Claire worked in digital marketing and communications for ten years before she decided to pursue a career in programming. She had a strong interest in coding from a young age, but was never encouraged to make it more than just a hobby. CodeClan’s Professional Software Development course opened up an unexpected but exciting pathway for her. Now, for over six months Claire has been in her new career at Care Sourcer. We talked to her about life as a software engineer, learning new skills, and how she hasn’t looked back.
When did you first start coding?
I’ve been interested in coding and technology since I was a young teenager. Digital marketing helped to scratch that itch because it’s creative and technology-focused, but despite that I’ve always been keen to develop my coding skills.
I used to code websites when I was at school and started to learn Java, but I didn’t know how to make this interest a career. I didn’t take computing, so the careers advisors at school didn’t support me to follow coding towards employment.
Over the years I’ve been to various programming workshops and tried to teach myself the basics of coding, but it wasn’t until CodeClan came along that I realised a career change could be a real option for me.
How did the course meet your expectations?
There are a lot of things I enjoyed about the CodeClan experience, but I was a big fan of the learning process in particular. It’s fast-paced but structured, so you learn a huge amount and see your programming skills grow and develop over a very short space of time. For me, this was really rewarding as the pace of learning far outstripped anything I could do solo.
While I know I am very green and have a huge amount still to learn as an engineer, I feel that the course has given me the skills to learn how to learn, as well as the confidence to try things and explore code.
Did the course ever feel too fast-paced or intense?
The CodeClan pace of life is fast but I enjoyed all elements of the learning process. It’s always good to get a Thursday evening off to recharge your batteries, and the weekend homework is a great way to consolidate your learnings from the week. Plus, the ping pong table helped many a coding concept sink in.
My fellow students were supportive, friendly and helpful throughout the entire course. We were all in this process together, so we made sure to help each other so that nobody felt left behind.
What was your favourite language that you learned?
I’m a particular fan of Ruby, but have enjoyed all the languages and frameworks I was introduced to on the CodeClan curriculum. Folk say that Ruby is great for beginners (which it is), but they often neglect to mention just how powerful and flexible the language is. I am now learning the Rails framework in my day job, and building some fun apps in my spare time.
You’ve been working as a Software Engineer at Care Sourcer for a few months now. How has it been?
Care Sourcer is a really exciting place to work. Much like CodeClan, life here is fast-paced and the business is constantly experimenting and exploring opportunities. My first few weeks included a thorough induction so I could get an understanding of how the care sector operates, and I was delighted to be let loose on the codebase on my second day.
Six months in, I’ve deployed a wide range of application features that people use on a daily basis and am constantly learning. The stack is Ruby on Rails, which is completely new to me. It’s been a really interesting and fun learning process to feel my way around the framework, as well as ask questions to engineers and pop into books, documentation or videos. I am constantly being surprised by Rails’ conventions and shortcuts, and am a fan.
Although I love my new job, it’s worth mentioning that engineering can be really difficult. Starting as a junior on production code is an extremely steep learning curve and can feel overwhelming. Starting my first engineering job has brought home just how much there is to learn. But with a supportive team, enthusiasm to learn and a great product to contribute to, it’s a brilliant adventure and I have seen my skills and knowledge develop at an impressive pace. Long may it continue.
Do you think you’ll get tired of coding now that it’s your career?
What’s exciting about software development is that it’s a role where you will be learning for life. I enjoy having problems to solve, and with technology constantly evolving it means I will always have new things to learn.
Now that I have my first job as a junior engineer, I am excited about the learning possibilities ahead of me, so I can write better code for great products in creative, efficient and elegant ways. What’s not to love about that?