Single Mother Turns to Coding and Music to Help Family

March 30, 2017

8:30 pm

Carey LaMothe was certain the only thing she’d ever do in life was to 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 a 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 said. “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 because I couldn’t imagine running all over town the way I always had,” she said.

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. 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 a career. LaMothe attempted a few online courses and liked it. She began to see a parallel between music and coding.

“Music notation and code are both abstract mediums or expressions that can be done individually or in a group,” she said.

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, she read an article in the Seattle Times that featured Galvanize and 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 said. “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. 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,” she said.

LaMothe’s hard work payed off for her and her family, and 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.

Before she started at Disney, I asked her how everything was going.

“Really good—now. 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 said. “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.”

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Before turning to magazines, Chris worked as a reporter at newspapers in New Hampshire and Colorado, winning multiple awards for his work, including being named "Rookie of the Year" by the New Hampshire Press Association in 2006.

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