This is how I went from zero knowledge or interest in tech to stumbling across coding and development at University, falling in love with it, and how I secured a developer role after graduating with a degree in Digital Media.
I’d applied to university to become some weird hybrid animator/video editor/photoshop wizard. I ended up studying Digital Media at the University of Leeds which covered all those topics and more. I thought maybe I’d decide what I wanted to do after experiencing lots of topics, I was right but not in a way I expected!
My first exposure to web development was a module on Interface Design, and after that first workshop teaching HTML and CSS, needless to say, I was hooked. I spent my evenings powering through courses on Code Academy because I was so fascinated!
I wasn’t studying Computer Science, or a science-based subject and all the internships I looked at had these as requirements. I knew I had to seek out other options to learn and gain experience!
Now if you don’t know what Code First: Girls do, check them out because they’re awesome and they were the foot on the ladder to get me where I am today!
I applied for a Code First: Girls course on Web Development in 2018 and, much to my surprise I was accepted on the course. We were taught by Developers from all kinds of backgrounds but what stuck with me the most was that the majority of them didn’t have a Computer Science degree, it was music to my ears, if they could do it then I could too!
Over 8 weeks we were taught all about front-end fundamentals and I got my first exposure to Git and Github. At the end of it was a bit of competition, we all presented sites we’d built using the knowledge from the course and my project was chosen at the winner! I knew I needed to use the momentum from this course and the win to get out there and get myself a placement or internship.
After many, and I mean many, rejections for internship positions and nearly giving up, I was offered a position as a Digital Learning Assistant at the University's Online Courses Department. I was beyond thrilled because I would be doing front-end development on custom learning interactives.
They didn't have another developer there for me to learn from so it was very much me saying yes to anything they threw at me and Googling my way to a solution! I taught myself lots while there, from using static site generators, to using SCSS for the first time, to writing my own build scripts for Node projects, to using the command line. While it wasn't the most exciting of jobs, I am very thankful for the opportunity it gave me to learn on the job!
Towards the end of this internship, I accepted a 4-week internship at Sky as part of their Software Engineering Academy. I was only there a short time but I had my first exposure to unit testing, Docker, Agile development and working in a development team.
I knew I wanted a technical role when I graduated so what better way to prove myself for this than a technical final project mashing together React, Machine Learning and Progressive Web Apps, you can read all about it here.
I also took up a job working as a teaching assistant for First Years on the same Interface Design module that first sparked my interest in coding!
I had my Code First: Girls certificate, experience from internships, teaching experience, a couple of personal projects under my belt and one hell of a cool final project to talk about. I was prepped and ready to apply for Development Graduate Schemes and jobs. I applied, passed the online tests, booked in for assessment centres and technical interviews.
Then an opportunity popped up, I was offered a place on Work in the Web 2020, a three-day workshop that Mixd runs for students who want to work in the web industry. Everyone was super friendly and I was really impressed by the team, so naturally, I jumped at the chance of an interview for a graduate position when it was mentioned!
I was offered multiple development positions and it came down to me choosing between NHS Digital and Mixd. In the end, I chose Mixd because I really liked the small team vibe they had going on and already meeting the team took out some of the worries I had about starting a new job!
That's the current point in my journey, I'm a few months into my role as a Graduate Developer at Mixd and I'm really enjoying it!
If there was one piece of advice I'd give to anyone who was like me, wanting to get into tech but worried about not having a Computer Science degree and take every opportunity you find, apply for everything even if you think you won't get it.
I never thought I'd get into Code First: Girls but I still applied and got a place.
I never thought I'd get accepted on a development internship but I applied anyway and got accepted on to two.
I didn't think I was good enough to help teach others code but I applied and I got it because I was good enough.
I didn't think I'd get a place on Work in the Web but I did, and from that, I got to apply for a job with Mixd.
But most of all, I never thought that as a non-technical graduate I'd be offered any development job nevermind that I'd be turning down job offers!
Don't give up, try not to second guess yourself, you never know what one opportunity can do for you.