It was really the choice between keeping coding as a hobby and making it a career

Charlotte is an Associate Engineer at BCG Digital Ventures. In this blog she shares her story into Software Engineering and tips for others considering a career change.
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When did you write your first line of code?

I had always had an interest in learning to code but life had always gotten in the way. When I applied to General Assembly they ask you to do some online exercises which when I went to do them I found I had already done! I must have been messing around with coding tutorial sites at University and forgotten!

I think coding really clicked in for me when I saw it’s benefit for my business, in the sense that if I could code, the business would be less reliant on outside web support. I started properly writing code when I was running a start-up and trying to cut costs. That was really my initial drive to learn, but the more I learnt, the more I loved it!

Why did you decide to move into technology?

I honestly couldn’t believe my luck when I found something I really enjoyed doing and then someone who was prepared to pay me to do it! I still have to pinch myself at work that my job is something that I would otherwise be doing at home for free! It was my Mum who saw that whilst I’d initially started learning to code for the business, it was now something that I was doing in all my free time! She said, why don’t you make this your career and I thought, oh yeah, why don’t I?!

Would you recommend doing an intensive training course?

Absolutely! I think it got to the point where I reached a ceiling of how much I could learn by myself, and in particular in the speed that I had been learning. It was really the choice between keeping coding as a hobby and making it a career. If I wanted it to be my job I needed to level up and commit to it.

What is your favourite language / framework, and why?

Currently I am focusing on JavaScript. It does most of what I want to be able to do at the moment. I’m always creating little games in Vanilla JavaScript so I can practice coding, but really I just love building games! You can also write back-end code in JavaScript and I’ve even been using it (specifically Node) to write apps for Amazon Alexa.

What do you like the most about your job?

Mostly the variety of what we do here at DV and the continuous opportunity to learn.

What would be important for you if you were looking for a job?

For me it’s cultural fit. It makes such a huge difference if you like your colleagues and you enjoy working with them. Obviously other things come into the mix too — such as the type of work.

Is there any new technology you want to learn this year?

I’ve recently been practicing a lot with Voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. They are a great solution for any moment when you can’t be using your hands.

I have created a few apps for when you are running around the house getting ready in the morning. You can’t always stop to use your hands and often you’re still half asleep so you might need a little extra help !

I’ve been creating an app that suggests what you should wear based on the weather, your schedule that day and what you wore earlier in the week. It’s still in development but I’m hoping it will make my mornings much easier! My passion for tech is really to make life easier for my users.

Do you attend any meet ups/events?

Yes, particularly when I first started out. It’s great to meet new people with whom you share an interest. You can learn so much from informal chats and presentations on niche topics you have never come across before. In particular I usually go to the Codebar and Women Who Code meet ups as they always have great speakers.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of changing careers?

Do it! Never fear trying new things! Try and find out as much about what you are switching to as you can. Talk to people, go to meetups, read blogs but also listen to your gut and do what feels right for you.

Read more about Charlotte’s tech life at https://medium.com/@charlotte.davies

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