Two years after CodeClan: Meet Alasdair, Products Developer at Inoapps

Approaching his second anniversary at Oracle Platinum Partner Inoapps, our graduate Alasdair reflects on life since CodeClan and what it’s like to be two years into a career as a Software Developer.

I’m Alasdair, I’m a CodeClan graduate and now a Products Developer at Inoapps. I was a Junior Developer but now I’ve moved along their structured program and I’m a fully fledged Products Developer in the Products team.

To start off with I was hired as a BI Junior Developer – Business Intelligence – and I did a lot of work learning about Oracle’s Business Intelligence solutions.

I worked on that for about a year, and I went and spoke to Dermot Murray, VP Products Division at Inoapps and said: “I want to look at some other stuff. Can I move into a different type of area?” and he said “We need people in the Products Division,” and from there it’s been organic. Once you’ve shown you’re willing to learn, ask questions, work hard, then definitely it’s an organic process.

Finding CodeClan

I was a primary school teacher before for about five or six years. I enjoyed parts of it and then it just came to crunch time and I’d had enough.

I saw the CodeClan course and just got the opportunity there. I went through the course, it really seemed to fit the way I was thinking, the way I like to work and structure things. We touched on JavaScript, Java, Ruby to start off with. We also did a bit of SQL so my knowledge of Oracle was limited to “Oh, you can select from tables?”, “It’s a database?”.

Getting a job at Inoapps

I’m not ashamed to admit that I just wanted to get into a job. I wasn’t going to be picky in that sense. I was a big believer in “Get industry experience. Don’t hang about.”

I reached the end of the CodeClan course and just had a chat with Dermot (of Inoapps).

Thinking back on it now, he didn’t mention the fact that I didn’t know Oracle. He wanted to know about me, know about my previous skills, was I willing to work? He didn’t ask me about Oracle so I never actually thought “I don’t know Oracle, what am I going to do?” I felt Dermot just wanted to know what I was about and what my soft skills were. He was willing to teach me the rest.

Alasdair working at his desk

What specifically drew me to Inoapps was the business-critical aspect. They keep the lights running for huge companies.

And when you get into Inoapps now you do realise the major extent of their applications, how they help normal users to do their job well.

The size of some of the applications that they work on and the extent of the users that they touch is staggering. Sometimes you think “I can’t believe I’m working on an application for this many people to do their job”.

But that’s where the enjoyment, the excitement and the satisfaction come from.

The logical and creative appeal of tech

I like the logical approach to things. That’s what drew me to tech. It is, to a certain extent, very logical, very organised, binary, and that’s the way I think.

Teaching is just too wide, it’s too illogical at times.

But then coming into tech, you start going: “well actually yeah, there is a creative aspect”. I’m doing a lot of database modelling at this point where you create a system; you do have that creative outlet. And applications, you have to think about how it’s going to look: what’s the user interface? How’s that going to react to users?

So my first draw to tech was that logical approach, but then when you get dropped into the job you see there’s a whole creative aspect to this that people might not necessarily be aware of. There are a lot of design conversations. So there are a lot of great creative opportunities in a technical job.

Previous career and soft skills

At Inoapps, they don’t lean on your technical skills alone.

Because of my teaching background Dermot asked me if I would deliver some training to one of our customers in America that had a requirement to learn about Oracle’s Business Intelligence tools. Luckily I’d used the tools at that point and felt confident enough to go and speak about them. My previous teaching experience meant Inoapps was able to drop me into a classroom of adults and knew I would deliver.

My advice for graduates is champion your technical skills but also bear in mind that you’ve got soft skills that you’ve built up from your previous career that graduates coming out of university will not have, and that will stand you in good stead.

On changing career

I left teaching because I had a bit of a meltdown. It came to breaking point and so I left. Luckily I got into CodeClan and, amazingly, two years later I own my own house, I have a child, I have a fantastic job. Thinking on it, I can’t believe that that’s happened and I got the opportunity to do that.

To be fair, I was lucky. My girlfriend was working and she could bear the brunt of the financial cost of those four months, but it’s only four months out of your whole life and it’s an amazing transition.

Advice for others

I would advise anyone thinking about joining CodeClan to first ask themselves: Am I happy? I was unhappy so I decided to leave my job and look for something different.

Secondly, do you want to code or go into something that will involve code?

Go online and try out some of the many free coding tools that are available to see if you enjoy it. If you do, then go for it because you’ll change your life. I have! It’s weird to think about it but two years ago I was just coming out of CodeClan, no job. Now, here I am with a job I enjoy and a career that most probably will last until I retire. It’s an amazing change.

Are you unhappy in your job? Yes? Ok fine. Do you like code? Does it make sense to you the way it works? Yes? Ok, go for it. It’s four months.

Watch Alasdair in our Inoapps video:

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