It’s never easy to change careers, even if you want to. There are always obstacles that hold us back, and sometimes we just tell ourselves that we are not sure we are capable of it. This is particularly the case with the job of a developer.
This month, we would like to share with you profiles of men and women who have made a complete U-turn in their professional lives to become developers. Whether it be a desire to create and be actors of innovation, an uncovered passion for code, or a motivation to learn and discover a new sector, the reasons for their career shift are as numerous as they are captivating.
Although their profiles are very different, what they all have in common is that they all had the courage to successfully complete their professional retraining, whatever their initial academic background or former career. Their testimonials are a positive and hopeful message to all those who have cherished the dream of, one day, becoming developers without really daring to take the plunge.
We hope that in the light of their experience, you too will find answers to your own career aspirations.
This week we’ll begin with the interview of Lindsey Wells, a former television camera operator for the BBC who decided to retrain to become a developer… while still being a full-time mom!
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This article is the first one of a series of interviews which highlight people from our community who successfully retrained to become developers. Check out the other articles:
- From the BBC to becoming a developer: Interview with Lindsey
- From nursing to front-end development: Interview with Dom
- From pharmacology to Technical Project Manager: Interview with Kiran
Hi Lindsey, can you introduce yourself and tell us what led you to change careers and retrain as a developer, and what were you doing before?
Hi, I’m Lindsey, I’m a 36-year-old mummy and brand-new developer. This time last year, I was working full-time as a television camera operator for the BBC. It’s a career I enjoyed for many years having filmed many interesting programmes and people along the way, (I did this career for 15 years), but I had seen for a long while coming that the writing was on the wall for me, as the industry was starting to close off as more and more television jobs are being given over to automation and robots.
Whilst away on maternity leave, I discovered a real love of learning, particularly studying foreign languages, and on returning to work and stumbling quite by chance across an internal scheme designed to attract more women into software development, I came to realize that I could put this love of learning to an amazing use and attempt a complete career change into software development. I tried a few free online resources (Freecodecamp and Codility) and immediately fell in love, before applying to FlatIron School bootcamp.
What do you do now?
I started a few weeks ago with Sky as an Associate Software Developer, on their Graduate Trainee program, which means I’m one of the oldest on the scheme, but with my previous degree in Broadcasting, I’m still technically a graduate, even though not a recent one!
They have been very welcoming to career changers and people that have different routes into tech, so there are several others who are also relatively new to coding. I’m starting off completing their own training bootcamp for 5 weeks before being placed onto an educational project and eventually joining my real department.
How long did it take you to retrain?
So, from day one of coding to day one on the job took about a year and a half, however I started my online bootcamp whilst still working full-time, so I was progressing relatively slowly at first.
I was up at the crack of dawn every day studying, for an hour each way on my commute, during my lunch breaks and once my daughter was in bed, and looking back on it now it really was like a form of an addiction.
I was getting to the point where I felt resentful that my actual job was taking my time away from what I really wanted to be doing, learning to code, so I decided to volunteer for redundancy from the BBC and use the money to give myself a year to study full-time, complete my retraining and try and find a job.
Did you teach yourself to code or did you attend a training course/school? How did you find this experience?
It was kind of both really, in that I did an online self-paced bootcamp, but as it was based in USA and I’m in the UK it was tricky to attend any of the live sessions and fit them around my availability, so I mostly watched recordings and followed the tutorials on my own, which made for very slow progress and wasn’t how I learned best.
I honestly felt very alone while retraining and really struggled to work my way through the material. In hindsight, I would have loved to have attended a full-time in person bootcamp with a cohort, but could never have fit that around childcare.
What were the main challenges you faced changing careers?
The main challenge was my own lack of confidence and imposter syndrome, which to be fair, I still struggle with. I used to worry that being a women may have given me an advantage over other more experienced candidates in order to equal out the numbers, but I come to realize that I passed the coding tests, assessment days and interviews the same as all the others who got hired!
What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking of changing careers and becoming a developer?
It’s totally do-able and you don’t need to have a maths or computer science background!
It’s perfectly okay to search the internet for answers, no-one expects you to memorize everything! Also type things out, don’t copy paste, something about the action of typing really helps to get things into my head, for me at least!
Would you say that retrained developers have more difficulties finding a job today than those who have an academic background in Computer Science?
From my personal experience, no, in that I literally got the first and only job that I applied to, and that was mid-way through my bootcamp however I’m aware that this was both incredibly lucky and incredibly rare.
I think it’s good to know that you don’t have to tick every single box on the job advert before you apply, and not to discount graduate schemes, whatever your age/degree subject.
How did you hear about CodinGame?
I was looking for alternative ways of supplementing my bootcamp learning, when I read a blog post and somebody mentioned that they liked it. It really appeals to my way of learning, learning by doing, I can’t take anything in from watching a video of someone else coding!
Did the platform help you improve your programming skills?
Absolutely, plus it gave me something to talk about in my interview when asked about the different methods I use to learn, I think knowing how you personally learn best gives you an advantage when it comes to being asked to use new concepts/languages, and helps you to pick them up quicker.
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Thanks a lot Lindsey for this very meaningful testimonial!
If you too would like to share your retrained developer experience with us, please feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in retraining to become a developer? Check out our complete guide!
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Are you a company bold enough to hire retrained developers? You’re welcome! Check out our tech hiring platform CodinGame for Work to source, screen, and hire talented developers from our community, who have diverse and amazing backgrounds.