Robert, a graduate of our Professional Software Development course, writes about his experience changing career from the oil & gas industry into the world of start-ups and tech.
Leaving the Oil & Gas Industry
Heading into the second half of 2017, I made a conscious decision that, before the year was out, I would leave a role within the oil & gas industry that had provided me with a great salary, half the year at home and allowed me to purchase my first property.
The decision wasn’t a spur of the moment one but a well thought out process based on a number of factors. A big decrease in job satisfaction, missing important family birthdays together with a growing trend for offshore workers to be seen completing increased workloads all the while being paid less, as a result of the oil price crash of 2015.
After a number of possible future career brainstorming ideas, and always ending up back at the idea that I would love to get more involved with web design (following on from my brief web & graphic design course at Dundee College back in 2003), I stumbled upon CodeClan. A digital skills academy offering a Professional Software Development course that had great reviews, lots of success stories and which hundreds of Scottish tech companies were enrolled in as employer partners, snapping up the latest graduates from the course.
Upon a successful application and interview process, I gained my spot within cohort E18, running from November 2017 — March 2018. It would see me relocating to Edinburgh Mon-Fri in order to put the time I would otherwise be spending on commuting, into the homework we would be set each night. This was a key factor in how enjoyable I found the course and how Edinburgh came to be a second home for me. I also set a personal goal to vlog/blog every step of the process in a fun & insightful youtube video series.
Fasting forward to March 2018, my blog and youtube channel The Road To Code now boasts 17 first-hand weekly videos together with 3 module presentation videos and even a tutorial on web scraping. Together with the number of hours invested into putting the videos together, writing 1000s of lines of code, enduring 100s of hours in the classroom, I finally get my hands on the all-important CodeClan graduation certificate!
In the year following on from my CodeClan departure, the level at which I have maintained a thirst for knowledge and learning, has surpassed every expectation I had. It is testament to just how well set up the course is that they can take a 33 year old individual like myself and instil a new found approach that would see me learning how to learn again.
The first employer to recognise my new skills was a small software house nestled in a quiet village in rural fife. Solutions Developed provided me with a temporary role in which I would learn aspects of other languages such as .net and using the SPFX framework combined with react.js for large private sector intranet systems.
Finding the right job
Soon thereafter, I landed my dream job in my hometown of Dundee none the less. Joining a small team at tech start-up Just Venue, I quickly developed the role of Head of Front-End Development & Marketing. It was always a worry for me that I would not find a role that allowed me to tie my newly found skills into a position which incorporated my years of experience in marketing & content creation. The seamless transitions and intertwined nature of these 2 sectors mean that having an extensive knowledge of what SEO works better for the front-end design, what growth hacking strategies work for us, what our target audience look like, what social platforms do they regularly use and when to use automation or manual processed tasks to best affect, is paramount to the success of any platform.
Joining a small team in a new start up where you are constantly wearing many different hats and adapting as you go is half the fun and half the challenge that comes with development and business as a whole. Since joining the “AirBNB of Event Spaces”, Just Venue has went on to win a £50,000 award from Scottish Edge, £1000 award as part of The Hunter Foundation’s 100 Disruptors, our founder Jamie Shankland has been nominated for Young Entrepreneur of the Year and we even had government approval for the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). Although I cannot take away from the efforts of everyone within our small team, I would like to think that I have played an influential role in getting us to where we are now and I have CodeClan to thank for that.
The future of Just Venue is bright! We are quickly becoming the UK’s number one online venue booking platform for finding, comparing and booking event spaces all around the country. We‘ve on-boarded large chained “hosts” such as Hilton, The National Trust for Scotland, The Office Group & Accor Group all of whom offer our users, the “guests” the freedom and flexibility to choose from 1000s of event spaces. We also have hundreds of event spaces in unique venues that “guests” may never have thought possible to hire for an occasion. Some of these include a barber shop, pole dancing studio, a 1950’s style cafe and even a few breweries. We are changing the way in which people book event spaces and it is so exciting to be a part of that!”