Looking for a new work challenge, Kat swapped a career in journalism and PR for web development after 16 weeks at CodeClan.
After my original degree in psychology I trained as a journalist, working in Scotland and then New Zealand for a while. I then moved into public relations and broader communications work, and I’ve been doing that for the last 10 years, largely in the civil service, public sector and charity.
As I progressed in my career, although I enjoyed it, I didn’t feel like I was playing to my strengths and I’d come to a point where my next career step wasn’t clear to me.
I had friends working in tech who’d said ‘Have you ever thought of this?’. I didn’t have a computer science background – when I was at school we’d had the odd computer lesson but it wasn’t offered at GCSE or A-level. But they convinced me that it’s something you can pick up as long as you enjoy problem-solving and have an analytical way of thinking.
I looked into it and tried some online courses, but because I’m a mum with young children I couldn’t take three years to go and do a degree, so I wasn’t sure how to make it work for me.
That’s when a friend told me that CodeClan was opening. She thought it could be the solution as 16-weeks, while still a bit commitment for the family as a whole, was manageable if I wanted it enough.
Studying at CodeClan
For the first week I ended each day with a terrible headache. I think it was from the shock of being back in the classroom after so long and having all this new information thrown at me. But by week two I was getting used to it.
I was the only one in our cohort with young children and I was worried how it would work out, given the intensity of the course and the homework and projects. I had to head off to get the kids from nursery and then couldn’t start my homework until they were tucked up in bed, but I enjoyed the work so much it never felt like a chore.
My husband noticed I was immediately more energised, because I was doing something that really engaged me from day one.
As opposed to the online learning I’d done, I found I learnt far quicker when I was surrounded by other people. Someone will ask a question that you hadn’t even thought of. If they hadn’t, and the answer hadn’t been given, you might have got stuck on something later.
It speeds the whole thing up when you’re in a group and the cohort also became really close and we encouraged each other whenever we were finding things hard.
I’m now working as a Junior Website Engineer at FreeAgent.
We use Ruby at FreeAgent, so it was a real benefit to me that we’d spent a good chunk of the course at CodeClan on Ruby. And because working on the website involves working closely with our communications team, my previous experience was really valuable in helping me secure the role.
When I was given the codebase it was obviously much larger than anything we’d built at CodeClan, but I just took my time to go through it, asked questions and started out fixing some small bugs, which is a great way to get a good handle on what’s going on in the code.
We use a lot of the tools that we used at CodeClan, like Slack and Trello, so that’s really helpful. But the instructors also ensure that you realise you’re never going to know everything, you’re going to need a constant willingness to learn and they instil that in you by not spoon-feeding you everything but instead letting you go off and try things for yourself.
That’s been invaluable given I’m learning and trying new things all the time in my job.
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