How Alina went from Graphic Designer to Software Engineer

Alina Linden
Since graduating from our Professional Software Development course last October, Alina has started a new role as a software engineer at Sharktower. We caught up with her to chat about how she got into coding, her new role and what it’s been like working remotely.

How did you get into coding?

My path into coding was a bit of a coincidence and to be totally honest, I was very reluctant at the beginning. I did computing at school and to say I was bad at it is an understatement. After moving to the UK, I wanted to apply for graphic designer roles as this was my previous career. All of the jobs required a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, so I started with free online resources. The more I learned, the more I enjoyed programming and I decided that it was what I wanted to do going forward.

At CodeClan you learned about having a growth mindset, have you found this has helped you in your role? 

Knowing about the growth mindset has helped me a lot in my new role. There are days when I struggle with finding the solution to a problem and I need to ask for help. Instead of feeling discouraged, I like to remember the growth mindset and tell myself “I don’t know this YET”.

What other aspects of the course have you brought into your role?

The excitement to learn something new every day. And sometimes I remember what one of my instructors, Sandy, used to say to us during the course (and I am paraphrasing here): 

“It is okay to not understand 100% how it is working, for now it is okay to understand how to make it work.”
This really encourages me whenever I need to do more reading even after I solved the problem.

How’s your new job at Sharktower going and where might we find your code? 

I still cannot believe how friendly and welcoming everyone at Sharktower has been. Our developers are a mixture of people with a degree in computer science and people like me who have done CodeClan. And even though I have only met two people in person so far, I feel part of the team and valued.

I love being able to build and maintain a product that people actually use. The changes I make have an (hopefully positive) impact on someone and their experience with the software. And to know that businesses are making critical decisions and relying on the application that I help creating is a fantastic feeling.

I recently finished working on a new budget feature for the application. It allows the user to keep track of the expected income, expenses, and profit of their project(s). Three months into my new development career this has been quite a challenge. But I am proud of the results, and the feedback from customers has been great. This sprint I am beginning to create another new feature. But I can’t talk about that just yet…

What part of your job gives you the biggest thrill?

I love tackling difficult problems and finding a solution. Especially when this involves a lot of reading, learning something new and trying out different methods. When my solution gets pushed to live, I feel very proud.

My time is predominantly spent working on improvements such as new features or fixing bugs that our users have reported. But I also get to spend a few hours each week for my own personal development and to learn things that I am interested in.

Have you been surprised by anything in your new role?

What surprised me the most is how much fun my new role is. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed being a graphic designer, but programming feels like so much more. Solving problems with like-minded people and being trusted to work autonomously, is really exciting.

Did learning remotely help lay down the foundation for working from home?

Definitely! It has become second nature to be on zoom most of the day or do pair programming via live share. What is still challenging to me is taking regular breaks. It is easy to forget or to put pressure on yourself that you need to be at the desk all the time. But I am getting better at it …-ish.

It can be tempting to just roll out of bed and go straight to your desk. What helps me is a strict morning routine. It puts me in the right mindset that I am going to work now even though I am still at home.

What advice would you give to someone looking to change career right now?

If you enjoy programming, reach out to people in the field, attend talks and get involved in the community. Whenever I reached out early in my learning, I never encountered any negative response. Everyone was genuinely happy to help and answer any questions I had.

If you’ve been inspired by Alina then join us at an upcoming info session to meet our instructors and student services team, find out about our curriculum and ask any questions that you may have. 


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