an accessible path to a career in programming. Contrary to popular belief, the barrier-to-entry for coding, front-end development, and design is smaller than ever, with organizations like GA, Startup Institute, and DESIGNATION Labs helping guide people through the process.

At Thursday’s event, GA has assembled a panel complete with members of the Chicago tech community to detail how they became developers, what beginners need to do to get started as a developer, and the easiest way to break into the industry. Heading into tomorrow’s meetup, we asked a couple panelists why they chose this profession in the first place.

Moe Alkhafaji: Chief Technology Officer at CancerIQ

The Internet has contributed monumental benefits to our civilization. Web development is the driving engine of this innovation. Given my ambition to do great things, my love for problem solving, and my strive to contribute greatly to any domain, my continuous personal and career-driven interest in web development technologies became more of a natural marriage.

Cameron Jacoby: Software Engineer at Rocksbox & Graduate of General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive Program

I chose web development as a career because I’ve always loved to build and create things. The first time I gave coding a try, I couldn’t pull myself away, and that’s when I knew it was what I should be doing. I love my job because I’m either making something out of nothing when building new features or coming up with creative solutions to make existing features better.

Sarah Holden: Freelance Front-End Web Developer

When I first considered learning how to code it was a major paradigm shift for me. I had pigeonholed computer programmers as burly guys who like to sit in dark rooms and play video games. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that – it just wasn’t me!

I had a few friends who coded and always had endless job offers so I figured I would teach myself enough code to build a few sites for friends and make some extra money. But pretty soon I fell in love with development. For me it was the perfect combination of logic, creativity and design. I love being able to bring my ideas to life using code. To create something “out of nothing.” It’s a very satisfying career that not only brings new challenges each day, but is also fun! And that’s why I get excited about programming.

I think there are a lot of people out there who would be surprised to find out that not only is it something that they can do, but it’s something that they might really love doing.

Thursday’s event is from 6PM-8PM at 1871 in the Merch March. RSVP here.

(We updated this post to change ‘dev bootcamp’ to ‘dev-focused educator’ because there is a ‘Dev Bootcamp‘).