Meet our Graduates: Hayley, from Microbiologist to Junior Software Developer

Hayley left a career in a lab to travel Australia and somewhere along the road she discovered programming. After training at CodeClan Glasgow, she started work as a Junior Software Developer at Glasgow FinTech start-up Castlight.

Before CodeClan I was a bartender travelling around Australia. I have a degree in Zoology and had worked in a laboratory as a microbiologist, before realising I didn’t enjoy it.

While travelling I met a few developers and they got me to try coding on freeCodeCamp as I was interested to see how things were built. Some of them were able to work and travel at the same time, something I hadn’t considered as an option before.

As a teenager I’d explored HTML and CSS, so I thought I was probably good at coding but had never given it a chance.

Training at CodeClan

CodeClan’s links with industry really attracted me to the course. It was fun and challenging. The first couple of weeks were a massive headache, but once you get into the swing of things the headaches go away.

Our cohort had a lot of talented people in it, a really supportive group. We were constantly on Slack helping each other with homework.

Finding a job in tech

I didn’t start looking for work until the final week of the course because I wanted to focus on getting as much out the experience as I could. I think I’d only applied to two or three jobs but I had five interviews lined up for the week following the end of the course.

One that I’d applied to, another a friend had recommended me for and three from the Speed Networking event.

I felt extremely lucky to be in that situation as I’ve always struggled to get interviews for any job in the past. The team at CodeClan helped a lot with CV advice and the networking event was really successful for our cohort. I think most people got a job off the back of that.

I think I actually ended up cancelling two interviews to focus on the three I was most interested in, to do that many interviews in one go is actually really hard to prepare for and the times inevitably kept clashing.

Most of the companies wanted me to do a code test of some sort, one wanted a project completing and another wanted me to give a presentation. I was also having two or three people reaching out to me daily on LinkedIn so it was pretty full on.

I knew the course would give me skills that were in demand but I really wasn’t expecting to be so in demand!

Life as a Software Developer

I’m lucky with my new position as a Junior Software Developer at Castlight in that they also hired two others from my cohort so we’ve always had each other. It really helped with the transition having familiar faces around.

We were given our own project to work on at first so it just felt like another CodeClan group project except bigger and there were no instructors to run to for help!

We quickly became more involved in the wider code base, developing and improving the existing products. We were thrown in at the deep end a little because they hired us before the senior developers but we’ve got the team in place now and everyone is working really well together.

The transition has been scarily fast thinking about it but it feels like we’ve all been here much longer and the code feels familiar now.

The hardest thing was that, after finishing four months of really intense learning, we almost immediately started working and had that feeling again of knowing nothing and going thorough another really steep learning curve to get up to speed but I felt mentally exhausted following the course.

It took a few weeks to stop feeling so lost but I think that no matter how experienced you are, there will always be a period of learning starting a new job so it wasn’t actually that bad.

A typical day at Castlight?

Castlight is still quite a small start-up which means there’s still a lot of change going on. We’re starting to establish our work flow as a developer team but it still changes with each sprint. Typically, like at CodeClan, we start the day with a quick stand up. We work in sprints of one or two weeks where we focus on one big goal.

The work is split into small tickets that we can pick up. Apart from that the days can vary a lot, we get to work on both the front and back end. Sometime’s we work individually, we also pair up a lot and work in groups as well when needed. The teamwork is great.

Advice for other career changers

I would recommend trying some free online learning tools like freeCodeCamp or Codecademy first to make sure it’s something you really enjoy doing. CodeClan’s 16-week course is a big commitment and it is hard so you need to be sure it’s the right choice for you.

I think if you decide to do it, learning the command line as well will really help. It only gets covered a little at CodeClan but is really important to know better once you start working. Also most graduates are happy to answer questions if you reach out to us. There is a Twitter list of CodeClan grads.

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Kick off your own career change

Find out more about our 16-week Professional Software Development course or come along to our next info session in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

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