- What were you doing before joining Makers Academy?
I was working in project management in a small team at a social enterprise. It was interesting at first, but as time went on I didn't feel like I was developing any tangible skills.
- What made you want to start learning to code in the first place?
I've always enjoyed working with computers, but before Makers Academy my limit was really doing fancy graphs in Excel! In 2012 I started doing bits and pieces of Codecademy courses, but without any clear plan or end goal, life (and other hobbies) quickly overtook it. There just didn't seem to be any clear connection between following tutorials, and actually getting a job as a developer.
- How did you come across Makers Academy and what made you decide to apply to the programming course?
I read an article about Makers Academy when it first launched (around the time I was graduating from my history degree) and remember filing it away in my head as an awesome idea, but not in my life plan! At the time I needed a job pronto. However, it always stayed in the back of my mind. When in 2014 I started to realise project management wasn't challenging me enough, I kept coming back to the Makers Academy website, but it took me months to work up the courage to apply.
- What did you find difficult during the course?
The pace of the learning is challenging for everyone - if it's wasn't, then Makers wouldn't have been pushing us hard enough. What I found most difficult was suppressing my natural competitiveness. Everyone picks up different things at different paces, and when I felt like I was slower than others around me, it was hard not to beat myself up about it. I learnt to remind myself that the aim was to learn, not to race through the material as fast as possible. Equally if I felt I did understand things that others hadn't yet got, the best thing to do was to help them. It reinforced my understanding, and I knew I could ask them when I needed it. As a cohort, we were stronger together!
- What happened during/after graduation and where are you job-wise?
I graduated just before Christmas, so the job market was unusually slow. But I worked at Makers as an alumni helper, which was brilliant, as it forced me to keep reinforcing what I'd learnt on the course. I had a handful of interviews in January, and was offered a job as a Software Developer, after a whirlwind interview process at an exciting personal data start-up.
- Where are you now working?
I'm working as the lead (and only!) iOS developer at MyGravity. I was originally hired as a Ruby developer, but after a month was asked to take over development of our iPhone and iPad apps. It was daunting at first to be using a language which is so unlike anything we covered at Makers Academy, but I loved the challenge.
- How has your life changed since graduation?
Completely! I'm in a job that keeping me thinking and learning every single day - which is priceless. I'm also working on my own start-up on the side which I would never have even considered before doing Makers Academy. The future is totally unmapped, but feeling very bright right now.
- What advice would you give to people thinking of changing career?
Be as sure as you can before taking the step. If it's coding, try out course like Codecademy. Even if you don't complete it (like me), pay attention to how you feel when you're coding and learning. Is it tiring, or invigorating? Could you picture yourself doing it all day? But also, don't be too afraid of taking that next step - whether that's applying to Makers Academy, or signing up for an online course. If you never give it a shot, how will you ever know?
- What would you say to people who say £8,000 is very expensive?
It is expensive, and you have to be sure you can survive without a salary for four-plus months. Run the numbers, try out living on that budget for a while, because you don't want to be panicking about paying your rent in the middle of the course. However, personally, it was the best decision I've made. It's changed my life and given me a job and prospects that I could have only of dreamt of before. I'd do it again in a shot.
- What was your biggest worry before joining Makers Academy and how do you feel about it now?
I was most worried about how I'd cope with the pace and the pressure - 3 months is a long time to spend cramming your brain with a whole new world of knowledge. Now, I'm proud that I got through it. For me it was really important to look after myself. It might sound small, but making sure I got 7 hours of sleep a night, some exercise everyday cycling into Makers Academy, and a fully stocked freezer of home cooked meals made a massive difference.
- Sum up your Makers Academy experience
Life changing. And like any big change, not easy.
- What advice would you give to people interviewing for developer roles?
Treat every interview like a learning experience. For every interview that didn't get me a job, it taught me something that I used in my final one. And if it's a tech test - make you have a ready supply of tea on hand!